Letter Nine: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Greetings Whelan,

I hope this letter finds you well. I received your letter just before we left the Forest Realm and though I wanted to read it immediately, there was no time.

We traveled into the Obsidian Mountains today to meet with Great Healer Magala and the Blood Elves of their clan.

Of all the realms of Avalon, theirs is the most imposing and yet, also the most peaceful to me. So much of their time is spent quietly save for the younglings who run freely from home to home as if they are all truly one family, and when the entire clan comes together for festivals and celebrations.

I do not understand their healing magic. I’m not sure any Elf outside their clan does, but I’ve seen them work wonders.

How I wish you could sneak away to join me for a day on this journey, but I fear you are right. There is so much space between the clans and mountains of etiquette to be followed. I wonder sometimes if it has always been this way.

I must go soon. I am going to take a long soak in one of the hot springs in the mountains. The water there is amazing, though I’m sure you know that.

Were you able to bring the nymphs and merfolk into some kind of agreement today?

I would love to hear about it. I have met some of the merfolk leaders before, but I’ve never dealt with the water nymphs and other water elementals directly. I have spent considerable time with the sylphs, however, and if they are any indication, I’m sure your work is not easy.

We will be with the Blood Elves for at least another day or two and then we travel to the Fire Elf realm under the mountains.

Write to me soon,

Altair

Image by Adrian Lang from Pixabay

It’s Time to Stop Using God to Further Bigotry Against the LGBTQ Community

Well, here we go again. Apparently, the gays are responsible for Covid-19, or perhaps more importantly, widespread acceptance of the gays did it.

Let me explain.

In a rather long and sometimes self-contradictory blog post, the Reverend Ralph Drollinger–a man described as the current president’s bible study leader and who has said that he does believe that there should be a separation between church and state, but that the church should still influence the state–implies that God has forsaken the world due to its acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Now, to be fair, we’re not the only ones who have caused God to forsake us. Quoting Romans Chapter 1, Drollinger says it is the also the atheists, environmentalists, those with “depraved minds,” and most telling, those who know better but still allow or sanction such behaviors, are also on the list.

For most of us in the LGBTQ community, this kind of thing is old hat to the point of being a joke. Every time there’s a major earthquake, a hurricane, or any other natural disaster folks like Drollinger, Pat Robertson, and their ilk are quick to point to our community saying, “Look God doesn’t like these people and he’s punishing us because we’ve given them rights.”

It’s the classic division of “us” and “them” that is frequently found in insular groups, but it takes on an insidious tone when used in this way.

You see, what he’s really saying is that none of these groups are directly at fault except those who are Christian and still accept their LGBTQ children, neighbors, family, etc. and love them without judgement and without acknowledgement of what the Bible says.

Growing up in an Evangelical church in Texas, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” This qualifying statement serves as an out for those who are believers in that they can still treat you nicely to your face while silently judging who you are and what you do.

It denies the sciences that tell us there are biological differences in the brain and genetic make-ups of LGBTQ individuals and cis-het humans by calling our identities, our orientations, and our gender expressions a sin that can be overlooked because “God says I should love you anyway.”

Around the globe, despite the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, there are people of every race, religion, and age coming to terms with these identities and hoping against hope that they will find deep and lasting acceptance from their families.

Unfortunately for them, there are men and women like Drollinger telling those loved ones that by doing so God will forsake them, their country, and the world, allowing pandemics and other natural disasters to occur rather than showing mercy.

Drollinger goes on in his blog to liken what we are seeing to what he calls “consequential wrath” relating it to a “reaping what you sow” if/then logic.

Here’s where we get into the more insidious portion of his writings.

After spending a great deal of time talking about “forsaking wrath” Drollinger switches to “consequential wrath.” He does so to underline the fact that in Romans, Paul was talking to the Church and Believers and does not mention nations.

Further, he says, that the passages he covers in his blog speak to the fact that these all point toward the sanctification and purification of the Church. He is very clear that he does not believe that in the current age God engages in consequential wrath upon nations because they are not wholly accepting of the Gospel.

BUT he does believe, again, that the actions of the Church influence the State, and toward the end of his blog he writes:

“Those individuals who are rebuked by God’s forsaking wrath are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.”

So, you see the LGBTQ community brought about this pandemic because we dare live our lives in the open.

The Atheists brought about this pandemic because they do not believe in God.

The Environmentalists brought about this pandemic because they dared love the Creation more than the Creator.

Those who knowingly commit sins brought about this pandemic because they are not repentant.

And those who are believers have brought about this pandemic because they accepted all of these other people with open arms and love the way that Christ commanded in the Gospels.

“”This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Christ didn’t love Mary Magdalene despite the fact that she was a prostitute. Christ didn’t love Zacchaeus despite the fact that he was a tax collector, and not to be too controversial here, but Christ didn’t love Judas despite the fact that he knew he would be betrayed by him.

Churches are breaking apart over this very issue right now. Among others, The United Methodist Church is facing a complete division over the debate for LGBTQ rights and equality which will almost assuredly lead to two new churches and has already led many to step away from the church all together.

We do not need Drollinger’s rhetoric fanning the flames of intolerance in the name of righteousness. Not now. Not ever.

Pointing toward a marginalized group and calling us the problem leads to violence. If you don’t believe me, go back and read up on the Holocaust and while you’re at it, read some of the actual accounts of the lynchings of members of the black community in our own country.

People are scared, and rightfully so, of the fallout of this pandemic. Giving it a face, giving it a name, giving people a target will get people killed.

I will leave you with one final quote from Drollinger’s blog, however:

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

I know how he interpreted that verse. How will you?

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I Never Got to Come Out to My Family

My coming out to my family was stolen from me by a nosy mother and a loud-mouthed aunt and after more than two decades I’m still sore about it.

No, seriously, let me explain.

For you to really understand, we have to go way back to my childhood and hit a few landmarks.

I grew up in a small, rural town in East Texas in a—mostly—devout evangelical household. I say “mostly” because mom and dad liked country music and they let us celebrate Halloween. I’m not sure most of the members of our church knew that, but if you know anything about evangelical churches then you know that’s walking a very thin line.

By the time, I was seven or eight years old, I knew that gay people went to hell. By the time I was 12, I knew that I was gay.

And so I played straight. I dated a few girls through high school and into college where I met a young woman and we began seeing each other exclusively.

And all the while, my eyes were constantly drawn to the men in my classrooms, at work, walking down the street.

Naturally, I hunkered down. I thought if I prayed hard enough, and believed hard enough I could change these thoughts. I could be straight.

I proposed to the woman I was dating, and she said yes.

She won a grant to study abroad for a year. While she was living in a student’s hostel in London, I was at home attending classes, picking out invitations and going over music and decorations. I even found Celtic harpists for our reception!

Maybe I wasn’t pulling off the straight act as well as I thought I was.

I had a lot of free time on my hands, and as the saying goes, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.”

My idle hands found themselves wrapped around the neck of a beautiful young man one night a few weeks before my fiancé was due home for Christmas break. From the moment our lips met, I knew that my acting days were coming to an end and I was terrified.

I tried to take my own life, but with the help of friends and an amazing professor, got myself into counseling.

When the time came, I picked her up from the airport and drove to her mother’s house. We talked about her trip and the fascinating people she’d met abroad. When we finally arrived, her mother and sister were asleep and she asked me what was wrong.

Apparently, I hadn’t been as active in the conversation as I thought.

My mind rushed to think of what to say: I was tired. It had been a long day.

I opened my mouth and the words “I’m gay” fell out instead.

Needless to say, my engagement had come to an end, and after a restless night pretending to sleep on the couch, I got up early the next morning and cried all the way home where I broke the news to mom and dad that their eldest son would not, after all, be getting married.

My dad seemed un-phased, but my mom, well, she acted like a mom. She asked me what happened, and I made up stories, doing my best to remain calm.

I confided to a coworker about what had happened and she put me in touch with her brother, who was gay, and said he’d be a good friend.

Turns out he was, and we wrote letters to each other almost every week.

John was a funny guy and he would include rather naughty pictures of our favorite actors in his letters along with suggestions for places to go to meet other men my age. I was still living at home, and I would hide his letters along with all of the other interesting items in the back of my underwear drawer, far away from prying eyes.

Let me tell you something you might not know. Your underwear drawer may be a scared space your dad won’t touch, but I assure you that your mother will.

One morning, at 6 am no less, my mother woke me after my dad had left for work and told me that she’d “accidentally found John’s letters” while putting laundry away. Never mind that her accident would have taken serious commitment to make, my mind was reeling as she asked me the question I’d been afraid of for a decade.

“You like women, right?”

Not what you were expecting?

For the record, I am 43 years old and to this day my mother has never said the word “gay” to me.

I looked at her sitting on the end of my bed and thought it would be an easy lie to tell. But I couldn’t tell it. I just didn’t have it in me anymore.

“No,” was my only reply. I watched as my mother’s heart broke and her tears flowed freely.

She insisted we pray, forbade me to tell my dad and went to work. Within two weeks I had taken a knife to myself, again, with the intention of ending my own life.

My doctor upped my Paxil dosage and my counselor and I doubled down on our sessions.

Flash forward a couple of months: I’m sitting at a family reunion, when one of my many aunts sat next to me and makes small talk for about 2.5 minutes before asking, “Waylon, are you gay?”

I was shocked, but I told her that I was. I also told her that mom wasn’t ready to talk about it and dad didn’t know. Naturally, the next time they paid her a visit, she told them and said they needed to accept me for who I was.

Bless her heart…

I was banished from home for a good six months while the news of my gayness spread through the family thanks to that same aunt, though I did manage to beat her to the punch with my two brothers who took it surprisingly well.

Gradually, my exile was lifted, and 20 years later we have an uneasy peace between us. They even buy Christmas gifts for my husband though they did refuse to come to our wedding.

Still, I’ve always felt that moment was stolen from me. It should have been my own story to tell in my own words when I was ready, and I’ll always wonder if it would have been smoother if I’d had that chance.

I suppose I’ll never know.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Letter Eight: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Altair,

It is going to take time for me to become accustomed to speaking to you without your title, but I will do my very best.

As it happens, I have visited the Great Forest many times. The rivers that run through the land there are still the domain of the Water Elves and so upon occasion I am required to visit.

I do so love the trees, but I have never been beyond the receiving canopy at the Forest Hold. I’m sure the view you have is stunning. Perhaps, someday I will see it myself.

By the time you receive this reply, you will most likely have left their realm behind. Where will you visit next? I assume there is an order to these things, but it never occurred to me to ask.

Your letter was waiting for me when I returned to the Watery Keep after a rather long and arduous day of mediation between the merfolk and water nymphs over a territorial dispute. If there is anything I accomplish as ruler of the Water Elves, I hope it will be a final and lasting treaty between these two factions.

I think tomorrow I”ll go to my favorite river bank near the Peaceful Cove and relax there before reconvening the negotiations.

Mother handed your letter to me when I arrived with the strangest smile upon her face. If I did not know better, I would swear she had taken a peek before she delivered it. As it happens, I do know better. Trust me, Altair, she would never spy nor pry. I think she’s simply happy that you and I are coming to know each other better.

As for your question, I do remember playing quite a lot when I was a youngling, though here we are much more accustomed to swimming than running! Like you, however, I do not remember days or specific instances save for a broken arm I earned sparring with Titan.

I was only just learning to use the trident, and well, I was awkward.

I do wish I could join you on your journey. It would be fascinating to spend more time with the other nobles of Avalon beyond passing greetings on Feast Days, and I confess, it would simply be nice to spend more time with you.

If I did not think the carefully crafted walls of social decorum in Avalon would fall to the ground, I might simply appear unannounced on one of your stops.

I suppose I shall wait, however. It is only a few days more. Why am I so anxious?

Be safe and know that you are in my thoughts as well,

Whelan

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Letter Seven: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Whelan,

I am sorry I have not written sooner. With preparations for the tour, there was little time.

I arrived in the Forest Realm this morning and spent the day talking to King Albara and his wife, Queen She’an and have only just retired to my rooms here to rest before the feasting tonight. Albara says that the forest is abundantly healthy this season and I cannot help but agree.

I do not know if you have had occasion to visit the Great Forest before, but as I write this, I am gazing out the windows of the Forest Hold over groves of trees that shine like emeralds against the golden rays of the afternoon Sun.

Below me, younglings play and run, shouting to each other, and laughing. How I envy them. Did you often have time to run and play as a child? I’m sure I did, but I cannot seem to remember a specific day. Perhaps, those days all meld into one in our memories.

Regardless, I find that I wish you were here. It would be nice to have a companion on this journey. Of course I travel with a full Guard and the Captain of the Night Guard accompanies me, as well, but it is not the same.

I could speak to them all day and there would still be a space between us. That space seems to be present with every other Elf in Avalon save for you.

I suppose I shall have to be patient. We will be in the Watery Keep in a few days’ time after all. I hope we will have time to talk, then.

Until then, know that you are ever in my mind.

Altair

Image by Gya Than Arts from Pixabay

Letter Six: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Whelan,

Please, I asked you to call me Altair.

We both live our lives surrounded by formality. It would be a comfort to know that I have a friend who will call me by name without title. I hope that you will think of me as something beyond the High Prince of Avalon on the Throne of Night.

I suppose, in answer to your first question, I have never known another life. Certainly, I have visited the lower kingdoms but this is my home, and when I am away, I miss the feeling of being so close to the stars and the moon and even the sun.

I don’t say this to make it sound as though I take their closeness for granted. When the moon is full, it still takes my breath away, and when it is hidden from sight, the blanket of stars overhead do the same.

You ask many questions. I like that about you, and yes, we must meet again when there is time to discuss the answers more fully though I do hope you will continue writing to me. This will be my first official tour of the realms of Avalon as its ruler, and it would bolster my resolve to read your words.

I fear this will be a telling tour. For good or bad, when it is finished, I will know more what the rulers of the realms think of me.

Please, write as often as you can. I will keep a basin of water nearby so that your letters will reach me no matter where I may be.

Humbly,

Altair

P.S. I thank you for your compliment, and I tell you this. You are as beautiful to me.

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Letter Five: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

High Prince Altair,

I want to thank you again for the lovely dinner. You are right. There is nothing quite like the view of the stars from the Realm of Night. They are so much closer–so much brighter–and I have never seen the moon so gloriously shining; not even when, as a youngling, I would swim toward the horizon in an attempt to catch it.

Seeing you there, unfettered by responsibility, and simply enjoying yourself…well, I admit it was a great pleasure for me. Forgive my boldness, but you are handsome to the point of breathtaking most especially when you are so relaxed.

What would it be like, I wonder, to live on an island floating in the air? How does it change your perspective of the world and the Elves who live below? Do you believe the stories of the Great and Ancient Issarra of the Seven carving land from each of the clans and molding them together to create the Realm of Night in the sky? Is it strange to live in a world filled with magic and wonder if the old stories are true?

I suppose, should we find the opportunity to dine together again, we can discuss those very things.

I do hope that opportunity arises, though I know it will be difficult.

I know you are beginning the tour of kingdoms soon. Perhaps, when you visit the Watery Keep, we may find some time to speak privately.

Until then, be well, High Prince Altair.

Prince Whelan

Image by Okan Caliskan from Pixabay

Letter Four: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Greetings High Prince Altair,

I must apologize. I certainly had no intention of the letter landing in your bath! What you must think. I have never seen your private chambers before and so I sent the letter to you hoping that it would perhaps appear in a basin of water near you.

Why does that sound worse?!

Ah well, it is done, and cannot be undone. As for how the letter arrived dry, it’s a simple matter of wrapping it in air before I give it to the waters for transport. That same air holds it just above the surface of the water so that it does not become wet before it is received.

I assure you, however, that I will find a different way of sending this letter to you so that it does not arrive in a place so private as your bathing chambers.

You and I are so similar and yet so different. I often feel the weight of a crown that I do not yet wear, but if I am honest, I enjoy greatly the work that father has given me. It means I can spend more time in the seas and the rivers and lakes.

The world is so different beneath the surface and beyond the walls of the Watery Keep. I love it, very much.

As for sparring and learning to fight, I have done my fair share, but I do not draw the same joy from it that my brother, Titan, does. As the second child of my parents, he will be in charge of the Water Guard, and I am happy for him. I am also happy that the responsibility will not fall to me.

Magic has always been a better tool for me than a dagger or sword.

I have spoken to father and mother and they have are most happy to free me from responsibility for the evening. They say it is important for the “next generation” of Avalonian nobles to spend time together which is odd as I have never seen a noble from another realm visit the Watery Keep aside from your father when he makes the annual tour of kingdoms.

The location you’ve chosen sounds quite enchanting and the fountain is as good an arrival point as any for myself. To answer your question, I have not seen the the stars from the Realm of Night, but I have heard mother speak of them and I look forward to seeing them for myself.

Until the full moon,

Prince Whelan

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Letter Three: Altair to Whelan

To: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters
From: High Prince Altair

Greetings Prince Whelan,

Imagine my surprise when I walked into my bathing chamber and found your letter floating atop the water in my bath. Was that intentional? You must tell me sometime how you send a letter that floats on water, yet remains completely dry.

Intentional or no, I was glad to hear from you and so soon.

I understand too well what you must be going through right now. From the time I was a youngling, my father had me at his side learning the ways of diplomacy though I must admit I would sneak away as often as I could to the practice field to spar with the Captain of the Night Guard.

In my mind, I knew that the Throne of Night would one day be mine, but in my heart, I wanted nothing more than to run, jump, play, and learn to fight with sword and shield on the field.

I do not know why. There hasn’t been a true war in Avalon for two generations, at least, but I am told now that it is better to be prepared than caught off guard.

King Alain is very kind to speak so highly of my taking on the Throne. He does not see the daily struggle, however, to prove to merchants, diplomats, and an ever-growing list of my relations who do not believe that I am ready for the position.

It would be one thing if father had died, but his abdication makes them nervous. They second-guess me which is only slightly less annoying than when they look at me with a condescending expression that says, “Someday you will know better.”

I’m sorry to ramble on, but again, I feel a comfort with you that I do not often find in others.

As for your question, the moon will be fullest in three days time, and it would be a lovely time to share an evening meal with you near the fountain in the courtyard of the Palace. It is one of my favorite places to sit and to think with the water of the fountain bubbling nearby, and when the sky is full of stars, it is a sight to behold.

I do not know if you have ever seen the night skies from the great height of the Realm of Night, but I assure you it is a wonder.

I await your answer. I shall check my bathing chamber often!

Until then, I wish you well.

Humbly yours,

High Prince Altair

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

Letter Two: Whelan to Altair

To: High Prince Altair
From: Prince Whelan of the Realm of Waters

Greetings High Prince Altair,

It was so good to receive your letter. I admit, I have thought of our conversation often, as well.

I would very much like to visit you at the Palace of Night, though I am not sure when I will be able to do so. As you know my father, King Alain, is still firmly in place here in the Watery Keep, but he has decided it is time for me to take on more responsibilities.

I have become a liaison or diplomat of sorts between the merfolk and the throne, and you would be surprised how often I’m called upon to settle disputes between the various clans there.

Still, if you will tell me when, I am sure father will see fit to let me slip away. He admires you very much. He says often that he hopes that when my time comes, I will take on my responsibilities as smoothly and capably as you have.

I fear no other Elf is capable of that, however, so father will have to take me as I am.

Perhaps, you will tell me how you’ve done it.

Humbly yours,

Prince Whelan

Image by kalhh from Pixabay