Thursday, June 25, 2015

El Cura de Dos Mundos: La autoridad de la Convención General

El Cura de Dos Mundos: La autoridad de la Convención General: William White, Primer Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Hoy empieza la Convención General, la augusta reunión trienal de la ...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Many Parts, One Body: And so it begins!

Many Parts, One Body: And so it begins!: Well actually it already began. Last summer I first heard about the Young Adult Service Corps while talking to my friend and current YASC v...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blog February 12, 2012

I feel deeply saddened by the news of the death of Ms. Whitney Houston. I am going to go out on a limb here because I must.
I’ve read some opinions and the sparse details of her death announcement. We’re left waiting for a coroner’s report for the “real” story. What is the “real story”? One can only speculate and read between the lines of any story of an individual whose talent and hard work leads them to a life of fame. We don’t linger much on what we consider cut and dry stories and that is totally in the eye of the beholder. But what about these stories that leave you questioning… why? Like Whitney’s story? What could have been done to help and support?
I recall early in Ms. Huston’s career that there was a rumor that she had a very good friend. A female friend. Some whispered and rumored she might be gay. I listened. I heard the rumor. It reached my ears, unsolicited. I wondered… could it be that a beautiful and talented young singer could be gay? A famous? talented? black?
Lesbian? singer?
Hot on the heels of that rumor I also heard that Whitney’s mom was not happy about that rumor (or truth) and she was very angry! I heard that Whitney had to give up that friend for her singing career. You know, Whitney’s mom is a talented singer and Whitney’s cousin is Dionne Warwick so that tells me she was surrounded by support and people who were musically and vocally “in power” in her circle of close family and friends while she was growing up. Obviously they recognized her God given talent as a child.  Not like us folk who try out for the “Voice” auditions on that ever-popular television reality show, or who take voice lessons at the local community college. No she was “in”

So, she did go on to have a vocal and acting career and she was loved by many and we lived to see it! I admit I only wanted to see the beautiful parts of her very public life. I never saw one episode of the reality t v show she was in. I closed my heart and my eyes because I was disappointed that she had married a man. It just didn’t seem right but I could not articulate it at the time.  As a culture we are all guilty of watching the demise of a talented young black woman.
This happened in our lifetime!
I personally know many gay men and women who loved her and recognized her talent way before I did! She won me over with her song, I Will Always Love You. It gives me chills when I hear it. It sounds to me like it comes down even from the very heavens. Every word is vocalized to convey it’s true deep meaning and it demonstrates range, agility and discipline. I wish she had had all the room she needed to grow and explore as a human being as she was able to accomplish vocally.

When I heard that she had started dating Bobby Brown I felt sick to my stomach. I thought I heard he was doing drugs, and then it made me think of how often and pervasively I had heard from the women of color lesbian community about women being screamed at or scorned with the words “I WOULD RATHER YOU BE A DRUG ADDICT THAN A LESBIAN!
Oddly enough humanly speaking any one of us could be any of these but sexual orientation is such a personal matter that no mother, father or culture can dictate.
I fully understand Mr. Tony Bennett’s plea to legalize drugs as reported from the pre-Grammy party and news of her death had just barely been announced and there is something to be said about experimenting with drugs thinking you can stop when you want but I don’t think this story is only about drug and alcohol abuse. I think this story is about HOMOPHOBIA.

So often I  have  heard in sacred circles of women of color sharing their stories of homophobia that led to extreme abuse. For example the story of a women in her native land of Mexico who was raped by permission of her parents by a “friend of the family” --a man-- who would take the lesbian out of the girl!
Oh yes! Sad and brutal, yet true. Or the two young girls who loved each other so much but were prohibited by their parents to see each other and who eventually committed suicide so that they would not have to separate!
While I was living in Chile in a closeted relationship I once lied to my mother so she would be happy and think that I wasn’t gay. I told her I was in a relationship with a man. I later took back my words.

For our beloved sister Whitney Elizabeth Houston the damage has been done. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. I can only hope that the truth be revealed so that healing and forgiveness can come and we can do away with homophobia in our culture, in our hearts, in our minds and in our fragile world once and for all!  Ya Basta!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

gardening and weeding

I like to work in the garden but I don't like to take out the weeds. I don't know anyone who does. while I am working in the garden my mind wants my body to go faster. I don't want to be ruled by my crazy mind. Besides, what's the hurry? i get done what i get done. there is always yardwork and housework to do. ALWAYS.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Terry Garay's commentary on General Convention2009

If you’ve ever worked behind the scenes at a live event, particularly a major one that’s bringing together thousands of people, many from out-of-town, then you know how frenetic the activity leading up to it can be. Right now, here in Southern California, we have crews and production people putting the final touches on just such an event.

No, I’m not talking about tomorrow’s Michael Jackson Memorial.

I’m here to call your attention to The Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention, which will be taking place this Wednesday, July 8th, through Friday, July 17th, in Anaheim.

For you non-religious types out there: The Episcopal Church General Convention is easily comparable in scope to the Democratic and Republican political conventions. It’s where policy is set for the entire church. It’s huge!

For LGBT people that happen to be members of the Church, this year’s convention also has major implications.

Now, before I go on, let me clarify an important point: I happen to be one of those non religious types. According to a recently published report, I am probably in the minority among my LGBT brothers and sisters.

There’s this perception that gays and lesbians are godless, hedonistic Christian bashers. Homophobic fiction. The Barna Group has found that a significant majority of gays and lesbians, six in ten to be exact, say that faith is important in their lives. The difference between gays of faith and straights of faith, though, is in how those beliefs are communicated. It seems that straights tend to be more vocal. And gays and lesbians are more private.

One group that, thankfully, isn’t in the closet with their views is called Integrity. It’s an organization for LGBT Episcopalians.

They believe that the Church is on the tipping point, to quote a member, “of becoming unequivocally welcoming and affirming of LGBT people.” And, no doubt, the stakes are high at this year’s general convention:

Church leaders will be considering whether to sanction a religious rite for same sex unions and whether to ease restrictions on the ordinations of gay and lesbian bishops.

Divisions are nothing new to the Episcopal Church. In 2003, there was a huge split between church liberals and conservatives when the Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, was consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire.

I wish Integrity the best of luck with their efforts. And if you happen to go to the convention, make time to stop by their booth and give them your support.

Now, why should such internal church matters be of interest me? Well, I’m a big believer in the butterfly effect – you know, the idea that if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Indian Ocean, a breeze blows in the Pacific – because everything’s connected.

Battles for LGBT rights are waged every day throughout the world. To me, it’s a score for our side when any of them are won.

It was to our collective benefit when organizers successfully launched the first Beijing Queer Film Festival in China in June

We all benefit when a gay minister is inducted in Scotland.

Or the high court in India strikes down a ban on gay sex and rules it isn’t crime

Or, in Lithuania, when the President vetoes an anti-gay bill

So members of Integrity, you may not number me among your ranks when you go to the Episcopal Church General Convention this week, but of this I can assure you:

I’m going to be there in spirit, rallying you on to victory! Because if you win, we all win!

I’m Terry Garay and for what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Rev. Claudia Windal of Minneapolis believes everyone, regardless of ability to pay, deserves a dignified burial. So the Episcopal priest became a

Minnesota priest runs nonprofit funeral service that often serves Native Americans
By Pat McCaughan, June 22, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Claudia Windal of Minneapolis believes everyone, regardless of ability to pay, deserves a dignified burial. So the Episcopal priest became a mortician to help make it happen.

Since she opened the nonprofit Oyate Tawicohan Funeral Services about two years ago, Windal estimates that she has provided low-cost burials to about 223 people; about 90 percent were Native American. But the no-frills, shoestring-budget burials are available to anyone who can't afford standard funeral fees.

Now she hopes her efforts will catch on elsewhere. "Oyate Tawicohan means 'the way of the people' in Lakota," said Windal, 59, who is part Lakota. "I'm so excited to have the ability to bring some dignity and respect to poor people to give them some choices in funeral care. What we do, we do in a good way."

For Windal "death care" is as much about "doing death in a good way" for the living as for those she buries.

Doing 'death in a good way'
Windal never had a desire "to do funeral work" but in 2000, a Lakota elder from nearby Red Lake telephoned, asking for help "to return her cousin to a final resting place here on the reservation. The funeral home wanted $2,000 to transport the body and she couldn't pay it," Windal recalled.

The two women rented a van, drove to Chicago and brought the body back to Minnesota themselves. "On the way home, she told me that I 'must do this for our people'," Windal recalled. After that, the phone calls kept coming.

She estimated her basic, no-frills funeral fee at about $2,500, often reduced to county allotments of $1,900-$2,200 provided for the indigent or those on public assistance. Comparable services in a for-profit funeral home typically range from at least $6,000.

She helps make up the difference using "cremation caskets" and has made use of some donated graves but acknowledges that keeping costs low is increasingly a struggle. Her funeral home has space for a small coffin display and an embalming room. Visitations are held at nearby St. James on the Parkway Episcopal Church, where she serves as a priest in residence.

"Cremation caskets" are wood with a pine or oak veneer "but not cardboard at least. It is very nice looking," Windal said. "It's called a cremation casket simply because the sidebars, the handles don't move, don't swing so they're stationary because they don't expect to carry it very far."

She added that cremation, often touted as a low-cost burial alternative, isn't considered an option. "Most of our native people refuse to be cremated. That's tradition."

Tradition figures prominently elsewhere. She invites family participation in body preparation, includes ceremonial drums and smoldering sage at funeral services, and helps next-of-kin fill graves in with dirt.

"Most funeral homes don't let you get too near the body once someone's died and is in the funeral director's care," Windal said. "But there is a real beauty in being able to as closely as possible approximate the way families have been involved with death care in our Native American communities."

In once instance, when several male family members wanted "to do something useful for their loved one" she had them pick up the casket from the warehouse while she and the women ritually bathed and dressed the body.

"They got back just as we finished dressing the deceased," Windal recalled. "Two of the men and I picked the body up and put her in the casket. The women did her makeup and fixed her hair. It was a wonderful, wonderful gift."

There was also the woman whose five-month-old infant suffocated. "In our native community we have a lot of infant deaths and I really encourage the parents, the mothers especially, to be involved in the care of their deceased child," Windal said. "I'll invite whoever wants to come in and do the bathing after the baby's been embalmed."

After bathing him, "we wrapped him in a blanket and she just sat there and held him and talked to him. It's gut-wrenching to watch but it was apparent that it was a very helpful thing that needed to be done."

When Windal's phone rings, it is often "a call to multiple ministries." Sometimes, the request is to give last rites to the dying, or to help a family navigate a mountain of forms, to take charge of a body, or plan a funeral service.

Multiple ministries are nothing new for the former nun and registered nurse. A few months after graduating from a Chicago high school, she entered the novitiate of the Roman Catholic order of Dubuque Franciscan Sisters. She trained to become a registered nurse.

When she graduated from St. Ambrose University in Iowa in 1975 "the Episcopal Church (TEC) was talking very seriously about ordaining women." She left the order after seven years, joined the Episcopal Church and in 1981 earned a master of divinity degree from Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. After she was ordained to the priesthood she served in congregations in the Diocese of Minnesota and also ministered to people living with HIV/AIDS.

She has a doctorate of ministry and in November 2008 professed perpetual vows in the Ecumenical Order of Servant Franciscans. Her business is also known as the Franciscan Funeral Services because "helping the poor is very Franciscan." She enrolled in a one-year licensing program for morticians at the University of Minnesota after "it became obvious that funeral directors wouldn't talk to anyone but other funeral directors," she said.

The Rev. Theo Park, rector of St. James, calls Windal "a saint. She saw a need and responded. She took action into an arena that a lot of folks wouldn't even have seen as calling for action."

It keeps her "very busy," Park added. "That's one of the reasons we try to support her as much as we can. We're a small church and we can't offer a whole lot of financial assistance but we can offer hospitality as a way of participating."

Maureen Davidson said Windal stepped in "from start to finish" when Davidson's 58-year-old brother died suddenly with few funds in early January. "We hadn't had much time to think about anything. He was diagnosed with cancer on Monday and he died on Saturday. There hadn't even been time for hospice to get involved," recalled Davidson, director of senior services at the West 7th Community Center in St. Paul.

"When you're in that situation, you need a compassionate person, a good listener. Claudia was phenomenal. She has such a passion for what she does and such a belief in it. She did a beautiful job of putting together a funeral at a very low cost, that was respectful and dignified, and she did the service for my brother."
-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Provinces VII and VIII and the House of Bishops. She is based in Los Angeles.