#Home #AdventWord #stbsadvent
I woke up to the Advent Word of the day, “Home,” and had to smile. “Home” is how I describe the parish my son and I were introduced to about a year ago. Last Christmas Eve, we sat as observers wondering if this people group could really love their kids they way they seemed to during a chaotically, organized and adorable Children’s Pageant. Turns out they don’t only love the children that way, but they love the old people like me with a similar care.
In the months during Lent, we came to know, first hand, the love and authenticity of a Priest named Jerry who made it safe enough to open our hearts to the rest of the community… and many of them opened theirs back. I couldn’t be happier to call St. B’s “Home.” “Home” is the name of a song I wrote earlier this year, the first solo in many years that flowed almost without effort onto the paper, the truth of its words melting my own heart.
Over the months my son and I have grown, closer together and within this community. My Priest, Father Travis, has been more of a spiritual director than I’ve ever known and taught me so much about listening and speaking words that fear and shame so often use to suffocate me. He sat by my hospital bed and prayed, has knelt by me as I wept in his office, and prayed over Ethan through some difficult bullying issues he’s faced this fall. He and his wife really understand what it means to show up, and lean in to the pain. It doesn’t scare him, and he continues to nudge and challenge with great patience. Our interim rector, Father Christian, knows a depth of suffering I can’t imagine ever surviving, and yet through his own grief, has somehow been able to fill a huge gap in E’s life, keeping him company as a special friend at a ‘Doughnuts With Dads’ event, introducing him to a new book series, cheering for his basketball team and pounding some brisket at Martin’s!… Just being ‘with’ him as an older dude to talk football and such, and to hear things that I often tell him, but it seems to connect more when he says it.
It’s been a busy 48 hours at church, many services, lots of song and countless prayers. As I was home alone, I read Brennan Manning’s The Prodigal tonight and was reminded that even during a birthday celebration as huge as Christmas services are intended to be, that there are other hearts, like mine, that are weeping. Hearts that bleed beneath the faces that smile. Hearts who long to heal. And that not only can “safe homes” hurt, but sometimes it takes an extremely safe, loving and accepting home for the defenses to fall away enough to really feel the depth of the pain we carry.
As I walk, feeling the night air cooling from the earlier mid 70’s, my heart isn’t sure which way is up. It feels alone. It yearns to be held yet, but inured to deep aching, tightens to make way for more breaking.
The clouds floating overhead, limpid compared to the haze in my own eyes and mind. Fighting a war, like never before, that mostly feels as though God cares nothing about.
The silence juxtaposes the ‘hemming in,’ of which my priest speaks, with overwhelming, answerless dolor.
My “doer” roots strangle the efforts of the “be-er” that desperately longs to breathe.
Where is God? And if God is “with” me then why isn’t He stopping this pain?! I can’t stand it, I want to drown it. My sober heart can’t reason with the drunken world around it, a world of chaos and ache and grief that sits so heavily upon my chest.
What did I do, or not do, or is it because of who I am that the constant barrage of attacks continue. My soul, mind, heart, and now my body collapse, unable to keep moving, the noose tighter than ever.
Healing and provision are what I claim to want, but I don’t know what I expect, or need, other than a break for peace… yet that expectation has taken a turn to what seems a mere fantasy that will never come… not to me, not now or ever, in this war between the hope in which I LONG to believe and the cries of reality that deafen the truth and cloud the light so many at “home” seem genuinely to have known.
I wish I knew the answer, or could write the book, but soon as I did the formula would likely change. All I can do is give voice to the ouch so others who haven’t yet found theirs find a measure of relief in the, “me too.”