All I really know is that I don’t know

In a recent interview with the film star Greta Gerwig, who grew up in the Sacramento UU Church, she said, “I think I keep returning to a UU Church again and again because it resonates with something deep inside of me that feels that all I really know is that I don’t know … (it is) the best place for me to experience the fullness of the sentiment of not knowing.” As a human being, a writer, a minister, a gardener I become increasingly aware of the power of not knowing.

At the New York Writer’s Institute this summer a number of highly acclaimed writers who work in various genres spoke about how important it was for them, as they write, to not know what happens next. The real juice often comes from characters that do something unexpected or a slant that brings a perspective to their work they never imagined; approaches that shift their understanding of what they are trying to do. This “not knowing” brings life to their creation. Of course at some point you do know, but a mistake many writers make is to overwork passages. This often extracts the juice. Yet, it is also true that this magic, the passage of grace, can open as you delve deeply into the process of revision. When something doesn’t feel quite right, authentic, fresh, you move into it from as many angles as possible until its inner coherence, logic and beauty reveal themselves.

The garden at Three Oaks is in its fourth season. The basic design is in place. The foundation plantings provide a structure from which all kinds of surprises emerge. This year the old fashioned Nicotiana Alta, (related to the tobacco plant), has stationed itself in an intersection of the garden I’d never have guessed would create such wonder. I certainly wouldn’t have chosen that spot. Its profligate nature casts seeds in all kinds of places. The triangle of five six-foot plants with trumpets of white blooms releases a mesmerizing scent at twilight when the hawk moths love to dive deep into its blossoming center. The white flowers glow in the dusk.

It surprises me that Charles and I are making plans to get married in California in November. What’s even more surprising is that we are deliberating about how to elevate the issue of marriage equality in Kansas so that it is not another progressive value that’s sidelined. This civil rights issue deserves a place in our public discourse. Lambda Legal, a national organization, which often works with the ACLU to file lawsuits for marriage equality told me this week that Kansas was a state that they would not consider offering legal counsel to on this issue. Kansas is in the tier of states they categorize as hopeless.

I do not feel hopeless. Do you? Will you help us to advance the progressive ideals of equality for all people? Can we become the beacon of hope that brings strength and optimism to the people who lament the erosion of human rights in this beautiful state? I don’t know what’s possible, but I dearly would like to find out. I am willing to bet there are many sweet surprises that will pop up if we liberal Kansans work and dream together. Let us find out what’s possible when we do not have second-class citizens.

Michael

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