Monday, March 29, 2010
It's the dissonance that gets me. I can live with paradox, irony, contradictions. In fact, so far as I can tell, they explain life. But I'm hung up on this specific dissonance: It has been eight (yes, that would be eight) years since I've been able to listen to my favorite music, the music that stirred and lifted my spirit for more than a decade. It was the music I had on in the car, at home, in my office, in my mind. A sweet mellow folk-music type Christian music emerged in the 80's with Marty Haugen, Michael Joncas and David Haas representing my favorite expressions. It was loving, gentle, expansive, gracious. And it was altogether too Peter, Paul, and Mary like for the girls. "Not that again," was a common refrain in our car. But I loved it. The music itself is beautiful, filled with gorgeous poetry, dynamic metaphors and images of lively life, generous reconciliation, and sccoops of courage. Two of the tapes (before CD time) actually wore out from overuse. You get the idea. When I left the parish I've told you about, I left that music behind too. Sadly, we used it there, some, so I had some awful associations that recurred every time it came on. But worst, most of all, it was the dissonance. The disconnect, profound and complete, between these songs that celebrated kindness and tenderness, generosity of spirit, a concern for justice and reconciliation, of unity and taking care of one another, in the spirit of Jesus and the horrible experience I had of church that belied all of these gracious gifts was too much to bear. Excruciating. Most of all, heart-breaking. Hearing a song, All Are Welcome, while living in an official church with silver-tongued charmers who, nevertheless, could not in eight years respond to any of my overtures, requests for conversation, who chose not to reach out to me in any way --- well, it was just too much. Clearly, I was not welcome. Now, a few things. I realize that the church is a lot bigger than the officiaries in one part of the world, in one smallish community. And I am beyond grateful to the 'church' that I've found here on Facebook and as a blogger who remind me daily that I DO belong to something loving, something generous and tender, Goddish, if you will. You all out there, those of you who are followers of Jesus, are now my church. And the ELCA Board of Pensions. You are my church. My only church. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also realize that I can move on (I'd sure better!!!) before hell freezes over, er, I mean, before somebody from this corner of the church makes a move in my direction. I am moving on, out into a wider expression of grace. And thank goodness for that. I also realize that I can be the one to move in their direction. I have done that but I'm sure I could do it some more. "Excuse me, I'm the lost sheep. You didn't come looking for me but I'm here and I'd like shelter from the storm, please." I could batter down the doors. But this is part of my confession. Be gentle with me, okay. I am waiting. Not because I must but because I may. I am waiting for a word. It's due not to bitterness, or hurt, I figured out --- although there has been plenty of that and it swings by on a regular basis. But I am waiting. For their sakes. To give them the opportunity to feel moved, perhaps humbled, perhaps compassionate, perhaps curious, to move toward a reconciliation. Lord knows I am "owed" apologies, scores of them. But I'm beyond that. I think the experience of being humble, of apologizing, of offering contrition is life-giving. It restores the soul. And, there's this. Before I can be part of this community here in this place I need to know if it is a community that can humble itself, turn itself outward, welcome the lost home. Now. I keep saying this and it is absolutely true. Finally, this is not about me. It is about the thousands upon thousands of "me's" who have been shunned, pushed away, shut up and shut down by the official officials of the church. It is about the deaf boys who were sexually abused by their priest. It is about the hundreds of women in Protestant churches in this country, and their families, who were sexually abused by their pastors. It is about the scores of men and women who have been screwed more figuratively by the officialdom of the church. It is about us all. We need to know, is the church a trustworthy community? Can we invest our hearts and souls with you? Who are you? Mean and vindictive, or humble and generous? I spent a small fortune purchasing all my favorite music from iTunes the other night. I made a playlist on my iPod and have started taking small steps to listen to it. Oh my god, it is so so painful. It is so healing. I love it, I curse at it. I sing at the top of my lungs. I weep. The dissonance. All are welcome? "We are many parts, we are all one body..." Really? Not me. Not a boatload of other folks I know. The world is filled with warm and generous souls. Some say they are followers of Jesus, some not, many are done with the church. Some are journeying on other paths altogether. It is their loving and happy company I keep these days. And yours, many of you readers who are Jesus' people, you are Christ to me. And all of you, all of you, you're the people I want to belong with! And, as I listen to these wonderful songs I know I need still to be part of you. Whatever we call ourselves, we are about the things that make for peace. There is no dissonance as I commune here with you. True confession: I like this music and I'm not going to let the dishonorable and duplicitous behavior of some define reality altogether. Nope. Not their right. So, if not everywhere, then here, and out among you, all are welcome!