Sunday, May 9, 2010

I left a part of my heart in Cleveland.

So this past weekend I ventured to Cleveland and had an amazing time.  It was the first time visiting that side of Cleveland, I have always stayed on the west side and only ventured down town once or twice at night for different reasons.  This trip I spent my time on the east side with Jake and Cody.

The drive there was uneventful, although I did get to enjoy some awesome Starbucks on the turnpike, that's always such a treat!  The barista was a bit caddy but he was cute at least.  There aren't all that many turns between my house and their house so it was actually very easy to find.

Cody took me to Lakeview Cemetery.  It seems odd to some people to spend the day at a cemetery but this place is beautiful!  We started at Garfield monument, the place built for president Garfield and where he and his wife are entombed in the lower level.  It is a beautiful building filled with details that just can't be redone anymore.  The craftsmanship of the days gone past just can't seem to be matched.  Quality craftsmanship, quality design, it was a really awesome building.

We wandered around several sections of the cemetery viewing all the beautiful monuments.  I am still in awe of the time, talent and money that went into these monuments.  We checked out a chapel on the grounds and many of the mausoleums.  Jake joined us and we checked out several more sections as well as the dam, that at the time didn't seem to be damming much of anything. lol.  It was a great afternoon of great conversation, great art, and time with some great friends.

That night they surprised me by taking me to their church, Franklin Circle Community Church for a new member dinner.  I think the surprise was more of the tour of their church that they were giving after the dinner, but really the dinner was something just as special. I have heard so much about their church through them, but reading about it and hearing about it really doesn't do it justice.

I have had a really hard time over the last week to come up with words to share the experience but I have had a terrible time with it....until I had lunch with my parents.  I had lunch with them and mom wanted to hear all about it so I told her.  I told her it was an amazing experience to really see God's love in action.  It's hard to talk about it because it sounds like I'm belittling the other church's I love, but I'm really not.  I have seen church's reach out to the poor, reach out to people in need, to reach out to all sorts of people, but rarely do you see a church reach out to the gay community.  This community of people that seem to have to search further and harder for a church to accept them, to find people to accept them with open arms.  To see different types of people all gathered together worshiping God was just so amazing.

My mom was very excited about it all.  She began talking about how wonderful it is that church's are finally opening their eyes and loving people and showing them that we are all broken in our own ways, and no matter who you are, what you do, or who you love, that God's grace is open to all.  I was actually slightly surprised at how easily it flowed out of her mouth, I knew she had been changing over the last 5-10 years but I never expected to hear it so plainly and with such excitement.

My mom wanted to know more about the service and we talked about synods and where Franklin Circle originated from and what they believe etc... She's always fascinated by this and likes to hear about other church's and of course was very excited that I saved her a bulletin, she has a collection in her office.  I told her what an experience it was to have lunch with the eclectic group of people with such eclectic conversation and what a joy it was to dine with these people.  She was surprised to hear the pastor had a partner also, but then proceeded to tell me about how the ELCA has opened their policies and approved pastors with partners and allowed church's to bless same sex unions.  I asked her if she thought our church would ever consider doing that in our own church.  She said it's been discussed because we do have 2 gay couples in our church (shocking, I only knew of one) and said our council is probably a ways away from agreeing on that issue but said that pastor has already said he would be happy to do it and if asked would jump at the opportunity.

I was not really shocked by the news, our pastor is a really great guy and much more open mined than most of our congregation, but he's been working on them.  He council's so many people, including nearly every member of my family and several of my friends.  He sits with my mother once a week, he spent the first two years meeting with my sister, he's now emailing several times a week with my brother, etc...  He's done amazing work with everyone I just wish I would have had the time to meet with him and speak more often to him while I have been around.

We then moved the conversation to Jake and Cody because she likes to know about the people I call my friends and the people I spend my time with, and since this includes people that have never ventured to Napoleon, Ohio they can only ask questions. lol
The part was deleted from the original post, I'm not sure how, but I had to make sure it was back in here otherwise the rest of the post doesn't make sense.

I hope it's alright, but we talked about a shattered relationship between a son and parents after he came out to them.  I told her I just didn't understand how it could fall apart so quickly.  At this point she looked into my eyes and said "you have to understand that we are a different generation, we were raised differently than we raised our kids.  In our day everything was black and white and it was set that way by preachers ruling with iron fist.  It takes time for our generation to process these things.  Not everyone has our pastor who opens their eyes to the true meaning of Christianity.  No more than 5 years ago I would have found it disgusting and repulsive and I didn't like to talk about it, but then Pastor ******** came and showed me that it didn't matter, and how could love be disgusting?" 

She continued with telling me that we kids didn't give her enough credit, that she was not the same person she was in those years we were growing up, that she too has grown as a person and can handle more than we think.

I proceeded to tell her about the big steps that were happening in the relationship with your mother and she got a smile on her face.  "That's great, I told you with time people see, people see it's not worth losing a kid over, family is family and who your family loves become family, it's how things are supposed to work."

My heart was in my throat.  Was she really laying the ground work for this?  Was this her "all clear" sign?  Was this her reaching out to me?  In my family we live in subtlety, sometimes we speak in code to let the other person know what we're thinking, we're not really a come out and say it type of family.  That moment opened my heart and lightened my spirit and I felt like a million dollars.  I felt like maybe this secret I've been keeping may first, not really be all that much of a secret, and second that when the secret is revealed that it will be an open dialogue and will be o.k.

It was at this point I recalled something that triggered in my mind earlier but didn't give too much thought too.  When we first sat down to lunch we had a discussion, I can't remember what brought it on, but essentially it was about me still being single at the age of 33 and my mother commented about it was probably for the best at this point while I sorted out everything that happened in Michigan and the business being sold and this way I wasn't tied down preventing me from moving back to the city life that I've missed.  She stated there were plenty of eligible people in Cinci and when the right person came around I would know it and it would all be worth it. Through the entire conversation I realized she had changed her use of pronouns as I have been doing for a couple of years now.  She no longer used the pronouns "she" and such, everything was a very general term.  I noticed it during the conversation but didn't put much thought into it, not until after we had the other conversation.

So not only was my weekend in Cleveland amazing, it was a catalyst for a conversation that meant so much to me.  I still can't believe it.  I spent the rest of the day on Friday trying to think of who to call, but no one was available, but I did get to share the story with Free and Charro that night and I just felt so great about it.  It will still not be easy, but when the time comes it will come with a little more comfort than originally thought.  The one thing Free asked was "what did your dad say?"  To be honest, he's always quiet during these conversations, I'm starting to think it might be harder for him, but I have a feeling he'll be o.k. with it.  I guess we'll see.

So anyway, there it is.  I got to spend a great weekend with amazing experiences, not to mention I got to be a witness to Cody's baptism which was an experience all in itself, that I was so happy to be a part of!  Great friends, great time, and great experiences is all a very good reason that a part of my heart will always be left in Cleveland. I sure hope I get to visit more in the future!!


  1. Holy crap, P!!!

    It took a while to get this post out of you, but it was certainly worth the wait!

    I'm so excited for you!

    We're glad you had a good time, and you are always welcome to visit! (The dogs miss you!)

    If it's okay w/you, I'd like to pass along this post to Pastor Allen.

  2. That's fine with me. :) As long as you share my thanks with him as well. :)


  3. You were right! Holy crap wasn't sufficient!

  4. P.

    What an incredible account of your time in Cleveland, and what a truly humbling and amazing testimony to Franklin Circle Christian Church. It was a joy to have you visit with us, and we were thrilled that you could be there for both the dinner/tour and the worship with Cody and Cliff's baptisms. I know it meant so very much to Jake and Cody.

    And going out to eat with you afterwards was an added treat. I truly felt completely relaxed with you, and was really interested in your own story. Reading what happened with your conversation with your mother was fantastic! My, how things change when we lean into love... and stay with folks we care about through their wilderness wanderings.

    Thanks, so much, for sharing with me. What a privilege!

    God's Grace Is Abundant!
    Pastor Allen