Yesterday I attended a funeral at my former church in Winston-Salem - St. Anne's, once known as the Pizza Hut on the Hill because of its roofline. Now, trees have obscured that detail, and a beautiful community building adjoins the church and day school. My partner helped create the interior of that community building before we moved away. I had returned to that church only once - to bury my god-son, Bill, a Vietnam Vet with COPD and a few years older than me.Now I returned to bury a friend, lost some years ago to Alzheimer's.
I walked into the past. The rector who sped my departure was gone, but everything else seemed the same. A few new faces, but the core remained. Everyone sat in their regular places; the choir sang familiar anthems; the retired choirmaster had returned; his wife played some of the anthems on the organ while the new young organist did the rest. The tri-fold board in the narthex was one that I had made. The music room is named in honor of my partner.
The peace pole has a few new pieces. The river birches are taller. The columbarium is still full of people whose graves I dug and whose ashes I placed. They hold the church secure, and we added one more avant garde lady to that assortment. May light perpetual shine upon them.
I cried. I cried for my own loss. And, in psychological terms, I processed a pain so that I can move along. My spiritual development was arrested when I fled; now I begin to feel the presence of God again. My lack of perception has been replaced with a quiet comfort and a gentle jogging: "Okay, back into the evangelism business, back into the pastoral care business." I call it business - because it is a busy-ness instead of the inertia of fear of being rejected, fear that I have failed.
Yet, yet, I knew that the desert time I had spent was essential. Prayer, theology, laughter with God and Godly people. Virtual pastoral care. Virtual evangelism. Not wasted time, but integrative, creative time walking humbly with my God.
Now the time is near for doing justice, assisting God in making the divine mercy recognized - mercy as the steadfast love of God - hesed in Hebrew. I will walk humbly with my God as I have done before, but I will add doing justice and loving mercy as I am physically and emotionally able. Thanks be to God.