Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spiritual Debridement

Debridement is the process of removing dead (necrotic) tissue or foreign material from and around a wound to expose healthy

It's Sunday.  My family is flung in different directions.  I am not obligated in any way to go to the church I have attended for the last 18 years.  Whereas I'd normally lay in bed until the last possible moment wanting to avoid another week of being bullied from the pulpit I get out of bed with a sense of interest and hope.  I'm going elsewhere this morning.*

I pull into the parking lot and find my way to the entrance.  I am a few minutes late but I am welcomed and I quietly enter the back of the sanctuary with another couple who is also late.  I find a seat in the back and orient myself as the minister finishes morning announcements.

I have met this man in another context and he has impressed me with his gentle spirit, his inclination to engage deeply in a conversation with people who would normally be overlooked, his sincere attention to and value of people's individuality.  It's why I've decided to take a chance here this morning.  What I have seen of his character stands in stark contrast to the man who has led my congregation.

The service begins.  The soloist and her accompanist lead, followed by a hymn.  I am reminded by the hymn of where I stand, what has made my participation possible.  A unison prayer follows and though sometimes such things can become rote the phrases contained in the prayer peel away a layer of self-protection, expose my heart.  I feel a tear well up.  A speaker stands and shares the origin of the very phrase.  Another layer is revealed.  Another tear falls.

It is time for the passing of peace.  I quickly wipe my eyes.  I am offered a hand and a smile.  Peace be with you.  I receive the gifts.  I return my hand, and a damp-cheeked smile.  And also with you.  There is another hymn, my grandfather's favorite.  He always wept as he sang it.  Now it's my turn.  I can feel something....I feel.  That all by itself is an almost forgotten sensation in a sanctuary.  For so long I have had to erect defenses before walking in on a Sunday morning lest I be blindsided by an arrogant man who berates his flock.  I thought somehow I could still manage to worship around it but it has become impossible.  Until now, I didn't realize how impossible.

The hymn concludes, the congregation sits, the readings begin.  Next the pastor rises.  He smiles, exits from behind the lectern and begins his message.  There is no belligerence.  There is no attempt at manipulation.  There is no indication that he is the beginning and the end of wisdom.  There is acknowledgement of the pain that exists in the world, a reminder that we are called and empowered to be facilitators of healing, and an exhortation to do so with grace and gentleness for the wounded are already weakened.  He warns us that we may be wounded in the process ourselves.  My own wounds are throbbing now, not because I've received new ones, rather the ones inflicted in the past are exposed and cleansed with gently spoken truth.

The message concludes.  During the final hymn I am able to sing every word by heart and mean them.  The blessing is given and we are dismissed in peace.  Go in peace, heal in grace, speak truth in love.  I remember being able to do that once upon a time.  For the first time in longer than I care to recall I feel hopeful that it may be possible again in that I've gone to have my own wounds washed and found a way to start the healing process.

*Yes, I know I am never obligated since it's a free country and it's absurd to tolerate some of what I've tolerated.  It's complicated and I tried to make it work but I'm finally moving on.


Bijoux said...

I sincerely hope you are moving on! I can't imagine you putting up with any sort of crap for that long!

Hoping peace continues to find you.

Anonymous said...


Hilary said...

Thanks for sharing such a moving experience with us. I'm happy for you, M. :)

Stephen Hayes said...

It would seem that your spiritual journey was derailed for a while but you're back on the right track. I wish you well.

Beach Bum said...

Not big on organized religion. Yeah, I know that is a massive cop out but the small and friendly churches I attended as a kid have disappeared.

The mega-churches that have taken their places are so big and impersonal while what smaller churches I know about tend to have extreme positions that make me unwelcome.

Eric (Bubba) Alder said...

Often it is through the examples of others that we feel that spirit - a much stronger impression than any sermon can provide.

Daryl Edelstein said...

I am very happy for you... if a person chooses to worship it should be in a place with others who feel the same .. I am glad you've found that place .. hugs

Suldog said...

It's a terribly lovely feeling to realize that you may have found home. I hope you have!

Jocelyn said...

Writing-wise, this is one of your best pieces, as it's so controlled and thoughtful. I really enjoyed reading this.

Your experience sounds like what my mom went through when I was growing up, only she was the church secretary at a church with a belligerent, often mean, pastor. Her break with that church signaled years of my parents moving to a couple other churches around town. Now my mom doesn't go to church at all, and I look back and hope that all the pain she went through in trying to find a spiritual home was worth it, especially as she ultimately decided no church was doing it for her.

As you probably already know, I am very conflicted over organized religion. I see all it can provide, but the stories of hurt and hypocrisy come up too often for my taste. What makes me so glad here is that you know you want a church home, and you're taking action to find a place that feels, indeed, like home. May this place continue to bring you peace.

Craig said...

Yeah, those brow-beatings are never fun, are they?

Here's hoping that you're on your way to a place where you can come into regular contact with the One who made you for Himself, and where you can be fed with His Love and Truth. . .

silly rabbit said...

Perhaps in the first church, you needed that course years ago, like a child who needs a firm hand. But you grew. Your loyalty turned to obligation, which is not a real investment. Your heart knew it and searched.
I am glad for you that your heart and this kind man led you to a new location... where it sounds like you belong. This offers a better investment opportunity that will bring new growth and peace.
Yay! Thank you for sharing this!

Cricket said...

Grandparents have a lot to do with it for me, too.

I have a lump in my throat now.

Yes, peace be with you, and you know how sincerely I mean that.

Logophile said...

Oh honey,

Can I just tell you how insanely grateful I am that you took this step and found a place where truth was spoken in love and where grace was ministered to the hearers.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm glad to hear you have found a place to heal and be at peace.

Craver Vii said...