I awoke yesterday morning thinking about two loves I discovered in high school. Or, perhaps two loves that discovered me.
Memory is tricky. And so, I am not clear on facts…the exact “when”, for example, and the “why”. Truth be told, I have more emotions around these things then I have facts, anyway. I have more of a sense of the moments that stand out, then I do of what led up to them, or, what followed.
So, here is a moment from that time…
It is the early 70’s. I am walking home from the bus stop, with my books under my arm. The Prayer of Saint Francis is going through my mind: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…”. I would eventually use a line or two from that prayer as the quote beneath my yearbook picture.
I cannot say, now, what attracted me to that prayer back then. I don’t recall how I came upon it. I do recall that it had some meaning for me that seemed strong, significant. If I could, I would tell you that it was about who I hoped to be. Or, perhaps who I was already. Or, something I wanted and didn’t have. But, I can’t recall.
I would like to say that I was an old soul, wise before my time, full of compassion for others. But, as tempting as revisionist history is, I am going to avoid it. I have spent far too much time striving to portray myself in a good light, and twisting myself into a pleasing picture for everyone else, only to learn in the last decade that honest self-searching, and discernment with others, leads to a more balanced picture of who I am. And, that what others may think of me is none of my business. Such is the beautiful and practical spirituality of the 12 steps. And, the gift of companionship with others on this spiritual journey.
Another moment from that time…
My best friend, Steve, and I, are at the beach. We are laying on a towel. It’s warm and sunny; late afternoon. I have some fleeting urge to kiss him. I don’t. We go off somewhere to do high-school-boy stuff like look for frogs. I think we end up putting a fire cracker in some poor frog’s mouth. So much for integrating St. Francis’ spirituality.
Ah, but integration is what it’s all about, now that I sit here typing in 2011. And I can say that because I spent decades away from my soul, and its true longings, only to come back to it in the last 15 years. I buried the truth of my sexual identity, harming myself and others, until late in my 36th year. I didn’t pray those words (“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace..”) again, until I re-discovered them on a 12-step retreat, sometime in my mid-40’s.
And, in both cases, I had such a profound sense of home-coming.
Of rightness and wellness.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
TS Eliot, Little Gidding, Four Quartets