Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nourishing the Tree

There are a lot of things going right in my life right now.

Teaching has been my life's ambition, and I'm finally getting ready to teach as adjunct faculty at United Theological Seminary in the Spring. I've been mapping out class lectures, discussions and readings, putting together course materials, including a detailed bibliography of American Religious History, covering the whole gamut: from Puritans and Indians to New Agers, from Andover to Zen. I am thrilled by the intellectual challenge of teaching again, and am looking forward to new relationships and friendships with students and with other faculty.

I'm working on a book on homosexuality and the Church, and I have a great lead on a publisher. More importantly, as I've continued to "search the scriptures," I feel I've made some conceptual breakthroughs, and am excited about writing the last chapter. And I realize that the greatest accomplishment of writing this book has been the personal journey that has accompanied the writing.

My relationship with my partner is growing in incredible ways, including that he has finally come to a point of basic acceptance of my desire to renew my relationship with the LDS Church. And we are getting ever closer to becoming foster parents, which is something we feel both excited and humbled by. We celebrated our 15th anniversary in August, and I realize that our bond with each other and love for one another is more profound and more grounded and nurturing to us than ever. I feel so incredibly lucky.

Sunday, I had an amazing meeting with my bishop. Each time I talk with him, I leave with such an incredible sense of joy and peace, and I feel so incredibly loved. I feel motivated to do better, and feel so incredibly grateful that the Lord has called him to be in the position where he is.

In my personal life, I am becoming aware of the blessings that have come by exercising ever-increasing discipline in my life in terms of daily prayer and scripture study; avoiding pornography and exercising greater discipline over my thoughts; "guarding my heart"; obeying the Word of Wisdom; and faithful Church attendance. I find the "calm center" in my life expanding, helping to make me a more effective instrument of peace and love. I notice that things that used to really bother me just don't any more. I've noticed some significant milestones.

I remember the first time I re-read Alma 32, and the parable of the seed. At the time, I knew the seed was good, because I could feel it "sprouting" in my heart. That was the only proof I had! That was almost two years ago. I feel like I've come to a place in the journey now, where "behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us" (Alma 32:37). I'm actually seeing the growth, something more than just a "sprout," and it's exciting, and I actually want to keep nourishing it!

I am aware that all the good things that have come into my life have come because I treated each day as a new day, a day when mistakes made yesterday could be fixed, when progress from yesterday didn't matter because I still had more miles to go. Each day is a new day when I either turn my heart toward God and say, "Here am I. What would you have me do?" or when I turn my heart away from God and start getting distracted or caught up in dramas of my own creation. Blessing and cursing is always right there on the threshold. I choose.

I am aware that good things don't always last. It does not matter how well things are going. What matters is the orientation of my heart. I realize that as good as things are going, if my eye is not fixed on Christ and on the path he's shown, I can slip from joy to hopelessness in an instant.

Sorrow doesn't last forever either. It does not matter how poorly things are going. If I focus on the simple things, the basic things, the most important things; if I change the little things I can change; I find that things gradually get better.

Joy comes from being loyal and loving; asking God for the gift of the Spirit's presence; always remembering that I am not entitled to the Spirit, but that it is a gift; remembering my place in the scheme of things; and opening my heart to correction. First principles always count, every day of my life: faith, repentance.

It's a new day.


Beck said...

It is a new day! And we are given a new day every day!

Joy based on loyalty and love - that ties well with what I was trying to say in a post of mine on the definition of "joy". I see you embracing a full life of joy!

There is a lot to chew on in your post. The power of choice really jumps out. We are enabled to choose how we react to circumstances and situations.

I'm so happy for your relationship with Goran, with your Bishop, with your profession, with your future child etc. What amazing things are happening and in store for you!

I encourage you to finish writing your book - if ever there is one to write a book addressing homosexuality and the church in a unique and appropriate point of view, it would be you!

Maybe someday someone will write a book on the married gay guy point of view... it certainly hasn't been written yet, at least that I'm aware of.

J G-W said...

You're right, there's a huge need for that book by a gay married Mormon.

Perhaps Ty's new anthology will fill some of that need... I hope he will include some chapters by folks who are in mixed-orientation marriages.

Garrett said...

I happened onto your blog today and wanted to say hello. I like this post because here in Provo it's autumn, and every autumn I go to the MTC grounds and BYU campus and gather acorns because of Alma 32. I let them sprout in my window over the winter and give the new oak trees to people I love in the spring.

I think your book sounds wonderful. I hope you get it published.

My family's from Vaasa. I never learned Finnish or Swedish, but it's interesting how some Finns stay so close to the homeland. ;)

Best wishes.

J G-W said...

Thanks, Garrett!

Alma 32 is one of my favorite texts about faith too.

My parents still go back to Finland from time to time to visit my mom's family. My partner and I are hoping to be able to go there together in the next year or two.