While living in Maryland at the ripe age of 24, I met a very wise man. He was an Irish monk who belonged to The Trinitarian Order. We met in a not-so-conventional way a master meets a student but it was all in the plan I think. God works in mysterious ways. This Irish monk taught me a few things but the few things he taught me will remain with me until the day I die. We had a wonderful friendship. We cared for each other deeply.
I was still feeling my way into the world during that time. I had a lot of forks in my road. I didn’t know which road to take! Do I take the road to finding a career and live amongst the people in the outside world or should I take the road to a monastery where I could offer my life in service and prayer? Do I go home to the country that I love and suffer a life without a future or stay in the USA and be whomever I want to be? It was a very confusing time in my life.
At the time, I was also confused about my sexuality. I didn’t know how to feel good about myself. I had always been taught that homosexuality is a sin and that if I am a homosexual, I will not gain the kingdom of heaven. I had struggled with that since I was a child. I know the feeling of desiring someone, but I also know the feeling of loving someone. And yet, both of those feelings were considered wrong. You are not supposed to desire or love a person of the same sex. I probably chose to enter the monastery so that I didn’t have to face the fact that I desire and love people of the same gender. I didn’t want to be part of the “sinners”. I promised to practice celibacy and was perfectly prepared for it. That all changed when I met Eddy.
Eddy is originally from Enniskillen, Ireland. I met him through one of the Dignity meetings in Baltimore, MD. Dignity is a Catholic support group that works for respect and justice for people of all sexual orientations, genders, and gender identities—especially gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons—in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy, and support. (Mission Statement) I read about the support group from magazines and newspapers. I decided to check it out with the hope that it can help me reconcile the inner conflicts I had with my sexuality and religion.
The event consists of a mass service followed by a social in the church hall for people to engage in conversation, and discussion about life in general. One night, my friend Glen and I decided to attend the meeting in downtown Baltimore. I forget the name of the church. I still smoked back then so I took a smoke break after the mass before joining the social. There was a blond-haired, blue-eyed man who was about my age who came towards me and my friend. He’s handsome and he smiled a lot. He asked me if he could have a light. I lent him my lighter and he started a conversation going. The usual introductions and then joking with each other. Thinking nothing of it, I thought he was cute and very personable, we talked a lot during the social event. His name is Eddy. We met a new friend, I thought.
The next week I wasn’t able to attend the meeting. Glen was able to attend the service. The next morning, my phone rang. It was my friend Glen. He was so excited to tell me that Eddy was there asking for me. Glen told me that he had a feeling Eddy ha an interest in me and told me to attend the next meeting.
To make the long story short, Eddy is an Irish monk. He was there to support the cause and to help gays and lesbians find their way back to the church. He also wants to help keep the Catholic gays and lesbians in the church.
I had talked to Brother Eddy about my conflicts, and my frustration. I told him how unworthy I feel about the love of God because of who I am. I asked him questions like, “Why would God make me a homosexual and then reject me?”
We went through a lot of sessions together at the monastery and long walks on the monastery grounds. We have had lots of hot chocolate drinks during cold winter nights when we’re discussing my issues in life. Those all changed during the life-changing-retreat that he gave me at the monastery chapel. At the age of 24-years old, I was able to accept myself as a homosexual who is loved by God, from here to eternity. I could go on and tell you all about the details but it will take more than one post to explain my journey.
One of the phrases of wisdom I will never forget as given to me by Brother Eddy is the quote above. “People we meet, no matter how brief, become a part of our lives. . . FOREVER.” If you think about how profound that phrase is, it rings very true. Whatever interaction, be it good or bad, with anyone – it remains in our memory. How many times have you told the story of the greatest vacation you ever had? How many times have you retold a joke you heard from someone else that was very funny to you? And you probably haven’t forgotten who told you the joke even today.
I have met many people in my life. They have come and gone. But I will never forget them. They are a part of me. Sonia was an African-American student who I worked with in the nursing home’s dietary department in Maryland who was killed in a car accident one summer. Bill was a person I worked with in Baltimore who was an arrogant young professional who was willing to learn how to be kind and be gentle to other people’ needs. I still keep in touch with him today. Laura was a loud-mouthed New Yorker I worked with in New York who never had a filter when she spoke but is one of the most-caring and loving people I know. These are people in my past whom I have never forgotten. They are a part of me. Some, I have spent more time with than others. But some, it was nothing but a brief encounter. I remember them just the same.
This past weekend, I met someone whom I already know is already a part of my life from this day forward. A man with a bright future who is lost in the world. He can really be whomever he wants to be. He has a blank slate. He hasn’t even started writing it out yet. I wanted to guide him so badly. He is in that fork in the road. The choice that he makes could either make him a very successful and happy individual or a miserable misfit whose future could be disastrous. How do you help someone who is not seeking your help? Do you simply offer it? Cause that’s what I did. I simply told him that if there is ever a moment that he needs to make that one phone call, he can count on me. I want to be the Brother Eddy to him. I want to spend more time with him.
We shall see what the future holds. I do hope that he finds himself wanting to turn his life around and become the great person that he was destined to be. He is a diamond in the rough. If I could only part some wisdom to him to help him understand what he needs to do, I would do it in a heart beat. He has to ask for it. I hope he asks for it. He’s got a beautiful soul. I don’t want to see it go to waste.