We arrived at church yesterday, greeted by old friends with the words, “Welcome to the funeral.” I mean, it’s not exactly the most cordial of expressions, especially when there wasn’t actually a real, live body to pay our respects. But going into the morning, we knew that a death of sorts would happen, the kind that involves a splintering divide with fighters on two distinct corners of the boxing ring. Names would be called and fingers would point, punches would be thrown, and in the end we’d be left to see which arms were raised in victory and which shoulders would slump in ultimate defeat.
Neither the details of the match nor of its ultimate outcome are necessary for you to know, but I will say this: my team lost.
We all wondered if it would happen, but we didn’t think it possible, we didn’t believe it’d ever actually come to this point. We couldn’t imagine those four walls ever housing the rage and hatred that seemed to ooze out of its pores yesterday afternoon, in an atmosphere that reeked distastefully of the vengeance of Corporate America. But then the verdict was announced, and I stared at the unlit, barren fireplace in front of me. I sat, shellshocked with mourners to my left and right, outraged and angry and helpless at the declared outcome. Ugliness of this sort doesn’t belong to the Bride, it shouldn’t be part of the vestments she dons, ever. But today, it was. Today the Church bore her most grotesque side, the part that felt and looked and seemed so wrong to me, while ironically feeling so right and beautiful and full of truth to the other half.
Really, if you’d asked some of the spectators there, they would have said that I didn’t belong. They would have called me Fair-Weather Girl, she who only comes out to play when the weather is sunny and merry and bright. And really, there’s truth in that assessment, because it all became too much for us to handle. We needed to step away from the tension and take a break from the pending Big Fight for the past few months. But that’s when I remember: Church isn’t just a place we go on Sunday mornings – it’s a way we live our lives, it’s how we tie ourselves to the people around us. We have knit our hearts to these people, and with them we mourn, with them we rejoice.
And that, I think, is enough of a qualifier in and of itself.
So if you find yourself in your own wrong and ugly situation, give yourself permission. Allow your heart to weep for those who’ve been wronged and cling tightly to the sorrowers around you. Practice letting go of that anger you feel towards the Opposition, again, again, and then gulp and plead and beg for breaths of peace, for your heart and theirs, for every inside that aches on this day. Be sure to let the elephant out of the room, instead of keeping it locked indoors, and then bring a bottle of wine and prayers of peace to the ones who lost the fight.
And then repeat, repeat.
In this with you,
What about you? Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a wrong and ugly situation? If it pertains to the Church, how did this make matters better or worse?