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Basement Epiphany

By Tina Rae Collins ~

This past Saturday night my son Seth had a going-away party for himself with some of his friends. (In a couple of weeks he's going to Wuhan, China, to teach at the university that employs his cousin Jamey.) I went down into the basement occasionally to get some cider and a snack (especially the yummy ham and cream cheese rolls a guy named Chris brought). I was watching "Hot Pursuit" in my room when Seth came and said his friends wanted me to join them for a game of Crimes Against Humanity.

Several men and women, mostly heterosexuals but at least two gays--in their twenties, thirties, and forties--filled the basement, and everybody seemed to be having a good time. I got a little high, so after a time I began to wax philosophical. I looked around at the partying group with a critical eye. I thought about how, over the course of the evening, I had heard "bad words" and "inappropriate" conversation; and I had also, horror of horrors, participated in alcohol consumption and "fellowshipped" homosexuals! I wondered how I might be viewed by my former Christian peers, being that I am 63 years old and participating in "sins" with these younger people rather than being a "good example" to them. And I thought to myself: What have we done here tonight? We have shared food and drink. We have laughed hard. Our hearts are light, and not a single hateful word has been spoken. We harmed no one, and we blessed one another with acceptance, tolerance, and love. Even I, an old grandmother, was granted the same reception and approval as everybody else!

At that point my heart was filled with love for every person in that basement. I felt it deep down in my chest cavity, rippling through my inner being. I decided everybody in my presence was beautiful and perfect. Their physical bodies were perfect. Their behavior was perfect. Their very being was perfect. I felt amazing empathy toward them all. I also recalled a time when I would have set myself apart from them and considered myself to be better and closer to God. But in that moment I recognized them as humans just trying to make it through life and grabbing all the joy and sharing all the friendship they can. They were there to say to my son, "We love you, and we will miss you." They are good people.

And on a Saturday night, at a basement party designed to drink up Seth's special beers and wish him well in his new life in China, I was filled with more love and compassion for my fellow man than I ever experienced on a Sunday morning in a church service. Whether we join in particular activities with others is not the issue--to each his own. What is important is that we come to the knowledge of truth: we are one.


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