Debridement is the process of removing dead (necrotic) tissue or foreign material from and around a wound to expose healthy tissue.~surgeryencyclopedia.com.
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 time...now that I've gone to have my own wounds washed and found a way to start the healing process.