Sunday, August 2, 2009


Sunday morning is always for church. But what is church for? Sometimes I just go and evaluate, and nothing real happens in me. I fidget: twist a strand of hair, look up semi-relevant Bible verses, pick at my fingernails. I can't keep my body still, much less my mind. I'm not really there, I just wake up for a couple of good songs and then fade back into restlessness.

But there are other days when the reverberation of the organ infiltrates my bones, when my gaze clings to the stained glass windows, when a word from the pastor takes root in my thoughts. Stillness seeps into me. I wake up.

Sometimes I open my eyes to joy that I have been rushing past. Sometimes I wrench the blindfold off and my eyes burn in the light. Sometimes, instead, they burn at the darkness in my heart. But tears wash away the scorch marks, because the whole church reminds me: love is not a function of my achievement or failure.

The sermon today was about unresolved conflict. I am very good at avoiding conflict by forgetting what I want and need. A day or a week or three months later, I finally understand that I can't go on like this, and then I have to unwrap the conflict, deal with it. Another quarter of the year later, I finally begin to realize how much I am hurt from that season where I folded up my soul and put it away in a drawer. I had to face that hurt today. I don't like that I am still hurting from things that (I think) shouldn't be on my mind anymore. I don't like that burying pain hasn't made it disintegrate and sprout into something new and beautiful. Instead it is still lying under the surface. When I try to plant something else, the shovel runs into it.

But I don't have to heal myself. My survival is not contingent on doing everything right. God is not contingent on anything. We sing in church, "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness stretches to the sky." I need to keep singing that song.

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