Monday, October 9, 2017

A Queer Creed

Here is Rev. Brenda Bos's queer rewriting of the Christian Apostles' Creed. She is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in San Clemente, California and a member of Proclaim, an organization for out LBTQ+ clergy and other church professionals in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Proclaim is a community within the queer-inclusive Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. It's reposted here from interMISSION, ELM's weekly e-newsletter.

I believe in God the Creator,
who designed all good things,
including people of all gender expressions and sexual orientations.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
God's perfect Child,
who came to earth to live among us.
Jesus was born into a non-conventional family who adored Him even when they did not understand Him.
He confounded authorities and comforted the oppressed.
Because He represented the marginalized, He was crucified, His body mocked by others, died and was buried.
He knew personal Hell.
On the third day God celebrated the wonder of the human body and raised Jesus from the dead.
Jesus ascended into the realm of beauty, continually moving among us, blessing and sustaining us.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
all music, wonder and strength.
I am a member of the Body of Christ.
I cherish the communion of the saints,
live because of the forgiveness of sin,
emulate the resurrection of the Body
and already experience life everlasting. Amen

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hanlan's Point, Sunday Afternoon

The wrack left by the flood,
and the far end of the beach gone,
no telling just where our towels lay
in other seasons. Now only
a few wading out
past the fallen trunks, then back again
into shore, and the shallow nooks
screened by half-submerged branches or open
to the lapping water’s gaze--
explorers beyond crowds glad
for another gifted day’s extension
of summer’s lease; seekers approaching
land’s end and wider freedom
in hope of something closer
to astonishment.
Which manifests
as a man standing chest-deep in ecstasy
and cradling the face
of the comerado who kneels
before him in the sand, enfleshment
of abandoned devotion.
the two of them, by sunlight
and open water, by witness
of silent passersby,
their holiness balanced precariously
on this spit of land.

Friday, September 22, 2017

On the Anniversary of Creation

From Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"On Rosh Hashanah...

"... we are called to judge ourselves with love; to love ourselves, and also to face the truth about our shortcomings and grave misdeeds. In our self-scrutiny we strive to emulate the true positive essence within ourselves. In our truth we cannot be fooled by evasions, or excuses. Tradition bids us to approach this day with both solemnity and joy, knowing that we will contemplate matters of life and death; and tradition reminds us, as well, that we celebrate the world's creation and our own moral rebirth."

--adapted from the Mishkan Hanefesh

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"The separate self..."

"... doesn't have a point of view. It is a point of view."
--Rupert Spira

(With thanks to Andrew.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Not So Complicated

Yesterday I was cranky, even by my base-line standard--which, I hate to admit, I usually reserve for those closest to me.

The night before last, the neighbours’ dude-bro guests woke me at 4:30 a.m. with a loud, drunken outdoor conversation and refused to quiet down when asked. A week sharing our small house with our own three guests had left me feeling cramped and unheard by my partner over a petty domestic disagreement. When we finally had the place to ourselves last night, we bickered over how to make the potato salad (for fuck’s sake), then over what to watch on TV later in the evening.

I woke up late this morning to make up for the dude-bros, dozed some more, finally rolled out of bed, and went to the front door to let the cat in from her morning excursion. Jonathan sat just inside at the dinner table, absorbed in e-mail.
“It’s a gorgeous morning,” I said as I walked out onto the front stoop. “And here’s a gorgeous man sitting at the table. Wearing gorgeous glasses. And a gorgeous matching blue sweatshirt.”
I’d thrown the words off lightly, playfully, without any especially deep feeling. Not expecting them necessarily to land.

But they did. Jonathan's face lit up, as it hadn't in days, with the pleasure of being seen and appreciated. That's all it took. Seeing him being seen, I felt seen in return. Yesterday's strains dropped away, and there we were in the moment, together, living on this earth.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Homage in High Summer

It began its life as a tree rooted in our Mother the earth. It has passed through fire. It's rooted in the earth once again. It rises into air. It's washed by the rains. By a thousand daily transformations, it gradually passes back into the earth once more. A sign of life's longing for itself; a reminder of our mortality.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Waiting on the Perseids

This last Saturday night, I was standing next to a bonfire with a band of brothers at StoneSong Retreat Centre in western Maryland, on the final evening of four sweet days of intentional community. My heart was full. The hearts of many of us were overflowing. After a spectacular afternoon thunderstorm that left most of us happily drenched, the sky had cleared, the stars were out. Our time around the fire was punctuated with one or another of us calling out, “There’s one!”
It was one of the peak nights of the Perseid meteor shower. The best viewing would have been just before dawn Saturday, but even if any of us had gotten up that early, there’d been cloud cover all through Friday night and most of the day leading up to the rain.
But you don’t get to order shooting stars on demand. You can’t control the conditions under which you wait for them. You can make yourself available. And that’s about it. Even when the conditions are right, you just have to let go and accept that wherever you focus your attention, you're probably watching the wrong bit of sky. You’re most likely to glimpse the streak of light only out of the corner of your eye. You may have companions to bear witness that they’ve seen it, too. Or you may have to trust, after that brief flash, that it really was there, if only for you.
What you can do is decide that the shooting star is worth waiting for, being idle for. You learn to separate hope and faith from expectation. The more often you’ve seen one, the stronger your inclination becomes to wait patiently for the next.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Once More, Into the Breach

Many of us who haven't bailed out of Christianity altogether are way beyond agonizing over the "clobber passages"--the six Biblical references to homosexuality that the religious right continues using to justify its hatred and discrimination. Still, it's gratifying to hear yet another  voice that refutes the fundamentalists on their own terms.
It's begging for disappointment to hope that yet another cogent argument can overcome bigotry, any more than it was dispelled  decades ago by John Boswell or John McNeill. But a British evangelical theologian, the Rev. Canon Steve Chalke, has this to say about misreadings of Paul on the subject of male sexuality in the Roman Empire:
 “Our poor understanding of the New Testament has brought misery, persecution, oppression and rejection to countless hundreds of thousands and millions of LGBT people. It’s time to apologize for the mistakes we’ve made and move on.”

You can watch his eloquent and energetic talk via Huffington Post.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

108 Breaths in the Morning

Black, yellow, white and red stones for the four directions of the earth.
The Shiva Lingam for the holiness of our erotic energy.
The Cross for the radical solidarity of the Divine with our flesh.
A tiny Buddha for the joyful impermanence of all that arises.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Conrad Alexandrowicz: The Wines of Tuscany

Two decades after the “cocktail” transformed HIV-AIDS into a manageable long-term condition--for those who respond to the drugs, and who can afford and have access to treatment--AIDS memoir has slipped from the central place it held in gay literature during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Many of those works--in turns searing, elegiac, angry, urgent, tender--were the crucibles in which a generation of queer men refined the hard-won truths of their spiritual lives.

Among the most moving works for theatre that came out of the crisis was Victoria-based playwright Conrad Alexandrowicz’s The Wines of Tuscany (1996).  

For me, the opening monologue, in which Ben narrates his unashamedly sexualized recurring dream of Christ’s Passion, is a courageous assertion of the non-dualtiy of flesh and spirit. In this, it stands beside the homoerotic devotional imagery of the photographs of John Dugdale and of Oscar Wolfman, beside Keith Haring’s AIDS altarpiece at the Episcopal cathedrals of New York and San Francisco, beside Terrence McNally’s reimagining of the life of a queer white-trash Texan Christ in his play Corpus Christi. 

By happy circumstance, I had a chance to unleash my inner groupie in admiration for his work when I found myself introduced to Alexandowicz in a Toronto museum last month. He kindly agreed to share here some words of introduction to the play, along with Ben’s opening and closing speeches.



This play is a one-act physical-theatre duet for male performers about memory, pleasure, and loss. It is also about wine, food, architecture, sex and opera. The play is set to a score composed of original material as well as excerpts from operas by Verdi and Mozart, and uses dialogue, movement and song to convey its narrative. 

The piece is essentially a man's reminiscence of the last trip to Italy taken by himself and his lover, who has since died of AIDS. Long-time opera- and wine-lovers, the two make one more tour through Tuscany in search of the ultimate red wine experience. As his lover's illnesses worsen, the search becomes more desperate, and wine comes to represent a magical substance that can provide an aesthetic experience so powerful that it is an elixir of life. The journey is therefore about the quest to prove that beauty, like love, is stronger than death. 

The Wines of Tuscany originated at Vancouver's New Play Festival and was subsequently produced twice more in that city. It then toured to Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Toronto, where it ran for six weeks at the Tarragon Theatre. It has won numerous awards.

A one-act dance-theatre duet for male performers

[Setting: A large painted backdrop portrays a composite of typical elements of Italian high Renaissance architecture. . . . There is a living room setting downstage right, a couch and carved chest with a wine bottle and glass. . . . The lights come up on the last crashing measures of La Traviata: Violetta dies of consumption as Alfredo, his father, the doctor and the maid all howl in anguish. The chords fade away as Ben is discovered on the couch down right. He sits up, pours a taste of Il Grigio da San Felice, Riserva 1990, sniffs the bouquet, tastes it, and then begins to address the audience]


BEN: I had the dream again. [Music: the Preludio from La Traviata]  Under a black sky, stinking of sulphur, promising the rains of doom, I see the crucified Christ twisting like an animal impaled alive on a spit. He's been stripped of the usual ragged loincloth; he has a huge, raging erection. [Edward stands and begins to move]   He's pumping the air with his pelvis. Suddenly he's coming... wildly, magnificently, endlessly. This shower of cum is bestowed over the assembled multitudes below, who receive it into their hands like fallen gold, ecstatically; a magic transforming fluid that has the power to heal and restore. I understand that this Christ was sent from the hand of God the Father to heal the world, and he's been punished for it. And God's in his heaven, weeping as gods sometimes do when they can do nothing to help. So his son does the only thing left in his power: he performs this magnificent last miracle, this stupendous, epic orgasm, generated from the superhuman pain of his all-too-human tormented body. From his seed will grow clear sight, calm thinking, the benefit of the doubt. The hand extended to the one who calls out, palm open, no questions asked.
The dream changes, exactly the same way, every time. He appears. [Ben crosses to Edward. They variously dance, slide, roll and run together throughout the rest of the speech]  His eyes like chocolate truffles, his shiny, springy hair; his shapely hands. It's him alright, it's actually him! I gasp, with amazement, with horror even. Then I begin to weep. And then I get hard, just like always: I'd only to look at him and I'd get hard. I'd think of him on the bus or subway, and get a lump in my jeans. Very embarrassing before getting off: the old ladies sitting with their shopping, their eyes at crotch level.
In this dream we're on a train travelling north to Siena. The idea is to get away from Rome as soon as possible. I love the sprawling mess of this city; these many cities from different ages piled together, but he finds it oppressive, and appalling, especially the traffic, which seems to be lethal to everything that walks the earth. You think they're actually trying to run you over, but when you wade out into the river of FIATS in front of the Victor Emmanuel monument, they all slow down just enough so you can cross; they part like the Red Sea did for Moses and the children of Israel. It's a miracle: what better place to experience a miracle than the Eternal City? He always said they only avoid killing pedestrians because of the inconvenience and expense of lawsuits. [Edward brings the chairs to centre stage. Train scene] 

We're on this train, going to Chianti, for the wines of course, and I'm gazing out of the window at the parade of hill towns passing by, rosy stone in the morning sun, each with its immaculate bell-tower gravely lifting its head toward the heaven of Giotto and Palestrina. He always let me have the window seat. I turn to my right, and there he is. I turn to my right, and there he is. I turn to my right... [Edward falls in slow motion to the floor]  Ah, tu fosti il primo oggetto che sinor fedel amai, e tu l'ultimo sarai ch'abbia nido in questo cor.

SCENE 18 [Ben moves to the side of the couch]
BEN: He fell. The stairs of the pensione. All the way down. And sustained multiple fractures in his left leg because his bones were so weak. We made it to Rome, but they wouldn't let us on the plane. By then he had pneumonia again. If you're that sick they won't let you. It's a long flight, the liability and all that. So, he's still there. Where he always wanted to be. He'll never leave now. It was worth it: he was lucky enough to find out.

I want to be saved. I go to bed at night repeating those words to myself like an old Italiana telling her rosary. “Somebody save me, somebody take me home.” But nothing can save us, certainly no Chianti Classico, or Vino nobile or Brunello. And no one is coming to take us home. This is it: we've arrived. There's only one other place to go. You pay the boatman a small fee, because there's no end to tipping, no matter what, and if you're lucky, he'll get you there quickly. Plague has come before. It comes again. And the water of life can do nothing in the face of it.

In my dream the crucified Christ comes down from the cross. The look in his eyes is infinitely sad. He shuffles towards me with his hands extended in front of him. The wounds are still bleeding, but, there's music coming from them. You take another sip of the best stuff you've brought back from your trip, and listen. It's the most beautiful sound you've ever heard! 

[Music: The sublime trio “Soave sia il vento” from Mozart’s Così fan Tutte. Ben simply sits and listens to the music, then pours another glass of wine, stands, toasts and drinks, all in slow motion. He sits down, then lies along the couch, one arm framing his head, as the lighting produces a complex sunset effect timed to the music. Long fade to black]  

(Cast photo from the Tarragon Theatre production of 1997)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Any god who is mine  but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol."
--Abraham Heschel

Monday, June 19, 2017

"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
--Meister Eckhart

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Household Gods

Maybe it's odd to call the shelf above my desk an altar. It's actually a blocked-in window frame from before this cottage was expanded 60 or 70 years ago. It's not as though I have a practice that's anchored to the space--unless the whole of my time at my desk is a kind of practice. Perhaps I should just call it a reminder of some things that sustain me and energize my life, carried from winter quarters to summer quarters and set out here for as long as this migration lasts.

To the lower left, a statue of Hanuman that held the ring I received from the man I used to live with, for the year after our relationship ended.

The decorated box I worked on for two months last summer.

Above it, a poor inkjet copy of Josef Kozak's "Cernunnos," who for me is also Shiva, Jesus, and the stud of my dreams, all rolled into one.

The mala I use to count breaths during centering prayer, draped over one of a trinity of ceramic phalluses slip-cast by Abwoon.

The singing bowl I bought at the gift shop of Wildwood during Body Electric's Dear Love of Comrades retreat fifteen years ago.

An icon from the shrine of Julian of Norwich that a sometime lover and friend of thirty years gave me on my fiftieth birthday. Which was way too fucking long ago.

A Shiva Lingam given to a friend of mine by a closeted gay man in Varanasi, and gifted me in turn.

Around another of Abwoon's slipcast phalluses, to the left, a talisman made by Badger from a smooth river stone and twisted recycled copper wire.

In the foreground, the clutter of my desk.

Ask me at the end of the summer what it all means.

And the box:

Antique hardware store drawer, beachcombings, cropped Tom Bianchi photographs, acrylic paint. Slicing up Bianchi's sexy, commodifying images of buff circuit boyz helps me work through my deep ambivalence about his pictures. On the one hand, I blush to say I find them riveting. On the other hand, I find the ethics of his project deeply unsettling. Yes, his pictures celebrate joyous and unashamed male eros. But they also create very little space for those of us whose DNA doesn't make the grade, and who haven't spent twenty hours a week at the gym for the last five years.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Not So Long Ago, In a Place Not So Far Away: A guest post by Hoppergrass

On the cusp of summer's arrival (or sort of), thanks to Hoppergrass for his reflections on what we've lost, and we could regain.

Not so long ago, in a place not so far away, men and boys swam naked.

Philip Gladstone, "The Twenty."

They undressed, showered, eliminated and horsed around together. I thought about this during a recent trip to Iceland, where trans-generational communal showers are ubiquitous at geothermally heated swimming complexes and at natural hot springs. Every facility had a large sign in the (un)dressing room instructing the patrons to "shower nude" before entering the waters. In the gang showers, there were fit 20-30 somethings, flabby elders, gangly teens, prepubescent boys, along with toddlers and infants in readily-available plastic highchairs that allowed their responsible-adults to shower unimpeded. I observed no evidence of embarrassment, no shame, no averted eyes nor intentional exhibitionism as soapy hands washed bodies, pits, genitals, and ass-cracks. These weren’t clothing-optional or nudist facilities: the mixed-gender pool area required bathing suits.  


When did this all change in North America? 

In the late 19th century, as idyllically photographed and painted by Thomas Eakins, male trans-generational nude swimming was commonplace.

While mixed-gender bathing required full-torso garments for both women and men until after WW II, when men began routinely to expose their chests, the acceptance of men naked together in and around water persisted through mid-20th century America as they swam in schools, at the Y, and at private athletic clubs. 

Between the end of WW II and the rise of hippiedom, prudery progressively covered genitalia in all-male environments. As an early adolescent in the late 1950’s at boy scout camp, we still went skinny-dipping. I wonder how often that happens now. 

When did men and boys start feeling a fear of nakedness in front of other males? Why do even men cruising gay bathhouses today walk about with towels around their waists? Why do some gay men at “clothing-optional” resorts wear swimsuits not just to lounge but while in the pool or hot-tub? 

Not long ago I visited a hot springs north of San Francisco frequented by people of all genders and sexual orientations. Although the bathing area was designated “clothing optional”, only a few women wore bikini bottoms, and all men were nude. And then, in the more conservative East, my grandson and I were naked in an old-fashioned gang shower alongside a mix of boys, teens, men and elders -- most showering uninhibitedly, though a few wore their swimsuits as they soaped and rinsed. There I overheard an exchange between a preschooler and his grandfather, a child’s inquiry answered directly and accurately, without embarrassment: 

"I have a penis and you have a penis."
"My penis is little and your penis is big." "
Yes, But your penis will be big when you get big."
For way too long, I lived with a negative body image, and in particular felt deep anxiety about cock size. I wonder whether an easily accessible zone of shared social nudity among men would have helped me recognize earlier that I was just fine, right where I belonged on the spectrum of male anatomy. I wonder how much youthful (and adult) anxiety about the variety of male bodies, young and old, the restitution of shared nude swimming might defuse.

Paintings by Philip Gladstone.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Split a piece of wood, and I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.

--Gospel of Thomas, Logion 77

Friday, May 19, 2017

Honoring Flesh, Honoring Spirit: Paul Rosenberg

This meditation is the work of Paul Rosenberg, the funny, wise, playful, and eloquent founder of the extraordinary tribe that is Rain City Jacks. It’s reblogged here with his permission from the group's website. 

Honor the Penis 

Repeat after me: This is my penis. It is part of me. It grows from me and extends into me. This penis is beautiful. My penis is a source of my joy. I know my penis. I care for my penis. My penis motivates me and moves me. My penis feels good. My penis feels wonderful. The pleasure of my penis radiates into and all through my body. My penis teaches me focus. My penis teaches me self-possession. My penis belongs to me and I command it. I am in charge of my penis. My penis is a reflection of my confidence, my maleness, my physical and mental health. My penis leads me to pleasure. My penis leads me to love. I love my penis.  I love my beautiful penis. I honor my penis and will never take it for granted. I promise to treat my penis well for as long as life allows me to be with it. I promise to take good care of my penis. I choose to share my penis, but my penis will always belong to me. I love my beautiful penis.

A lifetime ago, a time you can not and will never remember, a baby boy explored the world with wide-open eyes, a tasting mouth and reaching, grasping fingers. He was an experience sponge, taking in unimaginable quantities of information and learning, learning, learning from all of it. He took it all in and put his world, his life, his self in order according to those experiences. He is every baby boy.

And the reaching, grasping hand naturally, rightly fell between his legs and found his penis. It was not separate from him. Nothing was. Everything was him and he was everything. He was pure experience without subject or object and everything was more experience. His penis felt good when he touched it.

And sometime in those early years, someone big and powerful took his hands and began to divert them away from his penis, began to separate him from it with actions, words, spoken and unspoken intentions and with clothing. This too, is every baby boy.

Before sex was feeling and touching our penises was always a good feeling. Like all humans we naturally return to what feels good and push away what feels bad but this good feeling was not appropriate to our civilizations. Virtually every human society separates baby boys from their penises and even though virtually every boy finds his way back, that separation is always part of him.

We can not erase our fundamental understanding of the universe, and that is what we are sorting out as babies. What is this experience we call life? What am I and what are you? The answers we get as babies, learned through gentle directions of those far bigger and more powerful than us are permanent. We can revise, extend, reconfigure those knowings, but they are always in us.

My penis is a vital, literally vital part of life. It is my primordial connection to all men, all apes, all primates, all mammals, all animals and all life. The separation I was taught can not overcome that basic reality of my body and my species. I can not and will not abandon my penis to the fear of sex that was foisted upon me as an infant.

I claim my penis now, today, tomorrow and as long as I live. It is fundamentally good and inseparable from me. I will honor it with my loving touch, my full attention, my caressing and stroking. I will grant it orgasms and ride upon the waves of joy emanating from it. I will rest with it, wait with it, bring it with me everywhere and I will love it and every part of my life because my life is a precious, transient gift.

Reclaim and take full, joyful possession of your own beautiful penis every day. Love it, stroke it, bring it to orgasm and get to know it in exquisite detail. This is what you are sharing with your fellow man and woman, your personal self, your beloved, beautiful, confident, healthy penis. I will share mine with you and together we will experience the precious, bittersweet ecstasy of life for a moment or a lifetime.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Part of Your Soul, on a Table: Christopher's Altar, in His Words

My Personal Sacred Space

David introduced me to the idea of a personal altar a number of years ago.  It is an idea that tucked itself away in a corner of my brain.  Occasionally, it would pop out of the corner, and then return.  Last summer, I moved into my own apartment.  It is wonderful to be in a space that I can call my own, and into which I can set up my own processes.

            After a brilliant time last summer at the StoneSong Retreat, the idea of a personal altar pushed forward with increasing frequency.  Perhaps it was the gift of a Ganesha at the beginning of the retreat that helped me to entertain this idea more concretely. 

            Through contacts in my hometown, I was introduced to a local carpenter – a home renovator by day, and artisan woodworker by night.  As I described my idea, JK became more intrigued and excited.  I left the idea with him for a few weeks.  A call came.  He had found a piece of wood he thought might work for the top.  And so, I met the quilted maple that became the table.  I wanted a “live edge” and the slab of maple had a beautiful one.  There is a knot from a branch that is actually light rather than the usual dark interruption.  There is spalting to add more texture.  While it said “ah, yes” in its rough state, when it was finished this wood now sings.  As we talked in his workshop, JK became truly engaged in the idea and suddenly, a wood called Purpleheart from Brazil would become the legs, and dark walnut would become the shelf I hoped for.  JK would detail the mortise and tenon of the shelf into the leg and wedge it with maple.  We agreed to finish it with beeswax so the wood could continue to breathe.  All agreed, I left JK to his work.  The result is more than beautiful than I imagined.  This was a first project of this kind for JK, and I think he was inspired.  David has written that sometimes we find Life in unexpected places.  I think this is one of those moments – for both JK and me.  I feel blessed to have met this excellent young craftsman.

            So now, my altar sits in my dressing room.  This is the room deepest in my apartment space, and furthest from the living room and kitchen, and murmur of street traffic below.  It is quiet and can be totally dark when I close the door.  It is where I dress, and truth to tell, am most often naked.  I am starting to spend some longer time in this space (thanks to a small chair that I have placed there – creaky old bones need help!).  I can breathe and be open, and stand (or sit) naked in front of my altar, and sometimes I start my edging there in front of my altar.  It is a place where I try to bring my spiritual self and my sexual self into closer connection.

            There are two levels to my altar.  I am working on the interplay between the upper and lower levels – some things below are deeply important and formative, some are things that I am still unpacking.  The shelf is important.  There is a mala that was gifted to me by a wonderful woman when I retired.  The amethyst geode and necklace remind me of the earth and are my birthstone in different forms.  The Icon of St Christopher is partly a reminder of my own responsibility as a man.  The inukshuk was a gift from a spiritual family when I retired and moved to my new town and life.  As an inukshuk is composed of many stones and is a guide post, this one grounds me in a sense of many “home” places, and so guides me back to a centre.  The table has two crucifixes – one was a gift from Oberammergau, the other is one that I acquired while studying in England.  There is a lingam and yoni that I have been blessed to have anointed with a dear, dear friend who lies deep in my heart.  The singing bowl and candle are there as light and sound.  A small Buddha meditating, and the Ganesha rest on the top as aspects of spirituality that are new and intriguing me.

            This is my altar as it stands now.  I like to think of it as dynamic and growing more sacred as I use it.  It will change as I do.  The Rublev Icon is new.  I am learning to think of the Trinity as a positive dynamic force in the world calling me (and others, I hope) to be positive and dynamic too.  I pray this altar will help me to become a small part of that energy. 
This post is part of a series in which men share the personal sacred spaces they've created, how they use them, what they mean. I invite you to share a photograph of your own altar or sanctuary, and your words describing it. -- David