Some of My Best Friends Are…

Preamble

What follows is an essay that has been stirring within me for some time. I have discussed a few of the thoughts expressed below with friends, but I have never had the courage – or, perhaps, the humility – to commit them to writing. This reflection deals with aspects of human sexuality, a topic that somehow remains perplexing for me even after sixty-three years of life and nearly forty years of marriage.

I wish to make it clear from the start that I do not write as a teacher of Catholic morality. Further, I make no claim to be a theologian, philosopher, or anthropologist. What follows are simply the ruminations of a man with faith, who has stumbled more times than he cares to admit in the sexual arena, and who also happens to be a husband, father, and grandfather within a beautiful, complex family.

Why tackle this topic now? I could rightly claim that I am motivated by prayer since the matter arises often in quiet moments with God; however, the deeper truth is that I write this especially for my youngest child, Matthew, who shall always be welcome in my heart and at my table.

By the way, two related stories are quite deliberately interwoven below. I hope the narrative won’t be too difficult to follow.

—– —– —–

When our youngest child, Matthew (Matt), was a toddler, he had a stuffed Pinocchio toy that he really loved. At bedtime, I would sit on the edge of his bed, assume my silliest Pinocchio voice, and bring the puppet/boy to life. It was a ritual we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Just before turning out the light, Pinocchio would always mischievously say:

“Good night.

Sleep tight.

Don’t forget to write.

Be careful, I might bite.”

Then, after a pretend chomp on Matt’s belly…

“You weren’t careful.” (Delighted laughter!)

—–

It happened nonchalantly. My wife Marianne and I were watching a movie on the loveseat in our den when she suddenly pivoted, lifted her legs, and draped them over my lap. All the while, her eyes never left the screen.

It was not an overtly sexual act; still, it was quite intimate. There was no hesitation, no concern that I might not want her legs restricting my movement, no worry that her feet might smell after a long day at work.

I glanced down and instinctively began massaging her calves, but my mind was racing elsewhere. I was caught up in marveling at how far we had come, at how fruitful our difficult journey ultimately had proven to be.

—–

Matt was a child of firsts: the first to keep us waiting, a full two weeks beyond his predicted delivery date; the first who, thanks to meconium aspiration syndrome, remained in the hospital for several days after birth before he could safely come home; the first whose skin assumed an orange tint due to his seemingly insatiable appetite for carrots and sweet potatoes.

Other firsts would follow years later: the first to try smoking; the first to dye his hair; the first to get a tattoo.

Being Matt’s Dad has not always been an easy proposition. He is the most temperamental of our three children and the one who has always seemed most willing to push boundaries. When he reads this essay, as I know he will, I suspect he may recall some specific examples. (Right, son?)

Matt is a talented musician and artist. He is highly creative, strong-willed, tender-hearted, and very passionate about causes and people he believes in. He is a devoted son, brother, and friend, and he has the gift of genuineness that can be both charming and a bit in-your-face.

On parent-teacher day, I recall his kindergarten teacher raving about his people skills and his tendency to coordinate social activities among his classmates. We were not surprised.

Growing up, Matt had a sincere faith in God. He was an altar boy in our parish, attended youth retreats, and enthusiastically entered into daily family prayers. In fact, one of the sweetest memories Marianne and I have of Matt’s childhood is when he would summon his older sister and brother to gather for prayer by calling out: “Guys, it’s time for we’re prayers.”

—–

Marianne is an incest survivor. Her rapist was a trusted uncle, who began molesting her when she was only ten years old. His violations continued until Marianne was sixteen, when she rose up in her own defense and finally ended the horrific abuse. We didn’t know each other at the time, but I am so very proud of her courage.

Of course, I have Marianne’s permission to mention her ordeal here. Otherwise, I would never have brought it up. I will provide no further details except to say that such a sustained trauma cannot help but leave lasting scars. In the early years of our marriage, even though our love was genuine, building trust was the essential work of our intimate life. And it was precisely work, requiring a great deal of patience and perseverance from both of us.

Marianne was by no means the only wounded member of our team. I have written previously of the dysfunction characteristic of my first family and of the downward spiral ultimately leading to my parents’ divorce. I will not rehash specifics of my father’s abuse that caused me to doubt my worth and personhood. I will, however, offer one story that I have never told here before because I believe it exemplifies the awful confusion of my teenage years.

As my parents’ relationship deteriorated, they reached a point where they could barely tolerate being in one another’s presence. Almost anything could serve as a catalyst for their heated arguments.

One day, they were particularly incensed with one another and were screaming back and forth between different rooms in the house. I always assumed the peacemaker role, so I went to the kitchen to attempt to calm my mother down. Unfortunately, there was no consoling her. She broke away from me, walked to the doorway, and deliberately began banging her face into the door frame. Before I could pull her away, she had already violently impacted the surface multiple times. Then, she reached for the phone to call the police to report (falsely) that my father had struck her.

The shame and embarrassment of that afternoon are chiseled into my memory. I was seated on the front porch, in full view of the neighbors, with the flashing lights of  the police car drawing attention to the scene, as the two responding officers questioned me about the incident.

“He’s not a good husband or father,” I recall myself saying, “but he didn’t do this.”

My mother was a genuinely dear woman with unyielding faith and a deep love for her family. Under supreme stress, however, she broke that day, and I was left to pick up the pieces.

I believe I was 17 at the time.

—–

When Marianne and I wed, we embraced a shared and hopeful future; but, if we were to grow together, we would also need to confront our emotionally shattered pasts.

—–

The Catholic Church teaches that a married couple’s sexual expression should always manifest both procreative and unitive dimensions. This is a beautiful, holy ideal; and, many Catholic couples strive heroically to live out this commitment, particularly through the practice of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Many others, however, for complex reasons known only to God, the couples themselves and, perhaps, their confessor(s) and/or spiritual director(s), come up short of full compliance. Marianne and I fall into this latter camp.

While I believe in the possibility of a Divine plan for human sexuality and really do cherish the ideal the Church sets before us, I also recognize it as exactly that, an ideal. Though I am not proud of our struggles, especially in the procreative dimension, neither do I allow them to shame me/us disproportionately. They are a part of our intricate reality, and our forgiving God has met us most generously along that path.

—–

One day, some years ago, Matt asked if he and I could have dinner together that evening. I queried if there was something particular on his mind, and he replied that he had something to share with me that might make me uncomfortable but that could prove a breakthrough for him. I booked a reservation at a nearby restaurant, waited, and wondered.

I suspect he wanted to talk with me first (and alone) because, for whatever reason, he saw me as a larger hurdle than his mother. Over dinner that evening, in an act of liberating courage, my youngest son told me that he is gay.

—–

Based upon Marianne’s and my lived experience of ministry to one another, I would broaden the Church’s understanding of the fruit of marital sexual expression to include a third dimension, co-creative, and I would easily give it equal weight. Within this framework, such things as honesty, transparency, prioritizing the spouse’s needs above one’s own, sharing the daily burdens of temporal life (jobs, chores, etc.), active listening, empathy, compassion, patience, forgiveness, shared meals and tears, prayer, laughter, and exhausted hugs are all, in my opinion, co-creative expressions of married life and love.

I once heard a female comedian say something like: “The sexiest thing a man can do at the end of the day is wash the dishes.” I think that’s often true.

Since we committed our lives to one another, Marianne and I have been all about co-creating with God, helping each other become the person God created us to be. I am unquestionably a better man due to this amazing woman’s enduring love and support. My bride has been a channel of God’s grace in my life, and I pray (and believe) that I have been the same for her.

Indeed, it is “not good that the man [or woman] should be alone.” (Gen 2:18)

—–

During his teen years, as his sexual identity apparently came into clearer focus, Matt became vulnerable to the kinds of wounds only the Church and/or its members can inflict. As a result, he began to rebel against Catholicism, which I mistakenly interpreted as a faith crisis. I have since come to understand that he was actually struggling to reconcile his blossoming sexual awareness with his heretofore faith community, and it wasn’t going particularly well.

—–

Just a few days after “the  dinner,” Marianne and I departed on a previously booked cruise vacation. Early on, we learned that a priest was onboard and that he would be ministering to passengers throughout the trip. I requested a one-on-one appointment with him to talk through issues related to what I’d recently learned from my son. I was seeking an objective, compassionate ear, and, initially, I was warmly received; however, as soon as I mentioned Matt’s news, the priest’s entire demeanor changed. In an oddly hostile way, he began angrily railing against “sodomites.” I tried to listen politely, but it was all too much. He was demeaning my son, albeit circuitously. I left that ugly meeting without confrontation (thank God!) but with a much clearer understanding of what Matt was facing, at least in some quarters of the Church.

—–

I once knew an elderly woman whose middle-aged gay son lived with her. In many ways, her unconditional love for her son was a model of acceptance. Her devotion to him was sincere, but she always secretly held on to an unrealistic hope. On more than one occasion, she discreetly whispered to me: “I hope he finds a nice girl and settles down.” This fantasy, I believe, was her coping mechanism.

Many parents, I suppose, nurture an idealized vision of how their children’s lives will unfold – good health, a joyful childhood and adolescence, a great college experience, a satisfying career, solid friendships, a loving marriage, adorable children, a nice home, ample money reserved for those anticipated “rainy days,” sufficient retirement savings, and, ultimately, a burial plot in a particularly lovely part of the cemetery. Marianne and I were guilty of that too; and, Matt’s news, initially at least, seemed to throw those prefabricated plans – our plans – into disarray.

By God’s grace, we have come to recognize that our calling is to embrace the reality of what we have learned about our son. Matt’s gayness is not temporary. It is not a phase he will outgrow. It cannot be prayed or reprogrammed away. While he could, theoretically, “find a nice girl and settle down,” we know that doing so would be fraught with complications that could undermine even the strongest of relationships.

Rather than abandoning parental dreams for our son’s life, we find ourselves rethinking them in light of this new – or, newly understood – reality. Matt, our former “orange baby,” is gay!

Since faith and active participation in the Church are central elements in our lives, our rethinking must also consider how to reconcile our love and support for our son with our experience of God.

—–

When Marianne spontaneously draped her legs across mine, I saw in that simple act a hard-won, uncomplicated trust, an affirmation of safety, a sign of the maturity and beauty of our love.

Our path had certainly not been “ideal,” but it had been authentic.

—–

According to the Catholic Church, the only morally acceptable option for homosexuals is to live a life of chastity and celibacy. This may be a holy and high ideal, but is it realistic? And, does the Church honestly support it?

Before continuing, I will reiterate that I write only as a Catholic Dad, who knows and loves his gay son, and not as a teacher of morality. Some readers may be disappointed by my ideas, but they faithfully reflect my conscience.

—–

Recently, I spent some time reviewing web-based information about the formation of Catholic priests for a life of chastity and celibacy. In the pieces I read, the difficulty of this calling and the special grace required to fulfill it are repeatedly emphasized. I also discovered that seminary educators and formators are specially tasked with cultivating in their students a deep sense of the “precious gift” of celibacy, especially insofar as it prepares one for priestly ministry.

The website of The Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit included this statement on the topic:

”… Depending upon when a man enters the seminary, his formation can last from between six to eight years. The seminary has a well-developed and comprehensive curriculum for chaste celibacy. This curriculum outlines and examines key formation components: study of the Church’s documents; Sacred Scripture foundation; the history of celibate priesthood; psychosexual development; counseling others; prayer and a personal relationship with the Lord; celibacy and the evangelical counsels; intimacy in human friendships; discerning a call to celibacy; moral theology; and strategies for living celibacy and purity.”

Embedded in the excerpt above is a link to the “curriculum for chaste celibacy,” which helped me to understand more fully that Seminary’s comprehensive approach.

While I think it is entirely appropriate to form seminarians so carefully and comprehensively – over a six to eight year period – for a life of celibacy, I am left with some disturbing questions. Where is the corresponding formation for single and homosexual lay people? Are chastity and celibacy less demanding for them? Or, is their vocation simply valued less within the Church?

The truth is, many LGBTQ people, including Matt, already feel unwelcomed by, or alienated from, the Church. And, when people like Fr. James Martin, S.J., attempt to build bridges of healing with the LGBTQ community, they are often met with strong resistance, including from some brother priests.

Even if formation in chastity and celibacy were to be made widely available in parishes, which is where most Catholics live out their faith, significant reparative work would likely need to precede the offerings in order to encourage participation. Further, and perhaps more importantly, I question whether a contemporary Catholic audience in Matt’s age group values or even understands celibacy.

—–

Knowing Matt as we do, Marianne and I seriously doubt that he will choose to live his life without a romantic partner. He is currently in a relationship, in fact, and it certainly seems to be blessing him, including helping him to trust and to heal from the wounds of his past.

I can easily imagine someone with the mindset of the priest on the cruise becoming apoplectic at the suggestion that a committed gay relationship could be a blessing; yet, can we really deny that possibility?

It is a cliché, of course, but some of our best friends are gay. As I write, I am thinking of a particular couple, Richard and Frank, who have been together for many years and are still very much in love. Their relationship richly demonstrates commitment. It also offers ample evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

Can this be ignored?

Perhaps I’m grasping at straws, but I find hope in the groundbreaking work of the Council fathers at Vatican II, who drafted and approved the Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio

That decree was written against the backdrop of the long-held Catholic view that there is no salvation outside of the Church. The Council fathers, because they could not deny the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in separated Christian denominations, acknowledged a salvific, albeit imperfect, communion between those bodies and the Church. In so doing, they both confirmed the long-held teaching and recognized salvific degrees of incorporation/communion within the Church.

I wonder if the Church might one day apply a similar rationale with regard to human sexuality, i.e., uphold the ideal of marriage between one man and one woman wherein every sexual expression is both procreative and unitive, but also recognize degrees of incorporation within that ideal for those of us – the majority, I suspect – who fall short of fully realizing that ideal.

Yes, I wonder.

—–

Along the continuum of views regarding homosexuality and the Church, I know good people on both extremes: some who would read what I have have written (above) and conclude, without hesitation, that I am advocating grave sin; and others who would simply say that God made Matt gay, and he should pursue his truest self.

Marianne and I are decidedly closer to the latter view than the former, but we are still somewhere in between. There is, however, one thing we can say with certainty. Matt is our beloved son, in whom we are well pleased.

And, we’ve really no doubt that God feels likewise.

23 thoughts on “Some of My Best Friends Are…

  1. Karen Motylewski

    Oh, Steve. What wonderful people and parents you are to love your son for who he is, not for who theology, a church, or a historically promulgated (and, I think, narrowly constructed) ideal privilege as the human he should be. This is such a complicated phenomenon.
    By some kind of grace, it isn’t a moral one for me, as long as we are talking about two people on an equal plane of power, automomy, and capacity for choice.

    I can uderstand why struggle enters for you and Marianne, and wish you the strength and grace to eventually welcome this difference as much as you do others. You have pressed me to think hard about my own many biases. You have given the gift of honesty and vulnerability to all of us who value you and these musings. This one has sharper thorns than most.

    I am grateful to you. I am awed by the effort this must have taken, and the beauty of the result. Love to you, your wife, and your son. You are all models for living and behaving with integrity. You give me a goal for accepting process and ambiguity, way beyond sexuality, which is after all only one piece of the human dilemma. A joyful Thanksgiving and Christmas, however you are able and choose to spend them.

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Karen, as always, I am so very grateful for your response and for your characteristically kind words. All I can really say is thank you, especially for your friendship, which I cherish. Blessings to you and Tom over the holidays and throughout the New Year. I hope our paths will cross again someday soon. – Steve

      Reply
  2. Korins, Jane A.

    Dear Steve,

    I was so excited to see another Musings Amid the Thorns piece in my email. I am sitting here wondering how to express my deep admiration and gratefulness for taking the time to put this much needed piece into words and getting it out there where so many need to hear your thought.

    First, of all how brave!! I guess that one of the appropriate adjectives for describing you, is authentic along with courageous. And God bless your dear Maryanne for allowing her wounds to be balm for the wounds of others. My entire career has been spent connecting with others during some of the most challenging times in their lives. I realize now that offering comfort and support stems from the suffering and wounds that have been inflicted on me during my journey. When one is dying and suffering from severe illness the one thing that I always notice is that the masks we wear are removed quite quickly. As they expose themselves in their struggles, it has enabled me to remove some of my masks. Perhaps, this is the reason I realized how authentic you are. I just want you to know how incredible it is to evolve into your essence. I admire you greatly.

    It is my hope that through your story others might come to realize that homosexuality is a gift that you were born with. In other words God created many that way.

    I remember a seminarian from St. John’s Seminary who came to intern here during his field placement studies to learn about Clinical Chaplaincy. I was so impressed because in my opinion few are given the charism of clinical chaplaincy. However, I knew that this young man possessed the gift. I loved supervising him and spent many hours enjoying discussions about God and his desire to be a Catholic Priest. He was in his 5th year. One can only imagine my disappointment and surprise when he called me to tell me that he had left the seminary. He then told me that he was gay and that is the reason he left. I asked him if it was a celibacy issue. He immediately told me know. He said that he had to sign a form asking him about his sexuality and if he was gay he would not be able to leave. He told me that he planned on remaining celibate throughout his life. My answer shocked him when I told him that I hoped that he changed his mind and my prayer would be that he would find a partner to love. Unfortunately, it was apparently clear that this beautiful gay man thought that something was wrong with him and he needed to spend the rest of his life not expressing his beautiful gift of sexuality. I have kept him in my prayers and as I write this I can picture this gifted young man with sadness in my heart.

    One of the most memorable and honorable moments of my life, was when I officiated at a gay wedding last year. I have never been more proud of being able to be God’s representative of Love and Authority at the most joyous occasions I have ever witnessed.

    Must run Steve because the beeper is summoning me now.

    BRAVO! Janie

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Dear Janie:

      I can’t tell you how delighted I was to see your comment. I am actually in the midst of writing another essay, which I plan to title “Weeds and Wheat.” In it, I’ll be referencing one of the parish missions that you, Nina, and I conducted all those years ago; so, you’ve been on my mind in that regard. And, as I hope you know, you are always in my heart.

      This essay was not an easy one to write chiefly because of the tension that exists in the Church regarding homosexuality. What gave me the strength was the desire I had to write a love letter to my youngest son, who is a really wonderful young man.

      As always, your experience of ministry to those facing serious, sometimes (quite literally) terminal, struggles leaves me in awe. Thank you for so genuinely bringing the love and the mercy of God to those vulnerable – unmasked – souls. What a gift you are, Janie! Truly!

      BTW, one of my high school classmates, Dina Russo, also read the essay and saw your comment. She then told me (via Facebook) that you have mentored her in her volunteer work. I’m delighted to learn that you know each other. Dina’s faith is a wonderful thing to behold. I’m sure your friendship has been a mutual blessing.

      When the COVID-19 risk passes, it would be wonderful for you, Nina, and I to get together for a spirituality check-up. In the meantime, let’s pray for one another.

      With much love,

      Steve

      Reply
  3. Julie Arnott

    Steve, what a lovely, moving, and courageous essay. Thank you for sharing it. 20 or so years ago, when my cousin revealed that he is gay, his aunt, a nun, remarked, “the Lord made him that way”. I was completely surprised by her remark, and so impressed that she recognized that. I echo Karen’s comment about what wonderful people and parents you and Marianne are, for a variety of reasons! I am lucky to know you and to be your friend.

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Julie:

      What a blessing to hear from you here! I am very impressed with – but, not surprised by – your cousin’s aunt’s response. In my experience, religious women (i.e., nuns/sisters) tend to be on the cutting edge of understanding and applying God’s mercy. Good for her!

      I too am most grateful for our friendship, which I believe dates back to 1993, when I started at NEDCC. How quickly those years have passed!

      Thank you so much for letting me know that the essay moved you! That means a great deal to me.

      Blessings for the holiday season and for the New Year!

      Steve

      Reply
  4. kms01906

    Thanks so much for another uplift of my spirit. It is always good to hear from you. Faith is a journey and God is the only one who can see mine from beginning to end. The church hierarchy is made up of human beings, who are also on a journey. I continue to pray for them, but I can no longer buy everything. whoever asked me to take notes at parish and finance councils made a big mistake. They say once you see the sausage being made you will no longer be able to eat it! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Steve and Marianne!

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Kathy:

      It is always a joy to hear from you. I do understand your perspective. So much has transpired in the Church since 2002. It’s enough to make one’s head spin. Continual prayer is, I believe, a wise path. So, you have chosen well.

      I hope you have a glorious holiday season and that the New Year will bring countless blessings your way.

      Stay safe and well,

      Steve

      Reply
  5. Joanne Hastings

    Steve,
    Thank you for your candid and honest faithful words. Fifteen years ago, a friend revealed to me that he too was Gay. He was a faithful Catholic, son, brother and friend. My thoughts never changed after he told me but my heart struggled for him as he struggled while coming out. He became anxious, anorexic and distressed. He finally resolved his inner struggle. Soon after my niece came out as well. We were so close and she too was struggling until she finally settled it in her mind. I think it unwise to legalistically read scripture word for word but I found myself doing it and wrestling with my thoughts. I felt confused because both these people were beautiful humans from great families who were nurtured. There wasn’t a “person” to blame for them “falling into sin” …. I never did resolve my confusion but I resolved to continue to love them as I always had. I thought that is what Jesus would have wanted me to do. I couldn’t judge them because I was not without sin… I chose to love because love transcends all of our pain and gives us dignity, hope and a sense of belonging. Isn’t that what we all really desire? To be loved unconditionally without limits, Agape love? The older i get, the more i believe there is very little black and white in life, it is mostly shades of gray.
    I wish you, Marianne and your beautiful family a blessed Thanksgiving and a Holy Advent season.

    Thank you my friend,
    Joanne Hastings

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Joanne:

      Thank you for your honesty and humility. In my opinion, by choosing to continue to love your friend and your niece as you always had previously, you did resolve your confusion. You chose the path of Jesus, which is a path of mercy and acceptance. Bravo!

      I hope that all is well, dear friend! Blessings for the holidays and the New Year!

      With much love,

      Steve

      Reply
  6. Edilma Reyes Hosein

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you. I am humbled to be among the people that received the link to this wonderful piece. The blessings of God in my life are many, your writing today, is one of them. In each word I read, I felt God reaching through, telling me to continue to love, regardless of my imperfections and the perfect imperfections of my loved ones. Thank you for sharing.

    I pray for you and your family to have a wonderful holiday!

    Stay well, healthy, and safe.

    Edilma

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Edilma, thank you so much for your beautiful comment and your good wishes. It is a blessing from God to have you as a colleague and (more importantly) a friend. Warmest regards, – Steve

      Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Thank you, Bob! It’s wonderful to hear from you. Maybe 2021 will be the year when we finally break bread together and get caught up. Let’s hope and pray for an end to COVID-19 so that can happen. Blessings always, – Steve

      Reply
  7. kms01906

    Steve, i sent you something i saved that the Cardinal wrote in 2005. I saved it because i liked the way he expressed his thoughts. hope your email address is still the same

    Reply
  8. Michele Valerie Cloonan

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you for another thoughtful, moving, and intimate Thanksgiving letter.
    I was not raised as a Catholic as both of my parents left the Church while they were in college. However, 3 of my 4 grandparents were Catholic and the fourth, my mother’s father, was Jewish. One of my grandmothers saw to it that I was baptized as a Catholic. My godfather was one of her best friends–and a gay man. (Back then the parlance was “confirmed bachelor.) He was a wonderful friend to–and member of–our family–and no one made my grandmother laugh harder. This was the late 1950s, so obviously he was not “out.”
    This was my earliest example of unconditional, unselfish love. By the time he died in the 1990s, he was openly gay. But that fact was irrevelant–my grandmother had already taught me the true meaning of love.
    Love and peace,
    Michele

    Reply
  9. Nina Pension

    Steve,
    Reading your story was like watching the rays of the sunlight rise up out of the darkness. Through all of your pain I could feel the compassion of God shining through. Your honest and intimate sharing spoke to and for so many of us, and opened a path for hope. I often think that God’s dream for us dear human beings
    rises up at certain places in the scriptures like the high peaks on a mountain range, expressing what is so often hidden from our eyes, but yet deep within our hearts. I am thinking of that place where the Lord says that on his holy mountain there shall be no death and pain, but only healing and reconciliation. “There shall be no harm on all my holy mountain.”. No harm at all. And I pray that every step we now take is towards this all compassionate vision of safety and well-being for all. Thank you, Steve, for illuminating our path. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Marianne and your whole family.
    Peace,
    Nina
    PS. After reading your piece I returned to the picture of you and Matt which appeared at the beginning and opened it up wide to look into your faces. What love shines through you and Matt! And behind you both, the San Damiano Cross of Saint Francis with the Lord’s eyes wide open in compassion.

    Reply
    1. Karen

      That’s lovely, and says what I felt better than I could.
      I geel privileged to read all of the comments here. Steve and Marianne are exceptional people, aren’t they. Thank you.

      Reply
    2. Steve Dalton

      Nina:

      Your response brings tears to my eyes. You and John have walked with us for so much of this journey, and we have drawn so much from your consistent care and support. I could never thank you enough, so I will simply say that we love you both more than we can express.

      With deep gratitude,

      Steve

      Reply
  10. Mary M

    A thoughtful essay. Invites us in because it is so personal and brave…thank you.

    Love and acceptance are your bedrock, Steve and Marianne. Your faith and the most amazing capacity to nurture a family when you did not have that role model is bewildering (and inspiring!)

    Thanks for putting this pondering and wisdom out there. I hope the cruising priest and his brethren find this and behin to question their approach.

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Mary, thanks so much for your wonderfully affirming comments. I too hope for a more pastoral approach by some in the Church, an approach that honors the dignity and faith of all God’s people. Blessings always! – Steve

      Reply

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