It’s been a while since I have felt well. A nasty infection kicked off the ugly trifecta of colitis, fibromyalgia and migraine to leave me battered, behind and annoyed at the limits of the body. I kept things going, by a hair… courtesy of Cipro, health services and Toradol, but not without a lot of agony. Note that I am getting all of my complaining done right up front.
But now I am feeling back to normal. In fact I feel great. Full of energy and vigor. Back to normal and ready to get back to the path. I must confess that January really threw me for a loop. Does anyone like hearing they are a judgmental, closed minded, know nothing? Because that’s what I found out about myself. Sigh. I know I don’t MEAN to be, but the sad truth is that after my daughter decided to convert to Islam and I stopped running away from God, I wanted to only hear the nice Episcopal voices that made me comfortable and safe. God is merciful and gentle, for a while, he let me get away with that. January and Lafayette Square showed me exactly how small my box had become.
I suppose it’s OK to like doing things your own way, to want to have the liturgy just so, to take it uber seriously, to be in a smaller community based church that has robust children’s programs and retains an ability to be pastoral to nursing home and homebound parishioners. BUT, I couldn’t believe the amount of discomfort I felt in being in a church that had a completely different flavor. Rather than finding joy in what was there, an urban based mission church, with a prophetic voice at the altar, and programs aimed at more diverse constituencies, I spent a lot of time feeling panic at the lack of what I was used to. I’ve given this a lot of thought of course. Importantly I don’t think St.John’s Lafayette Square was in error in any way, though probably a key learning for me is that I need to serve in a smaller, more community building parish versus a large city church. But maybe another lesson is that it is time for me to stop clinging to the comfort of “my way”. A priest of a church as broad as ours has no business crouching down and holding on so tightly to one right way of doing things. You can’t be a parishioner and a priest at the same time. Lightbulb.
Seriously, what am I so afraid of? As unpleasant as the experience of being so out of my element was, it was one of the most valuable I’ve had. I am still thinking if how fascinating God is. How clever. How else could he have gotten me to so utterly understand my incompetence in this arena? If there is one thing I feel he wants to impress upon me, it’s my utter lack of knowledge and expertise at this moment. Not to humiliate me, but to shake me out of talk mode and into listening mode. Hard habit to break when you’ve been leading others for years. But that’s not what he needs me to do right now. Just to underscore this, on every interaction I have had at church lately, from leading the prayers to serving at the altar, I am bound to miss a key piece of information, be a moment late, misunderstand, be slow on the uptake, and basically make some kind of spectacular mistake to make me feel utterly small and useless. It would be infinitely worse if I didn’t feel the laughing presence of God at my side, as if to say, “what did I tell you about being a blank slate now!? You=Beginner!”
I can only swallow my embarrassment and grin. If God’s laughing, even at you, it’s impossible not to go along.
So, things are good, as weird as it may sound. Even as I sense I am being put back in Basic Training after some kind of respite, it feels like progress.
Winter is over, Spring is here, Easter is coming and the world stirs. I believe.