City of Refuge
“In Honolulu, Hawaii, there is a walled city guarded by grinning gods and surrounded by palm trees. It’s called the City of Refuge and dates back to the 12th century. If you’ve been outlawed for political or religious reasons, or if you’ve been defeated in battle, you were sentenced to death, but you were given a chance to survive: if you made it to the City of Refuge alive, you were allowed to live within its walls.swim the last part of the journey.
To survive, you would have to be strong, but you would also be traumatized. To survive, you may have to join the other outcasts, even if you come from warring camps. You would have to use your wits and strength to outrun your pursuers, but you might lose your sense of humanity in the process of the chase. Once inside the city walls, if you managed to survive, you would have to become whole, perhaps for the first time. You would have to put a motto to a way of loving each other, which would be difficult because most of you would arrive broken. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, San Francisco is the City of Refuge.”
– – Family values, two mothers and their son, Phyllis Burke, Random House
I will tell you a part of my story about how I came to San Francisco. Years ago I was young, naive and lost in this strange place I now call home. Some time later, when my son Jesse was born, I was proud that he was a San Francisco native because the Bay Area was so much more accepting of me than anywhere else I had ever lived. That’s when Jesse’s other mother, Phyllis, started writing a book about our family because even in San Francisco it was difficult for families headed by same-sex parents to be legally recognized as the parents of their own children. Since then, a lot has changed here, but in many places in this country and around the world, perfectly good people and families are treated as social, political, and religious outlaws, and so this city remains a city. of Refuge.
Although the details of my story may be different from yours, your story is related to mine. Each person has a story about where he came from and what he was like when he got here, a story about not being willing to sacrifice our capacity for love and intimacy simply to please others. However, this experience alone is not enough. Change and rebirth are not just an initiation that we go through once, making further growth unnecessary. Once found, we face change, loss, and rebirth throughout our lives.
Although our lives can be a banquet to which we are invited every day, it can be easy to simply not show up. A new menu every sunrise can be scary, a little overwhelming, or even painful. But at the end of the day we will have known only two kinds of pain: the pain of being present to ourselves or the pain of regret. So when you listen to yourself today, what do you hear? How do you know if the path you are on is leading to success and fulfillment or apathy and despair? Finding the company of others who care about such questions can be invaluable in helping you find your own answers.
Talk to someone today. Tell another person who you are and what you need. It will increase your own capacity to be human. Making time for others and letting others really see us can help us show ourselves the outline of our own soul. It can help us cross the sea of life on an ocean liner instead of a rowboat. And this is very important because it takes a lifetime to become completely ourselves, over and over again.