I stayed in varied places over the years after leaving the professorship, being a Christian pastor, not knowing how to get out, or, maybe, I did and did not welcome the gift of a new beginning. Sometimes we choose our known misery to the unknown. I was trained to live in fear of the unknown of change. And, see, since a teen, I had committed to being a pastor. That was the familiar. If I left, what would I do? Who was I outside this role? In this, life was suffering, thankfully not all, however. I am thankful for the many blessings I received in that role, and many wonderful beings that were a gift of presence, and I, hopefully, to many. Yet, an intellectual, a contemplative, and an inclusive man, who adores Buddha and Krishna and Jesus and gays and lesbians ..., found much resistance, and some very mean-acting Jesus people. I cannot blame Jesus, I cannot blame anyone, and do not want to. Fear leads people to do cruel things to others. I found many persons did not want Jesus, they wanted "our Jesus," a "Christian Jesus." I was once informed by a church leader to stop talking about the Jesus beyond Christianity, I said I would not. I kept on, and about half the congregation kept on doing what they could to push me beyond the borders of their little town, Fort Meade, Florida. Finally, I got out of the pastorate for good, in my early fifties. A ministry board at the local district level, of the United Methodist Church, Florida Conference, after the church I served voted for my return with a unanimous vote, told me, "You don't fit." They prayed for me, in a circle, a dead, fake feeling of prayer. The "heretic" is gone, they had gotten rid of me, apparently a threat to the status quo. My area superintendent, somewhat like a bishop in the Catholic Church, disagreed with the decision of the committee. He told my church he did not have the power to reverse it, which he did not. No one from the United Methodist Church leadership, local or Conference, called to check on my well-being, to provide moral support, or to express gratitude that I had served its churches twelve years. They just moved on, like I never passed their way. I moved on, too. One of the wisest things I ever heard was an Episcopal priest and friend, Ron Sutherland, once saying in chapel during my professorship at the college, "When something becomes an institution, its main goal is survival, not the truth." Well, I now am so thankful a group said, "You don't fit." I was never taught by my parents to fit in, and certainly the Jesus who had inspired me did not fit in.
Then, I spent about six years legally homeless, renting cheaply or receiving free board. I paid other living expenses through part-time work as a jail chaplain. I was living paycheck to paycheck, one day leaving the bank in tears, not knowing how I would make it to the end of the month. All became calm, when a voice spoke, "It's all going to be okay." I knew it would be, and it was.