Thursday, February 09, 2006

Be a lover not a fighter

Sorry for the long delay. Shout-out to m'new readers (Tink, know who you are).

So anyways, here's a sitch I've been wanting to write on for a week.

It was one of those pre-church fights - the kind on the drive there that's exacerbated by being awake too early on the weekend and the pressure of performing at church. Ministers know this well. Garrison Keillor says, and I'm paraphrasing:

It's not easy being a minister. To preach about love and mercy and look down at a woman who's known you through some pretty rough times, some of your worst moments, and some pretty terrible fights, including one that isn't quite over yet!

There was this disagreement over something minor that I don't recall, and there we were entering church separately (which of course the greeter noticed and commented on - yikes!), and sitting in our pew with all the stuff between us (both material and emotional). Pretty much taking up half the row. Pouting, pissed off, not so much ready to meet God.

Then picked up the bulletin and noticed the day's sermon title: "Hurt". First in a series about things called "Heart Attacks". Boy, my heart was under attack already that morning.

Separate hymnals, separate bulletins. Fidgeting through the Scripture, knowing what was coming - a bona fide genuwine sermon directed Right At Us.

And the rector talked about hurt - how most people who hurt others are wounded themselves. How we usually just lash out because of our own pain. How we can get through even the worst.

She told the story of Horatio Spafford, who wrote "It is well with my soul." And though it's not in our hymnal, we got handouts and sang it together. Most of us. I cried.

Then we inched closer and closer together until during the confession his hand was on mine.

And during the peace we just clung for dear life.

Poor people around us probably felt weird - or maybe they understood. We were acting out the sermon illustration for them, after all.

By the end...shared hymnal, arms locked for the final prayer. Head on the shoulder during postlude.

The hurt...not gone...but healing.

Got a long tangent on mutual subordination today in class. But you know, I think this may actually be the problem. It seems obvious especially when considering the situation. Primarily it's about hurt and misunderstanding and assuming the worst. It's taking offense when none was intended and being impatient and ungracious. It's stupid little things we could easily overcome if we just had the energy.

I'm glad Valentine's Day is coming up. Gave me an excuse to find a sappy card. To think about what would make him happy in an unexpected way.

And to set myself up to be so happy to be in love with my best friend no matter what may be done or not done for me. The gift is the relationship.

No expectations, okay? You hear that? Stop thinking of what you want. Think of what to give.

It's hard.


Mimi said...

Glad to part of the journey!
On hurt - "most people hurt others because they are hurting themselves" -
It just occured to me that this can be read in two ways, both poignant:
1 - people cause hurt to others because they are feeling hurt by others
2 - people cause hurt to others because they are causing hurt to themselves.
Mine, I suspect, is the latter. Ouch.

Anonymous said...

This is such a powerful post; thank you for sharing it. It's all too easy (for us and for others) to forget that we too fall into painful situations like these -- that we hurt as often, and as easily, as our parishioners do -- and that we can heal.

Bill Gnade said...

Poignant essay. Thanks.

When my sister died a few years ago, I asked my rector whether he'd be interested in serving at her funeral (she was not an Episcopalian). He agreed.

When it came to picking out the hymns, I wanted "It Is Well (With My Soul);" but not only had Fr. Lewis not heard of it, the choirmaster had to search the archives. Like you, we sang from handouts.

It's funny that my parish, which speaks of its music programs with conceit (almost), is unfamiliar with some of the more touching, humane (and at times, maudlin) hymns of Christendom. Is this the source for the "Frozen Chosen" epithet hurled our way, that our hymnal is staid and pompous, distant and cold?

I've no idea.