I met Donald many years ago in Upstate NY. He will be 89 next week. I visit from time to time and we keep up a regular correspondence. I send him cards and photos from UK and France. He replies on wafer thin 'air mail' paper, or stationer decorated with stars and stripes and writes in meticulous loopy handwriting. He is the historian in a village in upstate New York, where he still writes a regular column for the local paper - on an old typewriter, resisting all attempts to persuade him to use a computer. Don is a real old fashioned gentleman, neat and courteous - a regular churchgoer, with strong views and opinions but no harsh words about anyone unless they have given him good reason. I tease him when I ring - "come on Don, tell us the gossip on the streets....." he always chuckles as he tells me he doesn't have any.
I received a letter from him recently that really made an impression on me.
"My church has fallen under the state mandate of same sex marriages being performed... Father A's fervour towards "opening up" is most reflected during the Holy Week of Easter, at which time any person, be they male or female, young or old, white or coloured, be invited to become baptized regardless of denomination, or who may be delinquent of any denomination, or who many choose this sacrament as a means of returning to church.....whilst I personally abhor even the thought of same sex marriage, I feel I must try coming to grips with myself in believing such unions be permitted existence.
If both partners, in conscience, believe they are doing the right thing in the face of their God as they understand him, then who am I to judge their right to wed?
There is a well known prayer that begs assistance and eventual serenity in accepting those things we can never possibly change. If I can in some spiritual way, accept without reservation, the presence of someone or something I could never change, even someone I dislike vehemently, this just might be the discovery of the profoundest meaning of humility that I have never before experienced. "