Gender Equity and Reconciliation International

Ohio Chapter of Illuman

Gender Equity and Reconciliation International post-training reflection

Gender Equity and Reconciliation International

By Charlie Myking & Beth Strand

Get on your knees and thank God for the opportunity to experience his love in a way you have never felt it before!

Those words, spoken to me in Dec. of 2012, were instructions from my A.A. sponsor, Jack. My daughter had just committed suicide. I called him when two men who were with me offering support, insisted that I make the call. After that excruciatingly painful talk with Jack, he closed our conversation with those words. I did not hesitate, nor did I ask why. I hung up the phone and invited the two men who had been with me for several hours, sharing my deep grief, to join me on their knees, in my living room and pray that prayer. We did!

From the numbness of a grief-stricken heart those words were uttered with little but blind obedience to the directive from my sponsor. Any moment of thought would have brought a scream of protest. I’m so thankful now for the trust I had to pray the prayer and not ask why.

My daughter Kelsey (Raven to all her friends) was deeply immersed in the LBGTQ diversity reconciliation movement actively raising its noisy fist in Logan square, Bucktown and Wicker Park in Chicago. “Bash Back” was armed with the poignant ire of 20-somethings tired of a stereo typified and misinformed understanding which gave way to marginalization through fear. She was a champion for social justice that asked to be heard and felt and seen. Above all, they were loving, kind, and beautiful people, not freaks.

Confused by words from those she trusted to uphold freedom and acceptance for who she was and who they all were, Kelsey rallied, protested and wrote for change. Dark nights of the soul often haunted her when there seemed no way to bridge the insurmountable canyon between love and prejudice. Despair claimed her young life at 23 when nothing seemed to be working.

This August, attending the Gender Equity and Reconciliation International Conference (GERI) in New Mexico, it was as if my daughter appeared in a new light, a kind of free Raven greeting us in the land of enchantment. Perched on a rock at the precipice of an overlook so beautiful it took my breath away, she greeted us as if to say, “thanks for doing this dad, so glad you’re here.” My deep and painful personal struggle with “could I have done something to stop the tragedy?” comes and goes, but this day, this place brings fresh reassurance that her voice is alive and heard. The cry for peace, the pain of inflicted shame, the deep fear of being rejected, set aside, and discarded as unfit, is rising from her ashes.

Never have I been in a place so suitable for discovery, disclosure and demonstration like the container created by G.E.R.I. The ritual, exploration, invention, interaction, safety, compassion and communion present at each encounter have opened me to a new understanding of this ancient problem.

The future of humanity will be decided not by relations between nations, but by relations between women and men.
~ D.H. Lawrence

I can’t expect the world to hear what I have not spoken. I can’t expect the world to understand what I can’t explain. I can’t expect the world to go where I have not journeyed. This path is new, the way yet tested, but love is here. Let us join hands and go together. Thank you, Will Keepin, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Satyna Institute and Cynthia Brix, Interfaith Minister and Co-Director of Satyana Institute for the years of work and the great love you bring!

Much gratitude,

🤗 Charlie & Beth

Charlie and Beth live in Dublin, Ohio. Charlie is active in Ohio Illuman and founded the monthly council which meets in Belleville. Both he and Beth recently attended the GERI Conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico which was co-sponsored by Illuman. Together they plan to embark on a year-long intensive study with GERI.