I want to tell people about a dear friend of mine whom I've known and played tennis with for the last sixteen years. About a dozen years ago, he began to move toward a religious calling. Being a flamboyant gay man and a man about town, many of us questioned where all this was coming from.
But it soon became part of Tony's nature to open gatherings with a heartfelt prayer, and throw several "amens" and "thank you, brother" into everyday conversations. Nobody, least of all me, minded, even though there was the occasional rolling of the eyes. We all figured he had fallen into the deep end and was slowly sinking, but he was sinking with a smile on his face so everyone I know supported him in it. Then a few years ago -- or was it only last year? I swear I'm getting too old to remember -- he let several of us tennis buddies know he had enrolled in a program to become a clergyman.
I was not overly surprised. I admired the fact that he was serious about chasing his dream.
Today I received the following message from him on FB:
Hi FB Family, I will be doing my first Sermon this Sunday December 26th, 2010 at "The Center for Spiritual Living - Fairfield/Suisun City, CA - 1200 Civic Center Drive. The Service starts at 10:30AM. I am very excited and if you are in the area please join me!
I'm not a church going man, however, I would dearly love to attend, simply to give support to this beautiful man who has spent a decade chasing a dream, and has now achieved it.
I believe -- no, I know -- it takes great courage to risk everything to follow the path in your heart. And it takes even more courage to follow that path over all the obstacles, letting nothing lead you astray.
So today I'd like to acknowledge one of the bravest people I know, Tony Bradford. Knock 'em dead, Tony, err... or what every you clergymen call it. My hat is off to you. Bravo!!