August 8, 2013:  A report submitted to the newsletter department of the World OutGames 2013 event in Antwerp, Belgium.
    At great personal expense and sacrifice, I registered for participation in the archery competition and traveled to Antwerp to participate in the third World OutGames.  I disclosed prior to my travel that I have the disability of high-functioning autism and, after asking whether it would be okay, that I would be participating in the ritual garb of my ministerial alter-ego, Sister Who (www.SisterWho.com).  At accreditation, I specifically asked whether there was any place to practice prior to the competition and I was specifically told that a single practice session would occur on Saturday, August 3, from 2-4:30 p.m. at the same location at which the competition would begin the following Tuesday morning.  I spent the usual three hours of preparation on Saturday morning, attiring myself in my ritual garb and applying the face-paint which is a primary component of that appearance.  I asked my hosts (with whom I had been matched by the hosted housing program of WOGA 2013) whether there would be any problem carrying my bow  to the practice session and their opinion was that there would not be any problem.  One of my hosts provided a ride in his car to the north sport-park location and I began searching for the archery practice session.  No one I encountered, however, knew  where the address provided by WOGA 2013 was located.  Through all of this searching for the address provided, my bow was unstrung and my arrows were locked within a case.  Suddenly I was surrounded by six police officers who demanded to know  who I was, what I was doing there, and so forth.  I informed them that I was an archery participant of the World OutGames looking for the practice session I had been told would occur somewhere nearby.  They said they had not heard anything about the World OutGames and were hesitant to believe that any such event existed.  For approximately an hour they surrounded me, speaking only in Dutch and providing very little explanation in English.  How I managed to avoid experiencing an autistic melt-down, I simply don't know, considering how  frightening this entire situation was.  Finally they said they would take me to the address identified as the location of the archery competition (which turned out to be either an incorrect or completely inaccurate address), then to the location of the opening ceremonies so that they could confirm that the World OutGames was in fact a real event, and finally they would take me back to where I was staying, because they could not tolerate me traveling around Antwerp with a bow that was not completely concealed (in which case, it would have been indistinguishable from someone carrying a rifle or other long gun).  Sitting in the back of a police vehicle when we arrived at the Opening Ceremonies location, they were able to locate a WOGA 2013 official who spoke to them in Dutch and failed to reassure or even acknowledge me at all.  Finally I was transported back to the place where I was staying.  I left my bow  and arrows there and traveled in ritual garb to the Rainbow Village area and then to the Opening Ceremonies, trying to refocus myself mentally and emotionally on more positive things than this terrifying experience.  When I finally arrived back at my hosted housing location, however, I discovered that the whole incident with the police was being broadcast within local evening news and that the news report included the opinion that appearing in public places while wearing face-paint was absolutely not allowed (which is not what I was told by the police).  At that point, I found that I had been so traumatized by the afternoon experience that I was too frightened to leave the building at all for the next two days.  I also realized that I would not have sufficient concentration to participate in the archery competition.   Consequently, at great additional expense and because I no longer felt safe anywhere in Belgium, I changed my plane ticket so that I could return to the US as soon as possible (which turned out to be Tuesday morning; by the time the competition started, I was already at the airport).  Because I did not actually participate in the competition, I left the participation medal behind.  I do not expect to ever travel to Belgium again.  Clearly Antwerp is not the diversity-tolerant and artistically supportive city it claims to be.  I am very glad to be home again, but I suspect it will be a very long time until I finish paying for my travel to Belgium.  Until then, it will not really be over, but rather will linger in my memory like a nightmare that refuses to end.  Sincerely, Rev. Denver NeVaar, MTS a/k/a Sister Who (www.SisterWho.com; www.DenverNeVaar.info)


August 25, 2013:  As Stones in the Stream
    Mottled and misshapen, unmoving and unmoved for longer than any remembers, yet in awareness forever growing and accumulating more memories than any single moment can hold--an entire lifetime is necessary.  In a long ago time, the stone lay in a field, surrounded by flowers with occasional attempts by vines to scale its modest height.  Then a particularly harsh winter fading to spring floods reshaped the land and the water found a new course.  Now the tiny trickle had grown to a steady stream; more abundant in spring, of course, but persisting even through hot and dry late summer, carrying the snow of distant mountains toward even more distant oceans.  No matter how turbulent and forceful the currents, however, the stone remained peaceful and unmoved, responding to the assault by giving the stream its song.  Indeed, without the stone, the stream would have no voice at all.  How absurd, therefore, the people passing by, presuming what they could make of the stone, without considering for even a moment what it already possessed.  "This could be an ornament in my garden!" one exclaimed.  "But then how would I continue to give song to the stream," the stone thought to itself.  "This could be used in the construction of my house!" another suggested, caring not that this could also make the stone invisible and incapable of any other contribution.  "This could be broken into a thousand small pieces to be polished and incorporated into jewelry!" yet another proposed, failing to see the beauty that was already present, even as the stone provided a step by which the river could be safely crossed.  Yet the greatest wonder that persisted, as the human and natural worlds churned all around, was the perfect peace which the stone maintained--as long as to its own self, it remained true.  How I envy that integrity and aspire to do as well.