Archive for the 'Forgiveness' Category



27
Apr
10

graciousness in the subdivision

This afternoon I received a very gracious apology letter from my neighbors, so I went over to meet them. They explained that they did not know the sound penetrated beyond their home, apologized profusely and invited us to let them know whenever we find the music or merry-making too loud. I, in turn explained how the deep base without any lyrics or melody devastates one’s nervous system, creating huge amounts of adrenalin. The pretty young woman understood and offered additional apologies, while her cats peered curiously at me from behind the stair railing.

Referring to a sentence in last night’s blog, which she found offensive, she asked  that I not make assumptions about their values and character without knowing them. This is a perfectly reasonable request, one that resonated immediately in my peace and justice brain. I am in the wrong and apologize publicly. My reference to their drug of choice and case of beer was inappropriate and unkind. As it turns out they are lovely young kids trying to start a life together. We are just a thousand generations apart. We agreed we would work together and parted in grace. One truly cannot judge a book by its cover, or even by its title sometimes.

So, to you my good neighbors, I apologize and welcome you to the neighborhood.

They have cats. We have cats. Already we have something in common.

24
Feb
10

forgiveness = grace

This afternoon, Graceful Spirit, the young pastor of our church came to visit adopted daughter. It was a total delight to spend this time together…a blessing. Once again I see God’s answer to my prayers coming not as I expect but creatively and constructively…all in a pattern for growth and nourishment.

I learned something that I didn’t know when I wrote my last posting, Forgiveness 70 x 7. In talking with Graceful Spirit, AD explained the reason for the visit she had made on Sunday to our former church…the visit I said I did not fully understand. I still don’t understand the personal underpinnings, but I now understand that AD’s purpose was to show the congregation, in a simple act of confession, that forgiveness was the doorway to freedom. She wanted folks to see that being sorry for hurting others was not so hard to do. She was modeling it, living it.  Seen in this light, she was God’s voice…a vessel of love: Grace

24
Feb
10

forgiveness 70 x 7

Last Sunday, we all went back to our former church to support adopted daughter in her desire to address the congregation on the importance of maintaining loving relationships above disagreement. We brought her in a wheel chair with portable oxygen and still the effort was physically considerable for her. I don’t completely  know where this desire has its genesis in her own 48 years. I don’t completely know because AD is a very private person. She does not talk extensively about her feelings in connection with her life growing up in an extended family of wealthy immigrants. I have heard stories, and I know the recent past, but there is not a lot of connection along the emotional road from there to here. And curiously enough…I am a confidante.

So I don’t know all that went in to this effort to speak to the congregation and I don’t understand her request for forgiveness, but it seemed to resonate with some of the people there. The pastor responded by asking forgiveness in behalf of the congregation. I have no way of knowing how the congregation felt about that, but it was an important step for the pastor to take. It was a very dramatic and meaningful time. Ad is now quite exhausted by the effort and I am wandering along the path, not quite with it and not quite without. While 99% were glad to see and receive AD, not everyone was glad to see Big Dawg and me—probably most, but certainly not everyone.

We knew that would be the case going in, and were especially aware when sitting directly across from us was person X,  whose dark and grim demeanor was much the same as it had been a year ago, on Pentecost Sunday, 2009. That was the day the congregation exploded, giving us a clear and painful message that we were not to be included into membership. Not only was X’s demeanor the same, but  X was sitting in just about the same proximity to us as last year! It was eerie and unsettling, but we persevered. Just before AD was wheeled up to the front of the church to speak, person X got up and left the sanctuary. I found this action abruptly rude, careless, egoistic at best and a slap in the face of the Body of Christ at worst.

I did not think about this incident until late in the day when I could put aside my public persona and be at home. The incident began to haunt me as memories of the past year flooded my heart and mind, giving free rise to my autonomic nervous system’s response to remembered pain and agony. We had become scapegoats at that church for nine months. Although I’d come closer to God through that suffering, it was at times extremely painful, bringing up childhood experiences of rejection as well as a string of adult experiences. The forgiveness I’d come to in the past several months was being tested and I was teetering on the brink of despair and self-loathing for about  36 hours—teetering and nearly falling from acceptance of God’s love. I could only breathe YHWH and let the Spirit intercede (Romans 8). By Tuesday, I was climbing back up the ladder and leaving goats behind. Today I find this passage in Richard Rohr’s meditation  (February 24) and it helps me put persons like X, as well as goats, in perspective:

We have always needed to find a way to deal with human anxiety and evil by some means—and it was invariably some practice other than forgiveness or healing. We usually dealt with human anxiety and evil by sacrificial systems of some sort, and that has largely continued to this day. (Exclusion, torture, war, segregation, class division, prejudice, and racism would be its common forms.)

Historically, we moved from human sacrifice, to animal sacrifice, to various modes of seeming self-sacrifice. But even in self-sacrifice, it was not usually the ego self that we sacrificed, but most often the material self as its vicarious substitute. The physical body became our usual scapegoat instead of the real problem which was the ego—a rather clever game of smoke and mirrors. Meanwhile the ego has remained “scot free” and off the hook for most of Christian history, even at the highest levels of church.

Whether you agree with Rohr’s analysis wholly, in part, or not at all is not my concern. What is important to me today is that …the rivers did not overwhelm me and I was not burned.

03
Feb
10

thought for the day

Just a thought for the day before I leave for Cincinnati:

Reconciliation

An act of reconciling or the state of being reconciled.

The process of making consistent or compatible.

Reconciling

To bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent

To reconsecrate

To restore

01
Oct
09

moving on

Last night BD and I spent 2 hours giving an exit interview to the mediators hired by our former congregation.  It was challenging to condense all that happened for us, and to us, in a way that appropriately conveyed the enormous amount of stress we lived with since selling all we had (otherwise known as downsizing), moving to a much smaller house, (while still paying mortgage on the bigger house) to Come Follow Jesus (with them) when we were unaware that the invitation didn’t really include us, a same-gender-covenanted-couple. But we did it by the Grace of God, who desires all things whole and beautiful. The mediators (a man and a woman) were respectful, considerate and gracious, and though professionally low-key, there were a few responses of considerable empathy and/or dismay that were audible. It was helpful to know that what we were sharing of our experience was hitting hearts and minds together…both/and, rather than either/or.

I, of course, apologized for having made my (previous) assessment of our being an after-thought (posted 9/30/09), which was promptly returned with an apology of their own! Their job is to uncover the pieces and put them together in a coherent enough whole that can serve them in making recommendations toward a healing center for the congregation. This is a tall order and we pray that they are able to bring a semblance of healing and wholeness, but we don’t hold an expectation that this church will  embrace an Open and Welcoming/Affirming stance any time soon. My half-full view or educated observation? Time will tell. I have a lot of opinions, but I am also glad to admit error…and I will be most happy and delighted if I am in error here.

Mennonites as a group, do not speak readily of their thoughts/feelings. It’s an ethnic characteristic found in many rural communities as well. BD, although not ethnically Mennonite, comes from a rural background, understands this and has her own habit of unspoken thought. I, on the other hand come from a Middle Eastern heritage and we have a lot to say, even if we don’t know what we are talking about! (I think I’ve harnessed that last part, pretty well though, I hope!) We are openly passionate…unless depressed. Yes, I did most of the sharing, but I can tell you that when BD verbalizes something from the past that really hurt her to the quick, it is very powerful. And so, between the two of us, we put our story out there quite credibly. Praise God!

At the end of the time together the mediators thanked us for sharing our story…i.e., being vulnerable, and we assured them that vulnerability went with the territory, and not to give us more credit that we were due. This was CLOSURE for us…we were finally handing the pitiful story off to persons who perhaps may make a difference. We wanted it to be clear that we would not be telling this story again (hopefully never, ever again), but that we would like to know the outcome of their work with the congregation; we would answer questions, consider meetings, but never again dip back into those painful times on a personal basis. Although we don’t expect Open and Welcoming to be the end result, we hope for a resolution that allows us to visit at will…without tension and questions hanging silently heavy in the air. Accountability is rock-bottom in all of this, but we don’t expect it from everyone, just the major players. That will be enough for us. There are many people there that we love and miss…many who miss us as well. What we want is a semblance of Shalom.

Today I am happy to be free of the burden. We have closure for ourselves. We can journey forward where the Spirit leads. Our desire is One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God. In the immortal words of Rodney King:

Can’t we all just get along?

30
Sep
09

codicil to last post

My last post contains an error that has been graciously pointed out to me by two friends (currently still in my former congregation), that it had always been the intention of the leadership and mediators to include all of us who have left, and especially BD and me. Although the congregation had talked of mediation early on and had many months to plan and hire a team, they didn’t get around to approving and acting on the hiring of a team until September 20 (10 days ago). Naturally, this leaves the team with a very tight deadline and the inevitable errors and omissions common to working at warp speed when slow and steady is best. Much as I’d like to fall on my sword and beg forgiveness for my quick assessment that BD and I were afterthoughts in this process, my sympathy lies with the mediators, and  I see this as one more instance of the failure of leadership to initiate,  and see a project through in a positive and timely manner.  What I see throughout my time there…and now this effort to telescope pain and heartbreak going back too many years into a single week is… fear. I will leave it to those directly involved to consider if this is so and if it is, why is it so? Aren’t there many scripture verses about fear and faith being oil and water?

As for me and BD…we are ready to say our piece one more time tonight and we will do so truthfully, openly, with no parsing of words or thoughts. It will be our view of what happened to us. After that, we dearly hope this will be the end of revisiting the disaster for us…unless there is a sea-change over there and then we can rejoice, hold hands and maybe, maybe be: One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, celebrating One God together.




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