FATHER MYCHAL, CHIEF JOSEPH AND A "TOUGH GUY"

Getting to a blank page can be like walking through a wall of granite. If I remind myself that all I want to do is write, allow whatever wants out to come out, the page, at times, can be a cozy and comfortable place.

There are several things on my mind as 2007 draws to a close.

— The similarity I experience between the writings of Richard Wright and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Both write with a simple direct clarity. The simplicity is deceiving though. A couple of strides into one of their pieces and you are too busy experiencing the story to think about the writing. This, of course, is why they are both great writers.

— I have been thinking about Father Mychal Judge. A Franciscan Monk and chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, Father Mychal was the first death officially recorded on 9/11. He was killed when a piece of falling debris from one of the 110-story towers struck him on the head. He had removed his helmet to offer last rites to a firefighter who had been mortally wounded by a falling body. Father Mychal was gay and he was a recovering alcoholic. He had celebrated 23 years of sobriety the day before he died.

There is a beautifully written essay on Father Mychal to be found in the White Crane Journal, a publication designed to explore gay men’s spirituality. I’ll place the link below.

I’d heard of Father Mychal in the rooms of a 12-step program I belong too. A couple of years ago I watched a documentary on him called, “The Saint of 9/11.” He was an extraordinary man. And when I say man, I mean, man. Far too many still think that if a man is gay his manhood is somehow abbreviated. Not so. Not even close. As a boy I was a ballet dancer and for awhile danced with the Joffrey Ballet. I knew many men who were gay. I made an interesting discovery. They are no different than anyone else. We are all equal despite ourselves, whether we like it or not.

Father Mychal’s prayer has been on my mind as well: His prayer goes like this.

“Lord, take me where you want me to go. Let me meet the people you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say. And keep me out of your way.”

http://www.whitecranejournal.com/wc_Father_Mychal_Judge.htm

— I have been mulling over a constellation of things that revolve around Chief Joseph’s famous quote, “I will fight no more forever”, and a year in which I’ve absorbed my fair share of betrayals, cruelty and nastiness.

A woman I was involved with for awhile playfully called me a “tough guy” once. At first, I disagreed. I associated being a “tough guy” with being a bully, and I’ve never been a bully. But what she meant was, if you’ll forgive the rather crass expression, I don’t take shit from people. And I don’t.

I struggle with absorbing a simple but, for me, difficult-to-digest truth. Not responding when someone takes a run at you does not mean you are letting them get away with it, although it sure as hell can feel that way. This is something I need to work on – and will.

I need to move into my day ,so will close this piece (for now). Before I do, there is something else I have been thinking about as this year comes to a close. I want to bring more love and kindness into the world, into my work, into my writing, into my life. This requires a steadfast commitment to humility on my part, which is not always easy, but that’s the way it is.

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One thought on “FATHER MYCHAL, CHIEF JOSEPH AND A "TOUGH GUY"

  1. Most of us first heard of Father Mychal Judge, the “saint of 9/11”, from that iconic photo of his body being carried from Ground Zero. Yet even prior to his heroic death on 9/11, Father Mychal was widely seen by many New Yorkers as a living saint for his deep spirituality and his extraordinary work not only with firefighters — but also with the homeless, recovering alcoholics, people with AIDS, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and others rejected by society. Father Mychal was also openly gay, though celibate. He blessed and supported committed gay relationships asking, “Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love ?” This often annoyed the church hierarchy. But like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, Mychal reported directly to a Higher Authority, as evidenced by several miraculous healings through him.For further information on Father Mychal, I invite you to visit:http://SaintMychalJudge.blogspot.comGod bless, and merry Christmas!

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