Peggy and I celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary in September 2006. Peggy was raised Catholic and I was raised Episcopalian. We joined First Methodist in Omaha because they are a congregation who truly welcomes diverse groups of people, including gay people. Peggy never doubted that God loved her, straight or gay. I struggled, finding it hard to believe God loved me at all. I knew I was gay at eleven and a half. Because society and the church were so negative toward gays, I tried hard to be straight. When I finally faced the fact that I am gay, I felt and thought I would have to give up my Self or my God. I didn’t see how I could live without either.
I studied the Bible thoroughly on the matter. I consulted ministers. I concluded that people who condemned me for who I am were misguided, interpreting passages wrongly, too strongly, out of context, or without being willing even to consider modern scientific findings or social structures on the subject. (Social structures? There were no loving, committed gay couples, nor even such a concept, in Biblical society. How could these writers condemn something they’d never heard of?) Intellectually, I was satisfied. Emotionally, I carried years of shame and self-loathing.
At that time, I was an avid practitioner of relaxation and visualization techniques, for stress management and self-healing. I had, in my imagination, a lovely mountain meadow with a lake and brook, surrounded on three sides by mountains & pines, a cottonwood near the lake where Jesus hung out, approaching me when I invited him to. Peggy and 1 had already met. When we first met, I claimed I wanted just to be friends. I may have been still pretending on may have admitted we were “dating”. I can’t remember for sure. 1 do remember I was still scared to death I’d lose Cod’s love if I entered a gay relationship, even a committed, long-term, loving relationship.
One day, during visualization, Jesus and I were walking beside the brook, my right hand in his left. There were wildflowers of all shades in the meadow, across the brook to our left. We came to a grove of very tall, white-barked trees on our right. I had never seen them in the meadow before. There was someone high up in one of the trees, who began climbing down. He? She? walked toward us. It was Peggy. How nice! Jesus took her left hand in his right, we continued to walk beside the clear-running, cold, chattering brook. How lovely! Friends in Christ! As we kept walking, Jesus gently placed Peggy’s hand in mine and my hand in Peggy’s. He stopped and stood on that spot. He watched us with affection and approval as we continued together, hand-in-hand, taking in the beauty of creation and the beauty of loving another human being.
When in “real life”, I told Peggy about this visualization, she told me about the trees (sycamore?) in MillerPark across from her childhood home. She used to play in the park and frequently climbed those trees. I can’t remember whether at that point Peggy had already driven me by her childhood home, where her mom still lived, or not, or even if I might have met her mom and dad. Whether we had driven by or not, gone in or not, I had not consciously noticed those beautiful trees. And I certainly didn’t know Peggy had been a tree climber as a kid. I took this visualization as an indication that Jesus approved of Peggy and me as a couple. I took the fact that 1 had “seen” trees I hadn’t consciously noticed and Peggy’s tree climbing, which I didn’t know anything about, as, well, a “sign” from God.
The minister who led Peggy’s and my ritual to celebrate our love and our twenty-fifth anniversary, called this story a direct revelation of the truth from God.