The New Year arrives with bursting fireworks and great anticipation. We hope for grand new insights, momentous opportunities and obvious pathways. But the year never plays out that way. What actually arrives is a glimmer of light on a road less traveled, suggesting a faint path forward.
Yesterday would have been my 46th wedding anniversary. It is never an easy day. I have written consistently and appropriately that my family’s story is theirs to tell, not mine. I was pleased when Jonathan asked me to respond to five chapters of his book, She’s My Dad, but he was under no obligation to do so.
There was no proper or improper way for my family to respond to my transition. They each needed to do whatever they needed to do. That is still and will always be true. When I was negotiating the life rights for a feature film to be made about my life, I only had a few conditions. One was that I did not want any of my family members portrayed as the antagonists. The antagonists have been the evangelical church, and others who show little respect for the civil rights of LGBTQ people.
Jonathan’s story and mine have intersected fairly often over the past couple of years, as we work together with the WITH Collective of progressive churches. With our TED talk being released this coming Monday, we are getting speaking requests. We will be at the QCF Conference in Chicago on Friday, January 11. Cathy and the girls have chosen to be more private, and I appreciate all of you respecting their privacy.
I loved being married, and I loved parenting, and I miss that part of my old life. But like I said in the TED talk, I have always trusted that the truth sets us free. Free does not mean easy or without pain. Trusting the truth is not easy, but it is good. And the authentic journey offers little gifts along the way, reminders that we are not alone. One reminder arrived a couple of weeks ago.
Every year, the robins return earlier and earlier to the foothills of the Rockies. Last year they came in early January. This year they arrived the third week of December. Maybe they knew the holidays would be hard and wanted to give me a really early hope of spring. Last year there were just two robins. This year I am pretty sure I have counted six. I know some people might say it’s just global warming that has them this far north this early. I think not.
Any time you are in a winter season, there are always signs of spring. The challenge is having eyes to see them. No pie in the sky suggested here, just a willingness to keep looking, as you are able.
For me, the glimmer of hope has been robins, friends, family and co-workers. The last three are always torchlights, blazing a path forward. The robins are there for the dark days, sipping from the waterfall off my patio. The motor that keeps the water falling is its own little miracle, running non-stop for 11 years, pumping water, quenching the thirst of the early robins.
As they stopped for a drink, I took a picture of two of the robins yesterday. They are not obvious in the photo. You have to let your eyes rest on the picture for a while. They were my glimmer of light on what is always a hard day. The robins, and the good friend who checked on me early in the day, and the other friend who texted late in the evening to send a picture of socks with words on them. I’ll leave it at that.
The robins stayed close to the waterfall all day. Every time I looked out they tilted their heads and peered into the glass. They reminded me I was not alone. We never are alone in these things. We just think we are. We humans have a tendency to think we are dying of thirst when we are standing in the middle of a crystal clear river, water rushing around our ankles.
The robins are nowhere to be found this morning. They knew when they were needed. Today they are probably just outside a neighbor’s window, peering through the glass, with their sage wisdom.