I need you like a fence needs posts

by gaytaylor

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A recent weekend I spent with the Catholics. Or the “Quakliks,” as a fellow retreatant quipped, given that one of the co-leaders of the retreat was raised Quaker, the others Catholic, including a beloved priest of many years service. There’s a Catholic retreat center not far from Upland, and it has a long ecumenical tradition of welcoming all comers, all seekers, all searchers after truth. It’s become a home away from home for me, or better, a church away from church.

It was a men’s retreat on mindfulness. I was mindful that at minimum, two of the participants are gay. This helps me feel more safe when I am in a religious setting. Knowing I am not alone.

There’s a line in Annie Proulx’s short story “The Mud Below” (from her 1999 collection, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, same book in which Brokeback Mountain appears). The line: “…you can’t have a fence with only one post.”

I hear in this what I experienced at the retreat: there is in within me a need for community, a need for feeling safe and accepted, a need for being understood. A need for others, for another. If I am to build something useful of my life, I must do it in collaboration with others. I need the Catholics, too, and the Quaklics and the agnostics and the atheists, Buddhists, Muslims and more. I need to find ways to be in relation with my world. I can start with ways and places in which I feel safe and move from there.

When are you most aware of your need for community?

For action (or penance): Think of one small step you can take today to build community. Do it.

Photo courtesy, Mike Hiatt (mfhiatt at flickr.com)

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