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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Memoriam: Jon Whiddon

My friend Jon Whiddon passed away last night.

Jon was an artist. I’ve known Jon for many years, but I usually only saw him two or three times a year – usually at the Gay Spirit Visions conferences, sometimes at one of his art shows.

I’ve had a lot of heartfelt conversations with Jon over the years. Our last conversation was about the optimism he felt, even though he had been battling cancer of the esophagus and had been in chemotherapy for an extended time. Jon talked about keeping a positive outlook and being open to receiving blessings, attracting abundance to our respective careers – him to his artwork, me to my counseling practice. It was a very inspiring conversation with a big gentle man full of Spirit and love.

In July 2006, when I bought Jon’s painting “Forest Crow” and hung it, along with several other paintings by Jon, in my counseling office, this is what I posted here about it:

“Forest Crow” is, to me, a haunting, dream-like image. I have always felt an attraction to naked, autumnal trees, especially when seen against a grey sky. It’s an image that has appeared in my dreams ever since childhood, and to see it portrayed so vividly in a work of art – it truly spoke to something deep inside me.The crow in flight adds to the earthiness of the scene, suggesting to me the flight of the soul against the stark existential realities of life. Not that I find such realities unpleasant. I find a deep beauty in such starkness, and to me this painting reflects that beauty.

I grieve for the loss of my friend, and I hold his family and his loved ones in my prayers. I am grateful Jon is no longer in pain.

Top: Jon in September 2007, between chemo treatments

Middle: “Forest Crow” at Jon’s 2006 art show in North Georgia

Bottom: Jon at Joyce Kilmer National Forest, Thanksgiving 2007


Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Fullness of Joy

The sign in front of First Christian Church of Decatur,
the church which provides office space
(“the church without walls”)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


sitting in a comfy chair in the coffee house
sipping a double-shot espresso
reading the book my book club is reading next
“Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None”

I realize I have become a cliché
the unshaven intellectual reading Nietzsche in a coffee house

that’s OK
I’ve been far worse

~ Grateful Bear

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Solzhenitsyn: A Grateful Heart

“It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirring of good,” says Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through parties, states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, either, but right through all human hearts. So, bless you, prison, for having been in my life.” With Solzhenitsyn as our inspiration, let us take a moment to find the gift of one difficult thing we have faced and give thanks for its teachings.

~ From the book, A Grateful Heart, edited by M. J. Ryan


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bear in the Mountains

Had a great time at the Gay Spirit Visions Winter Meditation Retreat (Feb. 1-3) in Highlands, North Carolina. Here I am (center), with my friends Donnie (left) and Michael (right), in front of a wall of mountain laurel. The men who attended the retreat were very loving and responsive to the workshop I offered on Sacred Chant and Movement, and the weekend as a whole was very relaxing and spiritually renewing.