I hope you'll suffer a little shameless bragging on my part.
I continue to find myself amazed at the life that I've built for myself in the past few years. I have somehow found ways to surround myself with giants of faith and spirituality. ...With "celebrities" of my industry that I have respected and admired from afar for many years.
I have a few stories of such experiences - I'll undoubtedly regale you with these stories at a later time when I can think of nothing else to write about - but tonight I want to concentrate on just one.
One that happened TONIGHT, no less!
A dear friend of mine called last night to inform me that he and the rector of the parish where he serves were going to be attending a lecture and conversation tonight by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson. It was to take place in New York City at the LGBT Community Center in Chelsea. He invited me to join the two of them for dinner and then the lecture. After some last minute schedule shuffling, I agreed to join them.
I've met Gene several times since we first met at General Convention in 2006 (pictured above).
That I had even met him ONCE should be exciting enough for me. I distinctly remember sitting at my apartment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana five years ago and reading about "the gay bishop".
I knew that I had felt called by God to lead the life of an ordained person. But I believed that either God had gotten it wrong, or that I had misunderstood God's call in my life. I couldn't believe that God could call ME - an openly gay man - to lead God's people in the church. I had been taught that such a dream was not possible. So clearly, either I was wrong or God was wrong.
Even though I was not an Episcopalian at the time, I felt strangely liberated by the idea that the Episcopal "corner of the kingdom" was taking a step toward including all of God's people in the life and ministry of the church.
It would be another two years before I would begin to acknowledge that God might be calling me to be a priest in The Episcopal Church - that I might have heard God's call right the first time, but that I had heard it in the wrong church!
So, for all of this time I had been reading about Bishop Robinson, following the developments of his emerging new episcopal ministry, praying for him and giving thanks to God for the difficult trail that he is cutting. Never in this time did I imagine that I would meet him several times, even to the point of him seeming to recognize me and converse with me!
So here's how tonight went:
As we were standing in line to enter the lecture hall, Gene was wandering around and seemed to recognize me. He came over and we shook hands and I reintroduced myself.
After we took our seats, my friend was looking at my copy of Gene's book, when Gene came over and asked if he could borrow it. It seems that he didn't have a copy handy to read during the lecture. Of course I allowed it, so now I can brag that he read my copy of his book!
The lecture, reading, and following discussion were, of course, amazing.
After it all, I went up to him and asked him to sign my book, which he graciously did.
Here's his inscription:
In case you can't read it on my phone photography:
Blessings on you!
See you at Lambeth!
+V. Gene Robinson
So pardon me, please, if I indulge in a little shameless bragging. It was a good day!
It's the Episcopal Church, my love. Nowhere else but The Episcopal Church.