Photo taken by Olivier Aumage.
Today is a gorgeous day, most likely the last hurrah of summer. The sun is shining, a few puffy clouds drift are studying across the sky, and it is currently 75 degrees. Medeina, my puppy, is frolicking in the yard chasing leaves, and the cat tries to chase the leash. It is a time to just be. I get to sit outside and write this post on my phone. What better weather could I have for Thankful Thursday? And to top it off, A’s teacher just called to tell me that she is having the best day she has had all year (after calling yesterday to say that she had been uncharacteristically difficult this week).
Today I am going to travel back in time 23 years to my freshman year of college. I had no real desire to be there. Being a year younger than the other freshman, I wanted to take a gap year, but it was not in the cards for me. I did learn a lot that year, but very little of it was academic. That year was very important in the evolution of my beliefs. I was raised as an Evangelical Christian, but I already had seeds of doubt.
In college I met people who challenged my beliefs. I feel in love with a man who was pagan, which violated all the rules I had been raised with. At that stage of my life, I didn’t know how to reconcile such discrepancies, so I refused to acknowledge the full force of my feelings, and as a result I never entered into an official relationship with him. For many years I lived with extreme regret over that. Secretly loving K forced me to examine my beliefs about religion more closely. Was he really going to burn in hell for eternity for worshiping false idols? This was a man who carried a dustpan and gloves in his car so he could move the bodies of dead animals off of the road so they could decay with dignity and return to their Earth mother. This was the work of Satan? No other man has ever been more chivalrous than he towards me. He treated me like I actually had value and made me feel like a princess. My upbringing was all that stood between us. He taught me to look deeper and decide for myself if my beliefs on who goes to heaven and who to hell really served me. I am especially grateful to have had him in my life.
While in college I also met my first gay man. My parents taught me that homosexuals were “an abomination to the Lord.” The images that phrase conjured up in my ten-year-old mind created fear bordering on phobia. I was certain that they were just waiting for a moment alone to unzip their human suit and suck out my soul. But J never did that. He was friendly and helpful, and I learned that gays are human, too. Our humanity is not determined by whom we love. J helped me begin to overcome my fears. I am very grateful to have known him in college.
These two men radically shook my faith. Although it was still another few years before I completely gave up the Christian religion, they opened my eyes and showed me a world I didn’t know existed. They taught me tolerance and acceptance, and for that I am grateful.
Did you go to college? Did you learn anything that truly changed your life?