Wisdom from a man whose last name I forget.

His first name was Bill.

I met him at a retreat center called Kirkridge in  Pennsylvania  back in ?.

Was it in 1991, or 1995, I cannot even remember the year.

I know that the month was January for every year in that  month Kirkridge hosted a retreat for Christian gay men.

Bill was from Chicago.  He was a delightful man  (and of course I had a crush on him).

It was a safe crush because he had a boyfriend back in Illinois -  a relationship which I respected.

But we stayed in touch by 'phone.

I remember one call in which I laid out all my frustrations at being an Episcopal Rector in Pittsfield. MA.

Bill cut to the quick.  He said "Remember Michael that you are a human being, not a human doing".

Good Lord above, I needed that!

After this when I had not heard from Bill in a while I called him. The 'phone was answered by an unfamiliar voice.

I asked to speak to Bill.  The response was silence until the person at the other end asked "and who are you?"  (It was Bill's partner).

I explained who I was.  Fortunately Bill had talked to him about me.

Then came the bitter blow.    This good man Bill had been killed in a car accident on a Christmas Eve, when his car had hit a patch of ice.

I wept buckets. His bereaved partner wept too.

Dear Ann P. of Pittsfield MA will  remember that I made a late night 'phone call to her and blubbered away on the 'phone, knowing that she had a good and non-judgmental ear.  (Thank you Ann).

All these years later I am sad that I cannot remember Bill's last name.    I am sad that I have lost the only photo' of Bill which I once had. I can see him in my mind's eye.

Even as I write I have tears in my eyes.

Even as I write I am grateful for Bill's wisdom, and for Ann's listening ear.

He said  "Remember Michael that you are a human being, not a human doing". Good Lord above, I needed that!


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