Image

Kej

I have used the picture above as my Facebook profile pic on and off for the past three years. It has been my profile pic since a few days before February 4th, 2013. The day Katie and I’s life changed.

So, what am I doing in this picture?

I was in a hotel room in Guatemala City on my last day of a three week stint in Guatemala. I spent the entire time in Xela, a town in the Guatemalan hills, studying at a Spanish Language school, La Paz, and doing some serious introspection. Throughout my time in Xela, I wrote in a journal that I titled, “Inside.”

I did not go to Guatemala to figure out my life’s path, but that’s what happened.

When I returned to Cincinnati, I realized that it was time to leave Moeller. I felt I had, in many humble ways, outgrown the auspices of the Archdiocese. I applied for numerous jobs in the not for profit sector, but then I was presented with the Dean of Student Life position at Purcell Marian. I took it. It seemed like something I would really love – everything I loved about the classroom (loving students) without all of the stuff of which I was growing tired (grading papers).

On the day before I was to leave Xela and my Guatemalan Family with whom I lived while I was there, I was given a Mayan Symbol from the women who worked with me at La Paz. They gave me this Symbol based on what they had learned about/from me during my time with them. They presented me with the “Kej,” the stag. According to the Mayan Tradition, the “Kej have great responsibilities with their people, their community; the responsibility of behaving well, of acting well, of analyzing well everything, of being a good father or a good mother, of being a good teacher and of giving good teachings, of knowing to act with rightness.”

My Facebook profile picture shown above shows me writing the final entry in, “Inside.” No one, except my wife (this morning) has read any portion of this journal. Katie knew I learned something about myself in Guatemala, and stayed up with me until 4 a.m. on the evening I got home to hold me while I cried, listen to me while I talked and comforted me as I faced what I knew then was a new part of my life. Yet, I did not know what that meant. This was in 2010. I now know what those feelings were preparing me for. They were preparing me for today.

Below is an excerpt from that last entry in “Inside.” The entry I was writing in the picture above. The last entry I wrote after three weeks of soul searching, prioritizing and praying.

“A pragmatist is one who sees the reality of a situation. Fine. Is the reality of this place, this world, that it is cold? If so, then I am not a pragmatist. Is the reality that this place is beautiful & peace is possible w/o succumbing to the games and rules that govern everything? This is what I believe. I feel something building inside of me. Something I cannot explain. What is this? What is it in my spirit driving all of this? Is it real? I don’t even know anymore. It seems so unreal, yet @ the same time is the most real thing that I have ever felt in my entire life. Impossible to harness – shouldn’t even try. It wants out. And it is held inside by the games. The rules. Not made by the Spirit. In fact, the spirit does not even speak the same language as the rule-makers. I am beginning to understand the spirit-language. There aren’t words. Evidenced by the past 3 weeks. This is not touchy feely. In fact, this is so real that it hurts like hell.

These beliefs that now have the ability to fly will certainly not be accepted by all of my friends, family or co-workers. & so persecution ensues. Am I ready? I don’t have a choice.

I have to share this love and I know it is real.

How’d I get here? How’d it come to this?

It’s there and that’s that. So, in closing, my life is changed. For good. If that is not alright w/ all in my life I will love them nonetheless. To everyone else – hop on – here we go. Much love and Peace to these good things.”

(August 6th, 2010)

Now, the current situation in which I find myself is the very last thing I was thinking about when I wrote those words. Regardless, when Katie and I were re-reading them this morning, the Kej chord got struck in my soul once again.

The last bit of that entry is amusing for me to read today. It sounds so “Rambo” of me. When, in reality, this is far more difficult than what I had in mind in August of 2010. I reluctantly, but willingly, accept this new role. As I have said before, I am not surprised that this is happening, and that is precisely why I am disappointed.

Thank you all for helping me to find my way in this ambiguous, but beautiful time. I only hope that all of this has caused sincere and honest discussion around the dinner table, by the water cooler or in the pews. All I really ever wanted to do was get people to think, speak those thoughts to others and make friends. Maybe that is the “spirit language” – honest discussion amongst us humans here on Earth. Maybe all of our differing views on subjects like the environment, education, politics, gay marriage, religion and race all exist to make each one of us better. Maybe it’s time to talk to one another. Better yet, maybe it’s time to listen.

Prayer

Many folks are beginning to say that they will pray for me to repent and realize the error in my ways.

I, too, am praying for them to realize that this stance is NOT an attack on them or their church.  It is about trying to make us all a little bit better.  And who knows, I may be wrong in God’s eyes.  I have no idea what God thinks.  I just try to live my life in a way that doesn’t harm anyone.  And I realize all of these other folks feel the same way about their lives.  I respect that.

But my conscience tells me that I am not doing anything wrong.

Between the two camps of prayer, I fully expect that we will find God in the middle.

I Have

I have never once felt angry.

I have not felt surprised.

I have felt confused.

(Not by what to do, but by why I had to do it)

I have felt sad.

(Not for my situation, but for my loved ones’ rattled faith)

I have felt empowered.

I have remebered what it is to pray and ask for strength.

(I think I may had forgotten how to do that)

I have found God in many small moments since Monday, February 4th at 1:30 pm.

I have fallen in love with my wife every second of every day and learned what true reliance is.

I have opened a Bible.

(For the first time in a long time)

I have spoken to every person who I consider Family and been strengthened by them.

I have been overwhelmed by love on social media outlets.

I have forgiven the Archdiocese.

I have come to understand that the Church tries.

(But, like everyone else, they need help too)

I have become more familiar with my new life.

I have slept well.

I have laughed at things that need to be laughed at.

I have accepted things it was time to accept.

I look forward to what I will have to do tomorrow.

Because Of

On Monday, February 4th I was given an ultimatum by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Namely, to take down my post on this site entitled, “Choose Your Battles,” sign a number of documents assuring my silence and keep my job – or, resign.

After much deliberation with my wife, family, trusted clergy, professionals from all walks of life and my own meditative silence, I decided not to take the post down, nor to recant my position that “I unabashedly believe gay people SHOULD be allowed to marry.”

As “Choose Your Battles” goes on to say, “Ethically, morally and legally I believe this.”

And I do.

If I take that post down I would not be able to look at the thousands of former students and families with whom I have worked for twelve years in the eye. I have tried my hardest (even when it would have been easier not to) to instill the values of resilience in the face of pressure, public acts of justice and patient decision making in every student who has been in my classroom, office or not for profits. What would I say to all of them if I were to go against my OWN conscience so that I could keep my job for four months?

I refused to agree to the Archdiocese’s terms BECAUSE OF my faith formation at Catholic schools and relationship with Catholic family members & clergy – not in spite of it.

I believe gay people should be allowed to marry because I believe in the Sermon on the Mount. I try to let the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 through 7, guide my life.

I will not be quiet about what my informed conscience tells me is right and just.

The only painful part of this entire decision for Katie and me is reconciling the difficulty my students at Purcell Marian are going to face with the example we strive to model for the youth. If any of you Cavaliers are reading this, please know that I love you and I am in your corner. I hope that someday you may come to understand why I am not in my office to share a laugh, a cry or a story. You can always contact me through this website with your questions or to keep me posted on how your lives are going. I trust you all know that your livelihood means more to me than my own, and, for that reason, I had to leave. I realize how difficult that may be to understand right now, but in time I trust you, too, may be asked to give up your convictions or accept the consequences. As I always tried to teach you – NEVER compromise who you are for someone else – and NEVER let anyone make you someone THEY want you to be. Be strong and take care of one another.

As anyone will tell you at Purcell Marian, I had ONE zero-tolerance policy when I served as Dean of Student Life – I would never tolerate someone making someone else uncomfortable. Some call it bullying, I prefer to call it “creating uncomfortable situations.” When a young person, or any person, is made to feel uncomfortable by someone’s else’s actions, then they are not being given the opportunity to become the best version of themselves possible. If, and when, this happened at the school, I dealt with it swiftly and harshly.

To take this conversation outside the walls of Purcell Marian – if we do not begin to have some very difficult conversations in the Church and in our communities, then we will very quickly lose many good people who could add so much beauty to our lives. Many people in our society feel uncomfortable because of certain doctrines and dogma. And this is not just about marriage equality – I am talking about all PEOPLE.

I never meant to be a gay rights activist, I always considered myself a Human Activist. For years I advocated for homeless humans, black humans, white humans, Hispanic humans, young humans, old humans, rich humans, challenged humans AND gay humans. The Archdiocese knows that I love human beings. I live my life in defense of human beings. We all could use a little extra love, and preventing someone from being able to share love, to me, is, as I have stated twice before on this website, immoral and unethical.

I thank the Catholic Church for all they taught me, and will continue to teach me. This is not some cheap political ploy – I mean it. Any Catholic with whom I have worked will speak to my sincerity. If it was not for the church I may not be as resilient as I am in my stance on these issues – and I may very well have taken down my post and moved on if not for my Catholic upbringing.

However, I am unable to silence myself or recant my statements BECAUSE OF my Catholic background, not in spite of it. For this, I am truly grateful and peaceful.

On Friday, February 8th, I find myself still on administrative leave with a pending termination by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for my public support of gay marriage and my refusal of their terms.

As I stated a few weeks ago, you gotta “choose your battles.” I did not pick this one, but it picked me, and, after a week of discernment, I have decided that I will gladly accept it.