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  • I’m thinking about courage this morning. It comes in many forms. It is often displayed by individuals who are not necessarily big risk-takers, but in order to do what they have to do, go where they have to go, they choose courage over the powerful fear that is staring them in the face.

    I think of my Great Grandfather’s courage when he defied his parents and snuck off to join the army at age 13, during the Civil War, to be with his brothers and Step Father. The courage for him to stay the course for 3 long years in the midst of the bloodiest fighting in the history of this country. Even after his step-father was slain, and both of his older brothers were wounded, he continued on. I know he didn’t want to. I know he once went home with no intention of going back. But something inside got him back there, despite his fears, and he fulfilled a commitment.


    My father faced his impending demise with incredible courage. He made a decision to embrace the last year and a half of his life with gusto, to dedicate himself to love, and to those he loved, and he shared his journey with all of us. It would have been so much easier for him to just be bitter and bemoan his rotten luck and whither away. He chose the more difficult, but fulfilling, route of love, and went out like a shining light, lifting our hearts and infusing us with the joy of living, while he helped me to lose my fear of dying.


    I also think of the courage of my only son, J.B. The courage to stand up and be who he is, no matter what people might think or say, when few around him were doing so. The courage to let his parents know exactly who he is, despite how that might change their relationship to him. The courage of honesty. The courage to not let the thoughtless hatred shown by others throw him off his game for long. The courage to not be a victim, but to boldly embrace the joy of living, even when it is so difficult to do, when it would be easier to feel sorry for himself. The courage to go his own way. The courage of love.


    I’m blessed to be linked to these courageous individuals by blood and by relationship. Their stories give me strength to face my own fears and challenges, which are many, head-on instead of cowering from them and hiding safely within my fears.

    I also salute the courage of Barack Obama, to stand up and be the first president to come out for gay marriage. No matter what led him to this decision, what political calculations may have been involved, it took courage to do it. It would have been easier for him to skirt the issue and sit on the political fence that others have done so artfully. But he chose instead to take a stand, because it was the right thing to do. His choice might make a difference for justice and equality for generations to come.

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