Today is day 21 of an online meditation practice I signed up for, led by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. I haven’t had much success with meditation when I’ve attempted it in the past, but this spoke to me and I decided to give it another try. Today’s meditation was on creating peace. Sarvesham Shantir Bhavatu. I desire peace for all beings.

On Friday, I presented at a workshop on LGBT youth issues. I had the 8 to 9 am spot and not being a morning person, it was a minor miracle that I got up on time, got there and didn’t even have my shirt on inside-out or backwards, which has been known to happen on occasion. (This explains my preference for shirts with buttons when I’m doing public speaking. Buttoning them if they’re on backwards is just hell!)

I digress. I had an hour to do what is normally at least a 90-minute presentation. I talked in fast forward. Developmental theory, models of coming out, now superimpose the stages of coming out over typical adolescent development thus creating the common challenges that face LGBT youth. I got them all in and successfully yielded the floor to the next speaker without tripping, spilling water down my right-side out and frontwards-facing shirt or otherwise making a spectacle of myself.

Post-workshop, I stationed myself by the door to collect evaluation forms from the exiting attendees. Two gentlemen approached. They’d been there all day, early attendees who’d been around during the 8 to 9 am slot. The first gentleman came to a full stop in front of me, not the pause-and-push-a-paper at me that most other folks had done as they breezed by, and he held out his hand for me to shake. I put my palm against his and he gripped tightly—admirably!—and said, “You won’t remember me.”

Curious, I perked up. Should I remember him? Had we met previously?

“I attended a training you did many years ago…” His voice trailed off and he started to chuckle. “Back when both of our hair was much darker.”

I chuckled with him, uncertain about where this was going and now a little distracted by the thought of my greying spikes. He still held my hand and his grip firmed up a bit more.

“I wanted to say thank you.”

My head tipped. “Thank you for what?” I asked.

He cleared his throat and his dark eyes crinkled in the corners. “I sat through your training as a young professional. In corrections. And I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

He did say this was a thank you, right?

“So what did I do that was helpful?” I asked.

“A couple of years ago, my kid came out and everything you said would happen, happened. You helped my family so much…and you didn’t even know.”

I tightened my own grip on his hand and I felt the bridge spanning the space between our hearts click into place. “I know now.”

I was barely tuned in to the next few folks who handed me their evaluation forms as I watched him go and his words sank in. The bridge stretched and I knew I’d feel that for days to come. How many years ago would that training have been when he sat there thinking yeah, yeah, yeah? Eight? Ten? How old was his kid when that training happened? And how old when the kid came out to him? He didn’t have to say anything to me. I was touched that he made it a point to make the connection, touched that he’d stopped and taken my hand. He made it personal. For him, I was sure it had been personal for a long time.

Sometimes what I get to do for a living is humdrum. I push a lot of paperwork and answer a lot of emails on a lot of days. Then there are days like Friday, when I go out to do a presentation and learn that something I said in a training however many years ago made a difference to someone…maybe eased some pain they were experiencing.

I desire peace for all beings.

My Catholic school roots stir. Maybe St. Francis was onto something, praying for something that would echo through my career before people could even spell LGBT. Make me an instrument of peace. That St. Francis must have been one smart dude.


  1. Barb reh says:

    My favorite quote – “Civilizations flourish when people plant trees under which they will never sit.” You assuredly have planted many such trees!

  2. Those are very kind words, Barb. Thank you!

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