Dear Friends - It’s Time to Remember What our Nation is All About

So many things are changing in our nation right now - civil rights are being taken up and considered in many different avenues. Gun rights are being challenged. Immigration is being reformed. Our representatives are no longer representing us. Our government is killing people across the globe. It’s time for us to stop, take a breather, and rethink about who we are as a nation.

It’s time for us to reconsider what we are about, why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what each and every one of us can do to get our Nation back on track. I offer you a 3-step program that will help YOU, the average Joe/Jane some easy things you can do to help.

1. Brush up on your history and do some light reading:

2. Find just one thing you care about… and take the time to write you Senators and Representatives. It’s okay if you send them all the same letter, just be sure it’s thoughtful, from the heart, and explains to them why you feel the way you feel. You can find your Washington representatives here:

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

3. Volunteer - Instead of playing your xbox or watching TV or going to the bar or whatever you do when you have nothing else to do, go volunteer. There are MANY organizations that could use your help, and it will not only help someone in need, but it will help YOU find a new level of humanity and humility. Our nations needs a HUGE dose of humility.

Find volunteer opportunities here: http://www.volunteermatch.org/

When you’ve done all three, do them again. And again. And again. And make sure your kids do them with you. You’ll become better informed, your voice will be heard, and you will have made a difference. If you want a bonus item, you can try:

4. Talk to your friends about what’s happening in your world and our nation. Tell them about what you felt when you re-read our constitution. Tell them what happened when you volunteered. Share with them how these three things can change you, and how together we can change our nation. 

Not Me, Not MY Rights, Not Mitt Romney

I’ve been pretty quiet about the election up to this point, not anymore. If you are voting for Romney, this message is for you. Please actually take the time to read it - just as I have read the many pro-Romney posts that have appeared in my feed.

I am a gay man, and I believe when the time comes, I should be able to legally marry the guy I love. This is not an attack on your religion. You don’t need to defend yourself against me. I have no interest in getting married in your church. I have no interest in making your church marry gay people. Believe me - your church has done enough harm to us, we don’t want anything to do with it.

Again, I am not ATTACKING your religion. When the Japanese Shogun slaughtered thousands of Christians and banished them from Japan for hundreds of years, that was  an attack on your religion.

When Islamic radicals bomb Christian churches in the middle East, that is an attack on your religion.

When the government of Nigeria drives an explosive-laden SUV into a church, that is an attack on your religion.

When 50 million Orthodox Christians were slaughtered by the Ottoman empire in Asia minor, that was an attack on your religion.

-I- am not an attack on your religion.

When Christian leaders tell you that I am “intrinsically evil” and “false and illusory” and “wrong,” they are attacking ME. They are attacking MY friends, MY family, and MY ability to live a free, just and peaceful life. 

When people who claim to be Christian blame Hurricanes on the homosexual population, they are blaming that hurricane on ME

Romney has been clear in that he believes LGBT people are “not right” and thinks the ability for me to see a sick partner in the hospital is a “privilege” and not a right. He believes I should be forbidden from marrying that partner - that we should be enjoined from ever having legal protections to keep each other safe, secure and taken care of.

If you are voting for Mitt Romney, you are voting for someone who wants me to live a lie, who wants me to hide and repent against my “sins.” You are voting for someone who would rather see me live a celibate, lonely and unhappy life, rather than fall in love, get married and live happily every after.

And if you even want to think I’m voting solely on social issues, you’re wrong. Aside from everything Romney has said and done against LGBT rights, he has lied time and time again (the fact checkers have been incredibly busy with him), he has switched almost every position he ever held to appease moderate voters, and his ideas for fixing the economy are been-there, done-that ideas that will favor the rich and make the poor poorer. I took Economonics 101 in community college, and -I- have a better grasp of the economy than Mitt Romney. He spent an entire debate talking about the 12 million jobs he would create as president, and then his last line of the debate “Government does not create jobs.” 

To add insult to injury, every study he used to come up with the number of 12 million jobs has been thoroughly and COMPLETELY debunked. UHM… need I say more?

Oh, and those 12 million jobs? They’ve already been predicted to be added to the economy regardless of which president is elected.

If you disagree feel free to defriend me now. I’m tired of having my rights up for grabs and voted on. I’m tired of people telling me I’m evil and sick and wrong. Wake up, idiots. God created us ALL in his image, and NONE of us have any right to judge each other. That’s His job and his alone.

The Bigger Picture

Again as I read CNN.com, watch the news, listen to people talk, and utterly feel the hurt and pain and suffering in this world deep within my bones, I ask myself the question “is this what is intended for us as a race?”

Cast all your thoughts and perceptions and beliefs of world policy, human rights, religion, politics, etc. away for a moment (good luck). I’m asking you to think strictly from the mind of a singular, human being. Look at where we are in the world, look at where we are in our evolution - look at where we are situated in our universe, our galaxy, in space itself.

Think for a moment - we’ve been peering into the stars for years and years and years. We’ve been listening to the sky with every scientific instrument we can muster to point up. We’ve shot satellites to the deep trenches of space around our tiny little planet, and yet not a word has been heard. No green aliens have popped up and said hello. No smoke signals have been detected in space. Up to this point, we know ourselves to be completely, utterly alone.

So think to yourself - what if we -ARE- the seedling planet in all of existence. What if we -ARE- the only living beings out there. What if the intention for us, is indeed to seed the rest of universe? What if the intention for us is to populate the planets and the galaxies and the far reaches of existence?

Just as we look back at photos of our great great great grandparents and think of how they we starting a whole new life in just another continent, maybe eons from now civilizations will be looking back at the planet earth as that brave new world that started it all.

All the talk out there about how the world will end, how society will come to a halt, how some massive volcano is going to wipe us out… maybe our job is to evolve beyond that - to further ourselves enough as a human race that simple weather and geology and astronomical impacts are no longer of concern to us, because we have created enough technology to withstand them, survive them, to prevent them. Enough technology to inhabit the Moon and Mars and even Vega. 

Now put your politico-reigio-societo hat back on and look around at the arguments we have in our tiny little countries on this little spec of dust called Earth. Are they worth it? If indeed our job is to civilize the entire universe, does it do us any good to cast ourselves into such distinct segments of people, to start fights with each other, to threaten each other with war and anger and power? 

What would happen if we stopping pointing our guns at each other and we all started looking at the sky? What would happen if we, as human beings, agreed to unite under the stars in the sky and look beyond our worldly lives and into a future further ahead then we can comprehend? Maybe we would be able to create something truly remarkable instead of continuing to destroy something truly irreparable… our legacy.

Is it possible?

Dear “Christian”

Enough with the gay-bashing already. Yep, I called it gay-bashing. You can put whatever saintly, charismatic, pro-hetero-marriage protection and save the children kind of twist to it you want, but in the end, I’m gay, you don’t like it, and you are going to be as vocal as you possibly can be about it.

Fine. I’m okay with that. I TOTALLY get it. You don’t like me. Not everyone does. I want them to, but I’m a realist, it’s not going to happen.

That’s okay. Do whatever you want, I just don’t want to see it. I don’t want to have to deal with it, or accept it. Believe whatever you want, but I don’t believe in your gay-bashyness and I certainly don’t want my family exposed to it. I don’t want them to see the sin that you commit time and time again when you tell us how horrible we are and spread lies about us.

You see what I’m doing here, right? Using your own words and tactics against you - feels great, doesn’t it? Well practice what you preach. I really don’t care how you feel about me or my sexuality. I don’t care about your family values, your bible passages or your definitions of marriage.

Why, you ask? Because I have my own family to worry about. I have my own beliefs to keep in check and guard against infringement. I have my own family values and bible passages, and yes, I even have my own definition of marriage.

So there.

Now you might be asking yourself, if you have YOUR values, and I have MY values, if you have YOUR morality, and I have MY morality, which one of us is right? The answer is BOTH of us.

You see, we live in a nation where we are protected from screwing up each others lives. That’s the whole point of separation of church and state. It means that you get to go over there and practice what you practice, I get to go over here and practice what I practice, and and as long as you don’t tell ME what to do, and I don’t tell YOU what to do, life is peachy and we leave each other alone.

It’s schoolyard politics. You don’t like me, I don’t like you, so we’re probably not going to hang out on the jungle gym together. I’m fine with that. Just don’t yell across the sandbox and tell me to stop being me simply because you don’t agree with it. Those people are called bullies.

I say we just call a truce. Countries do them all the time. They don’t have to agree with each other to call a truce, they just have to agree that continuing to fight against each other is not going to get anyone anywhere except more hurt and more upset. So call a truce. Let us get married in the way we want to get married - in our own church, with our own beliefs, just like we let you do in YOUR own church. And really, over half the nation believes gay marriage is okay. It’s going to happen, so stop with the stomping of your feet and whining and dragging it out already.

Look - I won’t even ASK you to change your beliefs for me. Your church can keep believing that I’m wrong and that’s okay. I’ll be happy enough living my own life separate from you and your life. All I ask is that you stop interfering with my legal protections and stop telling me what I’m allowed to call a “family.” I’ve gotten through 31 years on this earth and I’m a big enough man to know a family when I see one, and determines enough to choose the kind of family I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I don’t need you sticking your nose in it.

What to do with a lonely heart…

A big empty apartment
for my big, empty heart
sizable and accommodating,
both from a fresh start

A cat keeps me company
and friends my spirits high,
though I tremble in solitude
through each lonely night.

Where is the man
who will fill me with love;
where is the man
where push never comes to shove?

Where is the man,
what keeps us apart,
that his still, sweet sanity
might calm my heart.

Grasp my arm,
and hold me tight,
walk with me
and guide with your light.

I’m ready for you,
my love, my art.
Valentines approaches,
I must steal your heart.

[Thanks to Herbert for the edits… the original of this wasn’t nearly as pretty nor grammatically correct!]

Wednesday Beers

Clearing #1: I’ve been drinking since 6:30 and it’s now 11:30

Clearing #2: I’ve had enough beer to be intoxicated

Clearing #3: Don’t worry, I didn’t drive :)

_____________________________

So here’s the thing. I’m in love with like 10 different people right now. Yes, I’m drunk, yes, I’m feeling very good and feeling no pain. But I can honestly say I am in love with at least 10 different people right now.

As of late, I’ve come to know my friends in a different way than I’ve ever known… I’ve become closer, more intimate, more truthful, more open with my friends, and I love it… though there is a part that gets confused in the process. I’m finding myself falling for my friends, falling in love with parts of them, falling in love with the pieces of their personalities that I have longed for…

I went to dinner with some friends tonight, followed by dart night, and even thought I was a bit inebriated, I saw friends who I’d met only a handful of times before (some of them even less than a handful) and upon seeing them again, I felt genuine, true love and appreciation for them. They each have these unique bit and pieces of their personality that I am completely enamored with. Each of them have personality traits and physical traits that lead me down the road of thinking “Gee, I could really, truthfully, honestly be in love with this person” which is super confusing because I’ve been feeling that with a bunch of my friends lately. Maybe I’m just lonely, but I don’t think it’s that.

I think a big part of it is that I have been meeting people and connecting with my friends on an entirely new level. I’m opening my heart, I’m opening my perspective, and I’m looking at the world with a new view… if anything is possible in love, what is possible? Could I fall for my best friend? Could I fall for the guy I just met yesterday? Could I fall for someone who doesn’t fit any mold that I’ve previously thought was “my type”?

Could everything I ever considered about love be completely upside down?

Who knows.

All I know is that I have had the best time with my friends - some of it surprising, some of it not, and all of it wonderful.

In all of this, I know one thing to be true and real - I have the best friends on the planet, I have a life that is absolutely amazing and unpredictable, and I couldn’t be happier about all of it. Perhaps this will all lead to a relationship even more intimate and amazing - and perhaps not. Either way, it’s wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

XOXOXOXO

Andy

Waiting

Waiting for my heart and soul to find accord

Sitting here searching, wondering, worried

Empty, idle, bored

Hands to the devil go down and slither, wrong

Less to do with nothing

More to do with waiting

Waiting

For what? Pray, tell.

For it, for him for something more profound

than these idle hands searching for faith not found

What’s left in this man is aching, steel flesh

Impenetrable to most, mirror to many

See yourself in me but don’t see me

I am silent, hidden away in disdain

For what I feel of myself

is not what I know myself to be

and what I know myself to be

is but a shadow of the real mean

who could come to be

if he weren’t empty

searching

waiting

for what again, you ask?

That remains to be seen.

Dreaming…

Cropped hair and bearded chin
Whiskers scratch
He tucks me in

Envelop me in warm arms strong
Holding tightly
Through nights long

No tickles
No torture
Just loving embracing

Firm grip
Gentle hands
Secure embraces

His hairy chest
My head rests on
Deep gruff voice
carries on

He walks lightly upon the earth
And thinks highly of all our worth

His eyes gentle
His brow furrowed and wise
I can spend eternity
In his mind

I want to do everything for him
To make him happy
A smile he causes
To shine from me

The Bright Sunshine of His Smile

A line of song sung
from his heart and his soul
through a smile
full of hope and radiance
is given to me on waking morning
of love and happiness
and light created
from our union

Less left wanted
and more left filled
my chest is rested
from a weight I carried
before his presence strewn
away the sadness and
I succumbed to his gladness.

He is my sanctity
my prose and my might
His eyes melt away
the very last of my worry
and his arms grasp
the fear that once
left me teary-eyed
and empty without his
love in my heart.

He is unknown to me in person
but alive in my heart he is kept
until the day when I am greeted by
the man I’ve known forever
and never yet met.

I will recognize him by the light in his heart
The sparkle in his eyes
And the bright sunshine of his smile.

Flash of Memo

While unpacking boxes the other week, I was trying to place a box on the shelf above the fridge. Upon first attempt of placing the box, it got stuck on something. I determined in my head that there must be a sticky spot on the shelf, or a brace or something preventing the box from being properly placed. So logically, I tried again and just tried harder. With no further success and the fear or damaging the box I determined that logically there must, in fact, be something on the shelf. A quick jump up to look revealed a small, white binder left on the shelf by a previous occupant of my apartment.

Upon retrieval of the binder, I took one look at it, and an entire flash of memories danced before me. It was a St. Margaret Mary’s Church Cookbook from 1992. St. Margaret Mary’s was my childhood church. I was baptized there, had my first communion there, was confirmed there, and spent a rather significant portion of my childhood crawling in and amongst the pews, pulpits and halls.

It was there, in that church, when I was 19 that I sat in a pew and I cried to God to take my pain away. I begged Him, pleaded with Him, please, please don’t make me go through this. Please, don’t make me decide. Please, God. Please, don’t make me have to choose between You and what I know in my heart is true.

It was then, there, in that moment, that I decided to look away from the faith that had guided me from infancy to young adulthood – the faith that I had spent countless hours, days, weeks, years absorbing and trying to understanding and trying to fit into. The same faith that called me, relentlessly, to serve it selflessly, wholly and with my entire heart. The same faith, that once the truth was spoken, turned its back on me suddenly, deliberately and with finality. I had chosen a path “incompatible” with their teachings and for that, I was no longer welcome at their table.

A simple book brought all this back. In one moment I was awash with anger, resentment, pain, suffering, sadness. Strangely, though, a moment later I was filled with joy.

Flipping through the pages of the cookbook, looking at the names, I began to remember the love. I remembered the hours that my brothers and I would spend making up things to do while Dad decorated the church for Christmas. I remember the countless trips to church prior to advent helping Dad build the nativity scene. It took hours and hours to complete – it was enormous – it filled an entire room which normally held the offertory candles. I remember how it was seemingly magical it was that Dad could transform this room into a snapshot of Christ’s birth. I remember the moment when everything was done, the labor was finished and the very last thing to do was to put baby Jesus into his cradle – which meant that Christmas was really, truly here.

I remember the late night services for Christmas and Easter. They were my favorite. In the evening, the church had such a glow about it, it was serene, it was peaceful, it was loving. It was as if I were being surrounded by the rich, warm glow of God’s love. I remember the Easter fire coming to life in a blaze of glory and majesty, enlivening the church in an even richer and warmer glow of light.

I remember the retreats, the trips, the dinners, the meetings. Countless meetings – organ meetings, board meetings, budget meetings, entertaining countless new priests, bishops and clergy.

Mostly I remember the people. They all seemed so full of love. These people all affected me – molded me – helped me become who I am today. Even in moments of frustration and anger, I could still feel their love. At times now I still feel like the little kid who was small enough to walk amongst their feet, looking up at them in admiration, asking for their guidance.

In all of this, in nearly every moment, I remember the ever-presence of my Dad. The church was his home, the church was his sanctuary, his sacrifice, his love and suffering, his offering to God. He had keys to nearly every room, knew every person on a first-name basis and could be counted upon for anything and everything. Everybody knew Norm. Everybody loved Norm. What would they ever do with without Norm?

I flipped through the pages of the cookbook with vigor. Surely, the Melichar name would be in there someplace. 1992 was the height of service. Mom and Dad were teaching Sunday School. My brothers and I were altar boys. We were there every Sunday and often days in between to decorate this or fix that or attend to whatever needed attended. By this point in our lives we had stopped asking why, arguing or coercing our way out of the trips. We actually went on our own accord and even helped.

Page after page of the cookbook I looke for our name… but it was nowhere to be found. No Hoska recipe, no Kolache recipe, no meatloaf or honey cookie recipe. The pages are eerily blank of the Melichar name and instead full of names that still after nearly 20 years I can remember with ease. Did Dad miss the deadline? Did he simply decide not to offer anything that year? Was he too busy putting up banners or arranging flowers or preparing lesson plans for Sunday School? I may never know.

Last Sunday I became a full-and-actual member of my church. It’s a much different church than what I grew up in. It’s not as beautiful and ornate. There is no stone floor, there are no offertory candles, there are no chiseled-stone communion rails. There is no incense, no statues of various saints. The organ, while mighty, is mostly hidden. It is more plain. In some respects, I miss the grandeur of it all. I miss the magic and the mysticism that surrounded my childhood and made church seem so much bigger than all of us, than any of us, bigger than even we could comprehend as human beings. I think much of that disappears as we grow older. We learn that it isn’t all roses. We grow to see the flaws and the cracks in the marble and the crumbling statues and peeling murals. We learn that with the love can come the hurt and the humility. But even still in all it’s plain and simple surroundings, it holds more grandeur and magic than Margaret Mary’s. The difference is in the people. They are are the most loving, most respectful, most genuine people I have ever had the privilege to meet.

My church now is home to me. I walk into the doors and feel welcome. I get hugs and acknowledgment and love and concern and care. Most of all, I get to be me. I get to be the person that I know in my heart. I get to be real and genuine and exactly as I am and I am always loved regardless – with and without my flaws.

I wonder if this is the feeling Mom and Dad felt when they first visited Margaret Mary’s. I wonder if they felt this welcomed. I image they did – for the next 30+ years of their lives would be with that congregation. They got married there, raised their children there, and gave the sacrifice of their time and their talents to help the place grow.

In some respects I am scared to be a member of First Central. It signifies that I am no longer a child, bouncing around beneath the adults who know better. It means I can’t sit and watch and wait to be told anymore. It means that I can no longer rely on others to show me my faith and my place.

Looking back at everything my dad did for our church, for our faith, for our family, I am humbled and in awe of the contribution he made on the hearts of all those people. Countless people passed through that church and were affected by the things he did. He did so much for so little back then.

I don’t know what the next year, or 5 years, or 30 years means to me or my new church. I just know that I have found a home for my spiritual soul, and that I will continue to nourish it, to learn, and to grow. Hopefully I will someday be able to make as much of an impact on my church as my father made on his. He continues to be an inspiration to me in his sacrifice and his love.

Thanks, Dad. I love you. And yes, all this came from a cookbook.