Well there always has to be a first time, I guess. And I admit have been dodging this one. "The News" about the separation was announced in the parish newsletter the week before last. I skipped church last week as I had the nursing home in the afternoon, and well, I just wasn't ready. But today was my Sunday to celebrate and preach, so there was no getting around it, I had to be there. Sermon writing was hard. Things have been tense between us this week. As much as we both have good intentions about this being positive, we are both in pain, both edgy, and it does not take much for feelings to get stirred up. We disagree about some pretty fundamental issues and I am feeling some anger right now. This was a hard place from which to write about the commandment to love one another. It was not my best sermon, and I found I couldn't get too stirred up about that. At least not yesterday. This morning was another story entirely. The good news is, I know a panic attack when I see one. I know what to do to get through it and I knew afterwards that asking for help and support would be a good thing. Having done that, I went and did what was before me. My first encounter was with our sweet altar guild person. She was not able to stay for service due to another commitment, but had come early to set the altar. She gave me a hug and told me how much she appreciated that we had told everyone so openly. "I've never been in a church where something has been handled so honestly," she said, "I'm praying for both of you." That made me feel good, and it made me cry. There were very few other people there today as there are a number of things going on out of town that involve members of the congregation. Dear One was there. That was good, but hard. Seeing the face of someone I am finding it hard to forgive while I am preaching about Jesus' mandate to do so...well that was a little disconcerting....and that critical voice in my head? Oh, yeah, took advantage of the moment to call me a hypocrite, she did!
But other than that, and the fact that I seemed to keep finding myself in tears, I got through it. It was the prayers. I know it was the prayers. That and the love and care of my friends is all that is getting me through any of this. I am riding that like a slipstream....it is God's grace manifest. You know who you are you angels and messengers.
So I have made the maiden voyage. The first hard step is over. There will be other ones, other people who were not there today who still must be faced, some in particular whose judgments I fear, some whom I am sure will have things to say to me or about me. But I have to let it go. I can't control this part (as if I can control any of it!). One of the things I found myself praying over and over as I vested this morning was to remember that this is not about me, not this part anyway, that my job here is to get out of the way as much as possible, leaving the space for God.
I am waiting and hoping for this first sort of shocky stage to pass. I'd like to start making some sense of this, finding my self in here again. I have hope that this will happen. I don't know when. I'm told it will be sooner than I might imagine from here. I'd be good with that too. In the meantime, I'm finding my comforts in blogs and e-mails, dogwalks and talks with good friends. I'm trying to pray and knowing others are doing so for me. I'm holding out carrots on short sticks and long and moving through one experience at a time.