Monthly Archives: January 2023
by Ruby Archer
Hark to the gondolier singing,
Dreamily, dreamily singing,
Ever guiding our languid gondola
Out on the fair lagoon.
Lo, how the pigeons are winging,
Airily, airily winging,
Blending coos in our idle revery
Out on the fair lagoon.
Now is the gondolier calling,
Warningly, warningly calling;
Hark—the answer—from turning shadowy,
Where the dark waters wind.
Now we emerge in a glory,
Radiant, radiant glory;
Campanile and dome rise magical
Out of the Grand Canal.
Every wall has a story,
Passionate, passionate story,—
O’er the song of the gondolier hovering,
Out on the Grand Canal.
Gardens above us are leaning,
Drowsily, drowsily leaning;
Never water and sky so heavenly,
Sung by a gondolier.
Ever and aye in our dreaming,
Far-away, far-away dreaming,
We’ll remember this golden Italy,
Sung by a gondolier.
About 15 years ago, I was doing research in Italy for my dissertation. I was able to spend a month traveling Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice), and it was a trip I will never forget for many reasons. It was the first time I had ever traveled on my own. I remember the beauty and food of Rome and the amazing Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. I wondered through the Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery) of Rome, often referred to as the Cimitero dei protestanti (Protestant Cemetery) looking at the famous graves of Americans who had traveled to Italy in the nineteenth century.
In Florence, I remember the festive atmosphere of the Piazza della Repubblica, the gold merchants on the Ponte Vecchio, the splendor of the Duomo, and the wonders of the storied museums such as the Uffizi Gallery with Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera and The Birth of Venus and the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David. I walked the streets where American artists had walked more than a century before. I visited the English Cemetery and made friends with the strange but infinitely interesting custodian of the cemetery, the medieval scholar Julia Bolton Holloway, formerly a nun of the Anglican order Community of the Holy Family and scholar of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who is buried in the cemetery.
Then I went to Venice, which was cold and damp, and I caught a terrible cold. The city, however, is magical. The canals and the grand palazzos that line it are breathtaking. The gaudy but fascinating Basilica di San Marco and the pink and seemingly austere Doge’s Palace with the Scala d’Oro, the Golden Staircase, and the Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs. I remember taking a vaporetto to the Lido with a group of nuns sitting in front of me laughing and seeming to have the greatest time as they were sprayed by the waters of the Lagoon while we bounced over the waves.
These were all great memories, but what will always warm my heart is the thought of seeing the gondolieri in their blue or red striped tops, red neckerchiefs, wide-brimmed straw hats, and dark pants. In movies you often see an older man guiding the gondolas down the canal as lovers cuddle in the traditional, flat-bottomed rowing boat holding their rowing oar to guide the gondola down the canals. I did not see many old men as gondolieri, but mostly beautiful young men like those in the picture above or the one below who I became enamored with and had to take his picture.
About the Poet
Ruby Archer (Ruby Archer Doud or Ruby Archer Gray) was born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 28, 1873, and died in Los Angeles on January 23, 1961. She was an American poet, educated at Kansas City High School and by private tutors. She was married to Dr. Frank Newland Doud on March 27, 1910, and later to Benjamin Franklin Gray. She contributed poems, translations from French and German dramas and lyrics, and prose articles on art, architecture, music, Biblical literature, philosophy, etc. to papers and magazines.
And So It Begins…
Such an ominous title, but honestly, it’s just what popped into my head as I started writing this. I really only mean that another work weeks begins today. We’ve made it back around to Monday again. My weekend did not go as expected. I had a great outfit ready for the Burly Bears event Friday night, and I actually looked good in it, or at least looked like I came out of the 1970s. However, I developed a migraine Friday afternoon, and it only got worse and worse. I had been excited to go, but I knew that driving to and from Burlington at night would be torture with a migraine. Bright lights always make my migraines worse, so oncoming headlights are difficult to handle. Anyway, I ended up going to bed before 8 pm and slept for nearly nine hours.
I mostly felt better on Saturday, but I’d planned on doing absolutely nothing just to be sure. I had ordered a new blanket for my bed from Walmart, and it was delivered Saturday morning. The problem was that I had ordered light gray but got “gray mist” instead. Gray mist isn’t actually gray at all but more of a sea foam green. I used to have a car that color when I was in college. I hated that car mostly because of f that hideous color, but my parents had bought it for me. But I’m getting off topic. However, just like that car, I did not want sea foam green. The good thing about Walmart is that you can notify Walmart of your intent to return it online and then just take it to the customer service counter at your local Walmart. So, I braved Walmart on a Saturday afternoon. Truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. I got in and out relatively easy and walked away with a nice gray blanket. T wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it will do and t is warm.
Sunday, I left my apartment exactly once to go pick up a pizza for lunch. The rest f the day was spent watching tv. I watched a movie called “Stage Mother” on Hulu. I had seen a trailer for it back when it came out, and it looked interesting. The story follows a conservative church choir director who inherits a drag club in San Francisco started by her deceased son, from whom she was estranged after he came out as gay. The movie was very sweet and heartwarming. I cried, and I laughed, and I cried some more, and laughed some more. I found the movie very emotional, although maybe a tad cliche. I enjoyed it nonetheless.
And that was my weekend. Now, on to the week ahead.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Are self-love and Christianity compatible? Some people may lead you to believe that they are not, but Jesus speaks to this question when He spells out the importance of love in Matthew 22:37-40. He gives us the greatest commandment – to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second one, He states, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Before all else, we must love God first- with every part of our being. It is our rock solid foundation for all that follows, including knowing how to love ourselves and show His love to others. God didn’t create man because of boredom, loneliness, or need. He created us in His image to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. If God’s image is one of unfathomable worth, then being made in His image helps us understand our own worth and purpose.
The Bible warns us in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 that in “the last days perilous times will come” and people will be “lovers of themselves… rather than lovers of God.” So, there is a distinction in self-love that we need to understand. The 2 Timothy verses speaks of a sinful self-love. Paul describes the love in this verse as the Greek word philautos, a selfish and arrogant self-love; intent only on one’s self-interests. People will completely take their eyes off God and their lives will revolve only around themselves and their interests. We see this a lot with right-wing politicians these days. In contrast, the love Jesus speaks of in Matthew was agape love, i.e., Christian love or brotherly love. It is an unselfish love, and the love we should show for God, self, and others.
Christian self-love is based on the love God has for us- selfless and unconditional. While many of us know our identity in Christ and believe He loves us unconditionally, we can still struggle with a right self-love attitude. As gay Christians, this is one of our greatest struggles. We are often taught that our sexuality is an abomination, and we have to get past that by understanding those clobber passages that people throw at us. Once we understand that we were created in God’s own image, we can accept our sexuality as part of us, and then we can begin to love ourselves. We often look in the mirror and concentrate on the things we don’t like about ourselves. It may be our physical self, or things we regret saying or doing in the past. It may be our sexuality or gender. We dislike some of our character traits and feel insecure and guilt. We beat ourselves up over our shortcomings. What we need to realize is that if we are created in God’s image, and we love and obey God, then the way He made us is not a shortcoming.
Enemies of God love to get inside our head and tell us our looks/personality/failures/sexuality, etc., means we’re not worthy of love. How wrong they are! They are the inner bully that eggs us on to self-loathing instead of self-love. They will try anything to separate us from God’s love. However, we are all beautiful inside and out. Our failures make us stronger if we learn from them, and our sexuality is part of who we are. Too many people want to see others hurt so they can feel better and more superior about their own lives. Instead of following God’s word, they want to hit us over the head with their distorted beliefs and hatred.
We need to remember that our self-love is based on the deep agape love of God and that Jesus’ selfless sacrifice saved us. Therefore, He never wants us to see ourselves as worthless! Listening and believing what He says about us helps us have the correct attitude of self-love. We know as Christians that we are not perfect but that God’s love can make us whole. Christian self-love admits our guilt and flaws, confessing and surrendering ourselves to Jesus. His grace never puts us down or shames us. He doesn’t want us to pick ourselves apart or become consumed with insecurities. Likewise, He doesn’t want us on the other end of the spectrum with an inflated, prideful ego. Pride is in us by nature. We have to work against it and not allow it consume us. You can be proud of who you are, that’s why we celebrate pride every June, but there is a different in having pride in who we are and being so prideful that it hurts others. Acknowledging His boundless love and what He has done for us should fill us with a humble spirit. Through Him, we see ourselves as his loving creation. Self-love comes through seeing ourselves as He sees us. That gives us the correct balance of humility and confidence to love ourselves correctly.
Our self-love will naturally waver from time to time. We can overcome, however, and free ourselves from negative thoughts. It takes persistence (it’s a lifelong process), knowing what He says about us in His Word, and a resolve to keep our eyes on Jesus.
We need to learn, value, and accept our identity in Christ. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We have to recognize we are not perfect. No one is perfect! We need to forgive and show compassion to ourselves. Self-love is about self-acceptance. We have to accept who we are before we can love who we are.
In the words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Can I get an amen up in here?
Moment of Zen: Hiking
I look forward to warmer weather and no snow so I can do some hiking again. There are ways to hike in the winter, but I don’t have the necessary equipment.
Pic of the Day
When I think of sexy 70s, my mind goes straight to Andy Gibb. I always thought he was sex on legs.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Burly Bears get together in Burlington with the theme 70s Sexy. I had not planned on going, but with some of the great suggestions I got, I think I will go tonight. I have my jeans and black boots with a Mr. Owl t-shirt that says, “How many licks?” Some of you have to remember those commercials. As a kid, I thought they were funny. Anyway, I thought the shirt would be cute and a bit suggestive. I’ll also have on my black leather jacket and possibly a hanky in my back pocket. I may have been born in the late 70s and not remember it, but I’m still a historian and know my gay history. Hopefully, it will be fun.