Thursday, September 08, 2011
Feeling The Spirit Of Love
This evening I participated in a benefit concert at Club Jam in Salt Lake City to raise money for Dane Hall's medical bills. I wrote about Dane in a recent post. Last I heard we had raised $5,799, which was beyond our expectations. I also know at least $7,000 has been donated through other venues, and I know of at least three other fundraisers that are being done to help Dane, so maybe he'll end up with at least $15,000. That's still less than half of what he currently needs (and I assume his medical bills will continue to accumulate), but it's a start.
It was truly a great experience to be involved in tonight's fundraiser. So many people volunteered their time, talents, material goods, and money to help a poor kid that has been put into a bad situation by some bad people. There was a raffle, a silent auction, and, of course, the concert. It is so heart-warming to see so many people coming together for a common cause to help a guy that most of them (myself included) don't even know. That is truly the spirit of love, and I think that is what we are here on this planet for.
Some numbers were serious, some were funny; all were performed well. A friend of mine started with a medley of "Always" / "How Deep is the Ocean?" (one of my favorite songs) / and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." It was beautiful.
Another friend sang a really "kick-ass" rendition of "Come to Your Senses" from the Jonathan Larson musical Tick, Tick...Boom. A guy I didn't know sang "What a Wonderful World." Another friend sang a powerful version of a song I was unfamiliar with, "Perfect." I really liked it. I think it was written for the musical, High Fidelity, but was cut.
A friend wrote an original song he wrote called "I Will Follow You Down" (I think), two more friends sang "If Mama Were Married" from Gypsy, another friend and a guy I didn't know sang "In Whatever Time We Have" from Children of Eden, and a good friend sang "My Man" from Funny Girl.
There were some funny songs like "Lesbian Love Story" from The Wild Party, "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride" from I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, "I'm a Catholic" from Altar Boyz, and a parody version of "Superfreak" from Salt Lake Acting Company's production of Saturday's Voyeur.
One woman who sounded like Billie Holiday did an absolutely rock-solid version of "God Bless the Child." She was phenomenal! Two of my friends sang a touching rendition of "For Good" from Wicked, which made me cry for many reasons, and cast members from Pioneer Theatre Company's recent production of Rent sang "Seasons of Love," which we all joined in singing, and I felt the love in the room so strongly.
My friend emceed the evening, and he was both funny and poignant.
I felt such love this evening, and I really felt the Spirit. It reminded me of a similar time when I participated in a benefit concert 12 years ago to promote AIDS awareness. At the time, I was very much in the closet and had even quite recently been in a serious relationship with a woman. What struck me about that particular concert was very similar to what I felt this evening: that I could feel so much love in the room and how close I felt to the Spirit.
I remember finding it interesting at the concert 12 years ago that I felt such a great spirit among a high majority of gay people who are often persecuted by people for so-called Christian reason, and I remembering feeling more of a spirit of Christianity in that room than I sometimes felt I experienced from church or religion, where Christianity supposedly resides.
At the time, I wrote, "...I wondered, if some of those narrow-minded people [who condemn homosexuality] could have attended [this] concert and felt that love, would they change their attitudes? I mean, gay people are just like anybody else: they love; they hurt; some are nicer than others; some are more Christian than others (not to mention more Christian than some people who profess to be more Christian than them); and some are doing the very best they can.
"And I thought, would some of the members of my own church...be comfortable at this concert with all these gay people. And sadly, I realized the answer was no. ...it really made me think about what I stand for and what my church stands for and what other members of my church stand for and what we all profess to be [vs.] what we really are."
That concert 12 years ago truly remains one of the highlights of my life. It is one of the times in my life when I have felt the Spirit of God very strongly. I felt that same feeling this evening, although not to the same extent. I'm glad to see that some things have changed. For example, I know more members of my church now that would not have been uncomfortable in that environment than I did 12 years ago.
Or perhaps it is I who have changed. I was more judgmental towards other gay people then than I am now (probably because I was trying so hard to fight it within myself). I remember that concert 12 years ago was a great lesson to me about the goodness of people, especially of people that others sometimes judge to be wicked or sinful.
I think the reason events like these cause me to feel God's spirit so strongly is because there is so much love, caring, and unselfishness in abundance, and isn't that what Christ's message is all about? Love is the key to life. Caring for our fellow man is the key to life. Loving others as God loves us is the key to life, and when we do that, we draw closer to God because we are becoming more like Him.
I hope that, in spite of the bad things people do to one another, that people will never lose faith in the goodness of humanity. Yes, there are people among us who do terrible, terrible things, but there is so much goodness out there, too. There are so many good souls. I hope we never lose track of that.
Anne Frank, who had all the reason to lose faith in humanity, once wrote, "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death."
It is my fondest hope and dream that I am a force for good in this world. I hope we can all be that. I am an imperfect person with many faults. I can be selfish, lazy, and critical, but I pray that my life will touch others for good rather than bad; that I will lift others rather than tear them down; that my influence will make the lives of the people around me better rather than worse; that others' lives are richer for my being in them rather than worse. I am only one guy...a guy who makes a lot of mistakes...and I have no idea what influence I have on others, for either good or bad, but I sincerely hope when all is said and done that I will have left a mark of goodness and love on the world rather than something negative. I do not know if I am doing that, but I am trying to, and I am hoping I am.