We approach Walpurgis Night, May Eve…

Dear Friends,

In some folklore May Eve or Walpurgis Night or Walpurgisnacht is a time when Witches and Spirits are abroad, the bonfires associated with this Holiday in Europe are said by some to be lit to ward off wandering Spirits and Ghosts.  Many contemporary Pagans focus more on life and fertility and the Fey and Nature Spirits this time of year, and they are an important part of the equation, but The Beloved and Honored Dead are also amongst us this time of year.

I will need to keep some Barley apart from my packing, or perhaps set aside a bottle of Wine and some Bread and Fruit and sneak off for a midnight picnic with The Fabulous Jonathan to honor the Night and the Spirits of May Eve as well as the Passion and Playfulness of May Day and the Fey.

Honor the Holy Powers, Honor Life, Honor The Living and The Dead.

Peace,

Pax

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Religion and Spiritual Practice and Beloved Community and Love are what sustains us….

Dear Friends,

I am still here.  I am breathing and grounding and centering and still struggling to yoke myself to a meditation practice and to physical excercise – although I have been trying to walk more so some progress is being made on that front.  Mostly, I have been doing a lot of grieving, for a lot of reasons.  Unpacking 4 years of my life that I left locked away for the last (slightly under) 2 years since the break-up.  Dealing with stuff.

I have prayed a fair amount, and continued my Chakra work and daily prayers and listened to a lovely sermon at the U.U. Church on Hope, and have been sharing with and supported by various far-flung and local members of my personal Beloved Community.

I am also trying to sort out thoughts and will be getting to work on some writing projects in a week or two after this weeks move.

Peace,

Pax

“Wake me up when September ends…”

Dear Friends,

A while  back I did a  mini-post on the equinox that was a reference, not only to the song, but to the theme in my life of some pretty big life changes at or near the Autumnal Equinox… apparently it is the Spring Equinox’s turn…

My ex, The Big Guy, passed away sometime on the 21st…

I started writing the following this last September as I tried to sort out my thoughts and feelings about a man I still loved… I had never stopped… it was complicated and I maintain we both made mistakes and (even as I love and cherish what I have with The Fabulous Jonathan) I wish I could have been a better partner to The Big Guy…

Here is what little I wrote about my meeting with The Big Guy…

On 9/25/10, I will have been in Orlando for 5 full years.  Green Day’s song was all over the radio that Autumn.  I was finishing things up in Anchorage and getting ready for the cross country move to start my new life here in Orlando with The Big Guy…

The first time I say him, at a men’s club meeting, he was visiting L___, his then boyfriend, and checking out Anchorage.  I say his blue eyes and boyish face from across the room I can remember thinking to myself.  “Wow, he’s just so beautiful!” … but he was also someone elses boyfriend… and his then bf was someone who had chased me quite ardently until he caught me and then dropped my like a hot coal… he latter badmouthed me as a slut around the Gay community in Anchorage when the strange forces of fate combined with the relatively small pool of single well-adjusted Gay men in my hometown led me to be the next guy to date a couple of his exes after things with L ended or ended badly for them.  The whole avidly pursuing and then losing interest after catching a guy was a longstanding habit of L___’s, as I later learned and a pattern he would end up repeating with the Big Guy after BG had moved up to Alaska from Florida to be with him… funny how these things run in cycles isn’t it?

I next ran into the Big Guy, and L_____, at a men’s club Christmas party.  Then there was the New Years party.

Hosted by a nice couple from the men’s club (it is a Gay men’s social club if you hadn’t clued into that fact already…) at their fabulous Condominium.   The New Years party was attended by many members of the club and several other friends of theirs.  Including some geek friends of mine who I knew would appreciate this cartoon.… which only makes slightly more sense if you’ve seen this

Any how I shared the warped cartoon and a some conversation, and a fair amount of drinks and conviviality with my friends and acquaintances.  As midnight approached L_________ was snogging with someone else and I worked up my courage approached The Big Guy and kissed him, fervently.  That was when I learned that he blushed, like a schoolboy!  A handsome face, beautiful blue eyes, blushes like a school boy a slightly shy demeanor at first and a nice sense of humor.

It wasn’t until February that I heard from The Big Guy asking me for a copy of that cartoon for a friend of his, or at least that was the pretense for writing to me.  My own life was in transition at that point as I had been let go from a previous job and was on unemployment as I worked some stuff out and got some training and assistance from the Alaska Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.  They were helping me get re-diagnosed for my A.D.D. and get medication for it among other things.  Anyhow, I had plenty of free time and started an ongoing e-mail conversation with The Big Guy.

He expressed his unhappiness and frustration in his relationship with L, and I tried to be a supportive friend.  I was DONE dating L’s exes… or so I thought… so I tried to be an encouraging and compassionate voice in his life.  I started by reaching out e-mails of friendship.  Over time we decided to meet up face-to-face and be social after he had had a conversation with L____ about ending things.   We met at a funky little Martini bar in downtown Anchorage…

We had a lovely face to face conversation and went somewhere more private and kissed some more and decided we liked kissing and so started dating.

Despite the lightning bolt of affection and desire I had felt for him, I really wasn’t looking to fall in love.  We dated for a couple of months and then one day there was a movie showing that several members of the Men’s Club were attending and I bowed out of because I didn’t have the money.  We met for coffee and social time later that day and we talked about it, and I admitted  that I hadn’t gone because I didn’t have the money and he said…

“Geoffey, you should have told me, I would have covered you… we’re partners.”

My heart broke open and sang when he said that.

I was going to write out this whole detailed exploration/exorcism of our relationship… how my own A.D.D enabled density and inexperience in real relationship, and his own past history of hurts, and both of our insecurities, contributed to the downfall…  and I held of on writing that…

It was a very bad and painful break-up, and despite the harshness of how he chose to end our relationship and my own deep regrets of my failings as his Partner, I never stopped caring for him and wishing him well or loving him, and always held out hope that we might renew our acquaintance someday and become friends.

He was a sweet, funny, wonderful man.

Good bye, Big Guy

Love,
Geoffrey

I have cried my tears tonight and may cry some more…

Honoring one of my Beloved Dead

Dear Friends,

A dear friend of mine from Church passed away this week-end.

Sandi Gross was 71 years old and an incredibly open hearted and caring person.

She had, in the short time she had been a member woven herself into the fabric of our beloved community and the shock waves from her passing are still rippling and settling.

She was one of my first friends at 1st Unitarian and my pew buddy before I discovered that with the hearing assist devices the Foyer of our Sanctuary becomes a marvelous adult wiggle-room for the A.D.D. blessed amongst us, including yours truly!

I’ll introduce my friend in her own words, from when we joined the Church in the same membership class in February of 2010…

“I was born in Ohio, raised in New  York, got married and lived in New Jersey, Wisconsin and then Florida.  Moved to the Melbourne area in 1964 with my family – husband and three sons. Fast forward to the mid-eighties – now divorced, children grown and on their own and I moved to Orlando to be closer to my middle son. My oldest was in California with his family and my youngest was in the military and stationed in Seattle.
In the mid 90’s I decided on yet one more move – I went to California to spend some time with my granddaughter and get away from Florida and difficulties I was encountering here.  Much was diametrically opposed to my beliefs and I was finding it difficult to have conversations about  daily events with people that I knew…those that I worked with and also those that I knew on a more personal level.  The gulf between our ideas seemed to be getting wider.  I definitely needed to be able to ‘think out loud’  and engage in deeper discussions that I wasn’t able to find here.
I lived there for 10 years and in that time, I spent a good deal of time exploring and examining, listening, reading and asking questions. That, in turn, brought me back to where it all started. And as luck would have it, synchronicity seemed to lead me to the right person, at the right time, in the right  place, who suggested that I might want to come and listen to a Sunday service at First Unitarian Universalist…and they had me at the lighting of the chalice.”
The Chalice lighting which Sandi mentions is a Unitarian Universalist rite that begins and ends many U.U. Services and meetings.  A candle in a chalice is lit, and a short prayer or statement of intent is spoken, in 1u’s case the words are…
“In the light of truth and in the warmth of love,
We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”
Sandi had some health issues, but knew here limitations and showed determination and perseverance, participating in many activities at the Church and working her way around the limitations of her age and health challenges.  She was never, in the time that I knew her, without her sense of humor and a joyful spark.
Once at a Church event, I was helping coordinate things in the Kitchen and doing some cooking and set up and she asked if she could help me with anything and being a bit flustered and scattered I started to show here what I needed done  and she stopped me, putting a hand on my arm….
“Honey, if you are going to learn to manage situations like this you are going to have to learn to tell, not show…” delivered with firm yet amused emphasis that stopped me short….
“Yeah, I guess it would help your ability to do this if I actually let you do it huh?”
“Yes…”  and we smiled at one another and after a brief exchange were off in our separate directions…
She always had time to say hello to you or, to check on how you were doing, or to share a kind (and sincere) word or two.    She was always willing to laugh at herself and with others.  Her hair was dyed a fabulous dark reddish color she always had a pop of color on her.  She was involved in many aspects of our Church and was one of those people who is genuinely curious and open and willing to learn.  She had found her peace and was more than willing to be there as a friend to those who were seeking theirs.
I had gotten to know her better the last few months working the District Assembly with her on the Foods and Planning committee.  I had also recently resolved to be in better touch with my many friends locally and the far-flung ones, which I had been doing good on and had talked with her a few different times in the last few weeks… nothing major just a dear friend who could listen as well as she could share…. someone who could inspire with their experience and example someone who possessed a true spiritual grace that I can only hope to find in my own journey.
Sandi had had some difficult times in her life, and at a point where she had a lot of doubts and fears she spent a lot of her spare time at the sea-shore watching the Ocean.  She was nourished by the beauty of the ocean, and the wind and the waves and the ebb and flow.  The Ocean did not fret or worry, it is what it is.  Which was a piece of wisdom she shared with me a few times and I had begun to appreciate.
I received the news Monday and called a few folks whom, like me, Sandi had given her friendship to and welcomed into our community.  I stopped by the Church on my way across town that evening, and offered a couple handfuls of barley in the memorial garden area of our Church Campus, offering to the memories and spirits of those members of the Congregation who have gone before and asking them to welcome Sandi into their company and the afterlife should she choose to journey on, and paying my respects should she choose to remain in the world.
I should note, U.U. doesn’t have any specific beliefs or dogma about the afterlife, the above is my own influenced by my Paganism.
I will carry her memory with me as I work with the Membership/Fellowship committee and as I attend Church events and functions, and any time I find myself getting cynical or defeatist I will remember her example.
I will make the time for the things the nourish my soul and the souls of those around me, sometimes it is the simplest things we do that can have the most profound of impacts.
Thank you Sandi.
Peace,
Pax / Geoffrey

Notes on the Journey 04/16/11

Dear Friends,

So I have been busy lately.

There was my work with the District Assembly at the 1st Unitarian Church Orlando – including planning the catering meal program and evaluating the Church Campus for meal prep and service and helping supervise the fabulous volunteers for the 2 dinners, then there was crafting the announcement of this years International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month, I have a few interviews and stories brewing for the PNC Florida Bureau, and I am outlining notes for a book on Meditation, I am in the process of moving in with The Fabulous Jonathan, and juggling all of the above with my work schedule and my regular Spiritual Practices and Religious devotions and activities.

So yeah, busy.

So with all of the above going on, I am also wrestling with my blessing of ADHD.  I call  it a blessing because it is something I have to work with, over, around, and through; and that effort and challenge has been a learning and growth experience – it is still, however, also a difficulty sometimes…  Like now, when I have a lot of things calling to me to do and participate in and that I need to take care of… We ADHD blessed folks can have a tendency to over commit ourselves and then lose track of things, so I am doing my best to keep a healthy balance.

I keep trying to approach my Practices, and am STILL having trouble settling into a meditation practice… which is strange because when I do stop and force myself to meditate I find in myself in a deeply calm and able to face anything.  I have been thinking about this resistance of mine a lot lately.  It seems to me that this resistance is, at its root, that deeply ingrained suspicion with happiness that I have wrestled with for years, the legacy of a very emotionally difficult childhood in my beloved yet dysfunctional family.

So I breathe, and light the candles on the altar, and pray, and make offerings, and go to Church at the U.U. …

The journey continues as does the learning..

May your own  journey be blessed!

Peace,

Pax

3rd Annual Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month June 2011

The following announcement/invitation went out on the event FB page

“Friends,
We must not be afraid to discuss the values and virtues and ethics we have discovered in our contemporary Pagan faiths. There are enough books on rituals and spells and prayers to last us a few generations… lets start writing works on confronting poverty and hunger from Pagan perspectives. Let us set aside the fear of prejudice, and the once glamorous but now tattered and worn mantle of the outsider and the rebel, and take pride in ourselves and our faiths, in our works and lives and worship and in our Pagan communities and our larger communities.

You can learn more about the event by going here, http://paganvalues.wordpress.com/about/

When you get your contribution written/recorded and posted in June put a link to it in the comments stream here. Tags such as “PVE2011” and “Pagan Values” are also encouraged.

If you feel so moved, please share this event with any and all you feel would like the opportunity to share with the global Pagan community.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart”

I also welcome contributors to jump to the Pagan Values Blogject page for the 2011 announcement and share links/intention there or in the comments to this post.

Peace,

Pax

We must stand up for the future

Dear Friends,

Jason Pitzl-Waters recently shared one of the previously mentioned Symphony of Science videos on his Facebook.  I was deeply moved by it and shared it here.

The ideas and images and words of these pieces have played themselves out and over, again and again in my mind and heart.  I can remember watching some of the episodes of  Cosmos with my family as a child back in the nearly forgotten days when there were 3  networks and television stations would go off the air.  I listen to the musical pieces inspired, in part, by that series and by the scientific wonders and vast possibilities of the world around us; I find myself wondering how and when the once widely popular veneer of hip cynicism became a bone deep cynical nihilism?

Why do so many people choose rage and fear and bitterness and fanaticism?

It seems sometimes that folks think that joy and hope and happiness are either simple minded pursuits; or that people have the idea that these things are achieved only by venting their anger and running away from their fears.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In my experience, happiness and joy and hope are complicated and difficult.  More often than not they seem to come from doing the hard work of facing our fears and working through them, from harvesting the energy of our anger and using it for something more productive to make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of others.

So much of what we hear from popular culture and society is weighted down with despair and predictions of doom and collapse…  Do the authors of such things not realize that the future of humanity is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

We must stand up for the future.

Not only for ourselves and our future generations, but to honor our ancestors and thank them for the gift of our lives and the precious gifts they have given or passed down to us, to honor and be in right relationship with the spirits of the world around us – whatever we concieve them to be, to serve and honor our loving relationships with The Holy Powers ~ whatever our experience or understanding of them; for all of these reasons I believe we have a holy duty to stand up for the future.

We must not be afraid to discuss the values and virtues and ethics we have discovered in our contemporary Pagan faiths.  There are enough books on rituals and spells and prayers to last us a few generations… lets start writing works on confronting poverty and hunger from Pagan perspectives.   Let us set aside the fear of prejudice, and the once glamorous but now tattered and worn mantle of the outsider and the rebel, and take pride in ourselves and our faiths, in our works and lives and worship and in our Pagan communities and our larger communities.

This I believe, is the challenge and the duty the Gods have set before us.

Peace,

Pax