MY KARMA RAN OVER MY DOGMA
It is no secret that the Catholic Church (MY church, or so I thought) frowns upon homosexuality, stem cell research, same sex marriage, freedom of choice and any number of other issues that I either espouse, practice or agree with. But up until Sunday, I always felt welcome at Sunday Mass.
Apparently, there is a new associate pastor at St. Ann's in Bethany, a young man who has decided to lead with his chin when he gives his sermons. To paraphrase his intro to this Sunday's sermon, he decided he "wasn't going to go near the gospel passage that entreated wives to obey and be subordinate to their husbands" -- "not with a 10-foot pole." That got a chuckle from the parishioners. Nope. He decided instead to lash out against the inherent immorality of gays, stem cell research and same sex marriage. And he cautioned that anyone who supported any of those activities was not welcomed in the Catholic Church. Never before have I felt so insulted, offended and enraged, all in the space of less than 60 seconds. "Welcome to Catholicism."
I guess, given his audience of mostly middle aged, white married couples, he figured it would be safer to single out those of us who belong to the fringe element. It rather reminded me of Senator George Allen's recent oafish remarks to a young opposition researcher of Indian descent who invaded Allen's campaign event in rural south western Virginia: "Welcome to America, Maccaca."
What irks me most today, 36 hours later, is that I have chosen to remain a catholic, despite the overwhelming exhortations of friends, because my Bowie pastor assured me a year ago when I returned to Mass after a 30-year absence, that I shouldn't let the fact that I am gay stand between me and my God. Seems the Bethany priest didn't get that memo, because he certainly doesn't operate with the same degree of tolerance or compassion I found in Maryland. I feel like a gauntlet has been thrown down, and I must summon up the courage to address it, spiritually and then literally, to the St. Ann's pastor.
TO BOAT OR NOT TO BOAT,
THAT IS THE QUESTION...
Having faced that slap of cold reality on Sunday, I decided to come to grips with another issue I have been putting off. In what will seem like the mother of all non-sequiturs, I turned my attention to my boat. Since early May of this year, it has been sitting idle in the slip I purchased for it last Spring... a $25,000 investment moored to a $30,000 hunk of floating real estate.
I intended to name my boat "Baramula East" in homage to a long-ago Mendocino vacation cottage that was sublimely idyllic. In hindsight, I should have cut to the chase and named it "Bucklew's Folly," because it represents the most outrageous example of impulse buying I have committed in all my 56 years. It also represents a time in my life when luxury boat-buying was only one of the several questionable decisions I made.
So this morning I made the decision to cut my losses -- at least my material losses -- and put the boat (if not the slip) up for sail.. er, sale. What is true is that my life has careened in many different directions since May 2002, and the solitary confines of boating solo no longer holds the charm it once held. And I never guessed it would be so difficult replacing my "First Mate."
NEW CHALLENGES (or) "When God closes a door, He opens a window."
Exit boating, enter GOLF. When I embrace a new interest, whether it is a new hobby or a new skill, I throw myself into it 300 percent. It was true 20 years ago when I got interested in wine, it was true 10 years ago when digital photography first delighted and amazed me, it was true five years ago when boating consumed me, and it is true today, as I embark on a new passion, thirsty to learn all that is required to be respectable in playing a game of golf.
Perspective is everything, and for me, at this stage and age in my life, finding something that inflames my passion for learning a new skill, especially one that relies as heavily on physical prowess as it does mental focus, is absolutely a GODSEND. It is juicy and delicious and humbling and enthralling and oh so beautiful in the morning when the fog has just lifted and the dew is still heavy on the ground. And it is practiced in graceful, bucolic surroundings offering the most magnificent vistas. Almost like an outdoor cathedral.
I am into my second year in retirement, and this new obsession couldn't have arrived at a more opportune time in my life. I have the time, the resources and the incentive, not to mention a gazillion opportunities, to study the rudiments of the game, take practical instruction, practice what I learn and put it all together on any number of fine local golf courses.
And unlike boating, where it was next to impossible to meld schedules with anyone who might join me on the high seas, golf has expanded my social circle and given me an open door to a pasttime that I can enjoy well into my dottage. It is something I can enjoy in solitude, on the driving or practice ranges, and it is a team sport that welcomes participants at all skill levels. What's not to love about that! And almost every woman I know plays golf!!!!!!
Surely the most gratifying aspect thus far for me is that with a modicum of weekly golf clinics and due diligence on the driving/practice range, I have gotten good enough in a mere six weeks to post a respectable round of 80 on the scoreboard after 18 holes at a local course. The magic of golf is that no matter how many humbling stinkers I hit, there are those pocketful of lucky shots that just light my hair on fire when I hear that coveted "ping" of club face squarely meeting the ball.
Maybe it is just summertime or a new era, but life has gotten more social lately and my community of friends is slowly but surely widening. In the past six or seven months, through the wonders of online social networks, chance meetings, new hobbies or full moons, I've met many new friends and enjoyed a more robust social life than I did my first summer here as a Delawarean. And what is true, is that no matter how much I enjoy my "life of the mind" perched here at the computer or bent over an art or photo project, nothing takes the place of personal interaction: making someone smile, sharing a meal, engaged in friendly competition or sharing a heart to heart talk.
ISN'T IT MORONIC (Sad but true headlines)
* Tom Cruise and Paramount parting ways... YAWN...
* John Mark Karr -- Your 15 minutes is over...
* Bush celebrates Katrina anniversary... PUHLEEESE!
* "Morning After Pill" finally given the green light -- eight years after the launch of Viagra...Enough for tonight...