• Tag Archives: lesbian writer

Here Comes the Sun – Hope for Light in the Shadows

Here comes the sun. Today is full of sunlight. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is warmth. Yet, we all know that the coming sun promises of coming warmth. That’s always our hope especially after a winter as tough as the one that is still passing. My dear friend Alicia posted this wonderful picture saying, “Here Comes the Sun” and the photo is a perfect example of what we wait for during Holy Week. I think this picture is a perfect representation because there is the sun, but there are also shadows.

Here Comes the Sun, by Alicia Randolph Rapking

 

We all know that in the shadows, things can be cold. We live in a world of shadow. There are times when we read the news or argue with a loved one and it seems like the shadows are overcoming the world. As we enter into Holy Week, we enter a time where we are still in the shadows, but the promise of light is there shining brighter than the darkness.

Yesterday, we were without power here on Beech Mountain. Because of the snow on Friday and Saturday, then rain, well the mountain is basically a large ice cube. In order to keep the pipes from freezing, me and the dog tended a fire for twelve hours instead of attending church. It was Palm Sunday yesterday, but for me it was a day of keeping the fire going.

 

Yet, as I think about the meaning behind Palm Sunday and Holy Week, isn’t that what we are doing too? We are keeping the fire of hope and light alive in a cold and cruel world. By reenacting what happened in that dark time, we are remembering that life can be dark, but there is also promise of light.

 

As the days go by, the ground will warm. People have already begun to plant seeds for sprouting. Why now, when winter is still at our door? Because we know the sun comes around. Preparing the seeds, putting chicks in brooders, checking out dormant garden beds are ways that we all look to brighter days ahead. We all need such reminders in our lives.

 

Planting seeds can be discouraging too. Sometimes the things we sprout, dry up because we forget to water them or perhaps it was not fully germinated. There are sometimes things we just cannot know. I remember buying a goat one year and was so excited for only the goat to die suddenly. When I talked to people about what I might have done to better protect the goat, the sad answer given was that sometimes goats got sick with no warning. Sometimes bad things happen in our lives and there’s no way we could anticipate the tragedy or hurt. Sometimes we know a storm is coming and yet, it still throws us for a loop. If there were only shadows, only the cold cruel realities of life, it would be hard for us to go on.

Here comes the sun. Where? Look in the mirror. You are the sun. You are the one bringing light and hope to the world. Whether you do it by marching or by acts of kindness, our world needs you to shine. Shine a smile on the walk at your lunch break. Stop to pet a dog. Call a congress member or state representative. Here’s the important thing to remember: You are not alone. You are just a ray. You don’t have to be responsible for lighting up the entire world, just your corner of the world. Just your spot.

 

Here’s another important thing to remember. You are the seed. There are times that you cannot shine because so much humus has been composted on your head. That means you have to wait for others to shine a light so that you can grow into something new. Have you ever seen how a seed starts to sprout? It is so fascinating to watch. The seed is planted and is hard as stone. Then the moisture of the earth and the warmth of the sun causes the seed to soften. Soon, a tendril of new life comes out of the seed’s cover; the shell that kept everything hard. As the tendril grows, the seed begins to change shape and sheds the testa, and in shedding that hard seed coating becomes something totally different – a plant. Seeds? What does a seed have to do with the sun?

The gardeners reading this know the answer and perhaps you do too. New life. When the sun comes out we are hoping for new life. After a long winter, we all need to get out of our cabins, apartments, condos and be present in a different way. We may want to dig in the dirt, hike, or go to the beech. New life. What brings you new life? What brings light into your shadows? For me, worship, poetry, music, family, pets, and friends bring light into my life. The last time I talked with my mom, she reminisced about singing a song called, “I wanna be a Sunbeam.” She sang it to me, but I can’t sing it back. Yet, even that memory of mom singing to me over the phone brings light into my heart.

Today I have the opportunity to talk about my coming out process as a religious person. I see this as an opportunity to spread light and hope. My faith always gives me hope, even in the darkest of times. It is through my faith that I felt led to come out and accept myself. As a result, my life began changing in ways that many did not expect. Coming out is a process like a seed sprouting. One feels vulnerable every time, as tender as a young plant’s shoot. But by coming out, we can plant seeds of kindness and hope for others. We can be sunbeams and rays of hope in a hurting world. Here comes the sun and it wants to shine in your shadow places. Let there be light. Let the plant grow. Learn to be yourself in rays of hope. Here comes the sun.

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

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Friendship and Marching Forward

I like puns. Marching forward in March. Seems appropriate for the month of March and to celebrate a new start. I am using the word celebrate, while also hoping that a positive new start will actually come true. Yesterday was the one year mark of my separation from my beloved wife. It’s been a hard year. And yet, during this year I’ve also been blessed to reconnect with friends across North Carolina and given the opportunity to make friends from other states and other countries even. It’s amazing how many different people come to Beech Mountain.  I always celebrate friendships!

 

It is through friendships that we can get through life. I know that I have been blessed with many friends who have helped me learn to accept myself and live my truth. As a lesbian, this has been pure gift to me in a world that did not accept me when I was younger and even still struggles with acceptance at times. When I was younger I didn’t understand the problem, can’t say I really understand now. I am at the point however, where I get it when people say, “It is what it is. Deal with it.”

 

When I was younger, I wanted to change the world. My hope was to change the world to be a more loving place. Yes, I was idealistic and I still have that tendency. I think it’s what gets me through life so I don’t want to give that up. At the same time, one does have to have a grasp on what is real and present in our time. Our times continue to bring forth good things even amidst the craziness of the world at large. But by being truthful and good people, we can empower others to be good and truthful people. We must never give up hope. That is when friends come in. Friends give us courage, wisdom, love, and often a shoulder to cry on.

 

Throughout life, I have been blessed with precious friends. Some of my deepest friendships have come from my undergraduate alma mater, Pfeiffer College. Pfeiffer is now a university. In my time, it was a growing college. Next week I have been asked to be a part of a forum to talk about the challenges of coming out. This will be a huge honor for me.

 

Pfeiffer was a great place to go to college. I still think it’s a great college even though it’s grown. I attended the small campus in Misenheimer, North Carolina. Misenheimer is on the edge of Stanly County. Halfway between Salisbury and Albemarle, it was a liberal arts college that  had an excellent choral program. It is also located in the county where I grew up. That’s not what attracted me however. It was the small classrooms and the excellence in music.

When I attended, it was during the days that it was both a Methodist campus and also an alcohol free campus. It was more conservative than UNCG which was the other choral program I considered. My first choice of all was App State, but they focused on band music. As much as I loved band, I knew that I wanted to focus on choral music. Singing was my first love, and Pfeiffer also had a Church Music program. As a missionary wannabe, Pfeiffer fit where I thought God was leading me at the time.

Looking back, I see Pfeiffer as an even more perfect fit, because I needed a liberal arts education. The liberal arts education helped me to broaden my horizon and broaden my knowledge. I liked the anonymity that the vast campus of UNCG offered because I knew that I was different. Knew that someday I would need to face the fact that I was a homosexual. Stanly County was a little too close to home to do that. I tried to date guys. Wasn’t ready to come out to others and very afraid to come out to my family. Like me, my family was religious.

What ended up happening is that at Pfeiffer I was able to begin to explore who I was as a human being. And in being human, God was there through the friends I made at Pfeiffer. No-one pressured me to give up on my faith. God provided an angel of a roommate who  put up with me for four years. We had a blast! She was more like my sister than anything. When I did begin to explore accepting myself as a lesbian, my roommate was the first person I could trust with the information. Slowly, I began to come out to a few other classmates.  Because Pfeiffer was a Methodist campus and I was focusing on Christian education as a minor, being able to come out in this atmosphere helped me better reconcile faith and who I was as a human being.

That doesn’t mean that I came out of Pfeiffer with my degree and a totally integrated sense of self.  If that were the case, life would be much easier. But even all these years later, I still turn to my friends from Pfeiffer when I need someone to talk to about music, God, or life. The friends I made in college have  been there as I came out, and became more fully who God created me to be.

 

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have dear friends outside of college. Yet, because of the friends I had in college, I became brave enough to talk to the friends outside of college and realized those people love me too. During college, everyone is struggling to become. We don’t know what we’re trying to become, but some of the struggles are the same even though in different fields. If you’re in the area of Pfeiffer University next Monday night please join us at the Coming Out Forum at 7 o’clock. We will talk from different aspects of life about the challenges of coming out and especially coming out in a small rural community.

http://www.pfeiffer.edu/events/coming-out-forum-coming-out-all-over

Monday, 3/26/18 – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Misenheimer
Stokes Community Room (Stokes 207)

 

I am thankful beyond measure for friends and family who still love me and who see the good in me. It is because of good people who are  kind and loving that our world has hope.

________________

Robin Whitley has an undergraduate in music (A.B.) from Pfeiffer University. Her Masters Degree (M.Div.) comes from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina

 

 

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Snow Kisses

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The Politics of Life and Faith

My friend from India, Reji, a Coptic Orthodox priest gave me this message when I left an ecumenical conference. I asked him, “If you could say ANY THING to the people in the US what would you say?”

I expected him to give me a beautiful spiritual quote on Christianity or living in peace together. He was an Orthodox priest and we were there to study, talk about religion and how we CAN get along even with differences. Here is his response:

“Tell your people to get out and vote. You may not think your vote matters, but for India, it decides whether or not many of my own people can afford to eat. We grow bananas near my town but we ship them to the US and then prices are raised so high we cannot afford to buy our own bananas.”

When there are no more hungry people,
When there is no more poverty (LOTS of artists in poverty)
When there are no more wars or violence against women, children, and those of different beliefs or different races…

Then, and then only will I quiet my voice.

When an artist can make a living doing what an artist does
When a painter can paint AND feed her family
A singer can sing and not have to compromise his or her integrity to make a living

Then, and only then will I quiet my voice.

__________________________________________________________________

The above post is from a writing that I did in October of 2008 on my Redbubble Journal. I was new to the “blogosphere” and trying to find a safe place to write politics. Had hated them all my life until my friend from India gave me the above message.

I can’t say that I like politics any better, but what I do understand now is how political actions or statements can have far reaching effects. I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s journals as a nighttime meditation. His concerns about the political situation in the 60s resonates with now. Some of the things he discusses, I remember from the things I experienced as a child. Politics have always been a part of the life of what it means to be human. The word “polity” implies civility. Yet, our discourse is far from civil.

Mystics, contemplatives, and other spiritual greats of history always call for non-violent change. Choose justice, mercy, peace is a message that dates to Micah in the 8th century B.C.E.

[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

 Micah 6:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

We can no longer be silent about what is happening in our world. At the same time, we must stop pointing fingers at each other. How can we change the conversation? Justice, mercy, kindness is my responsibility. Each of us must look in the mirror of our soul and start there. The only change we can truly “control” is how we act or react to life, events, and those around us. I can only begin political activism by starting with me. I choose to love my neighbor in respect, dignity, and mercy. Make your choice. Are YOU willing to change and “… do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

“There is no consolation, only futility, in the idea that one is a kind of martyr for a cause. I am not a martyr for anything, I am afraid. I wanted to act like a reasonable, civilized, responsible Christian of my time. I am not allowed to do this. I am told I have renounced this – fine. In favor of what? In favor of a silence that is deeply and completely n complicity with the forces that carry out oppression, injustice, aggression, exploitation, war. In other words, silent complicity is presented as a ‘greater good’ than hones conscientious protest – it is supposed to be part of my vowed life, for the ‘glory of God.’ Certainly, I refuse complicity. My silence itself is a protest, and those who know me are aware of this fact.”     ~Thomas Merton March 3, 1964[1]

[1] Merton, Thomas, et al. “Part V: Seeking Peace in the Hermitage 1963-1965.” The Intimate Thomas Merton: His Life from His Journals, Lion Publishing, 2000, pp. 215–216.

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A New Year of Creativity – 2018

 

© 2017 Skyview by JRobin Whitley

Creativity is my passion. At the writing of this blog, my life dreams are coming true with three published books, a CD, and more creative projects becoming manifest. Each year of my life has been filled with poetry, reflection, music, meditation, and all of the good that life has to offer. This new year promises more of this goodness.

January 1 started out with guitar work. Then I found a song I had started writing posted on one of my recorders. Got some great photos of the snow that happened on New Years Eve. The wind wasn’t blowing that night so I didn’t exactly “ring in the new year” but it’s coming into my life with promise and hope.

Chimes

This will be my first year without my partner and wife of 12 years. In many ways, it saddens me. I’ve always believed in true love and feel that she was my one. We can’t change situations or other people though. We can only change our attitudes and viewpoints. That being said, my disabilities have shown me how precious and fleeting life is. We mustn’t waste one minute for wishing for the past.

One of the things I’ve learned since my dad died, is that in looking at the past, when love has happened, love remains. All the bad of the past fades in the light of love that shines on. Love lasts when nothing else does.

One of the hardest challenges for many people however is learning to love the self. This is not in the manner of narcissisim, which is an entirely selfish and self-serving love. To love oneself means to live the life that makes you glad to be alive. Be the person you want to wake up beside of in the morning, because no matter what, the one person who is always there is you. Allow yourself to be okay with who you are.

 

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.”
~Golda Meir

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