This is the last reference, in non-fiction, referring to the church, for the remainder of my life. (Short of a need to defend myself. perhaps) Today I am bathing in the awareness of how much my life has been healed by the planet on which it walks, lives, breathes, and has its brief being. As a fundraiser of almost 40 years, nothing is more central a reality than that giving, philanthropy of time or money, emerges from two chemistries: gratitude and emotional intelligence. If one or the other has been broken by life, then generosity is constipated.
My youth was deeply damaged by parents whose freedom to raise a child was not licensed. It was not their skill set. They, themselves had been badly raised and so how could they raise me well?
And so I joined the church because it felt familiar. I fit in. The abandonment, manipulation, lies, abuse, posturing, and pomposity all felt normal to me. I went from one alcoholic family to another. How could I not?
And I, so sick, chose the sickest places for ministry. A monastery of emotionally truncated men escaping reality. A diocese in which the Canon To the Ordinary maintained an affair for four years with as senior warden. Where a bishop was having sex in public parks. Another place in which the head priest and bishop were sociopaths and the church was what we call a “clergy-killer.” I was living in a Trollope novel.
So I left official church ministry after 5 years of preparation and 20 of hard work. Half my life on earth. Or was expelled. Or vomited out. Hard to tell really. But regardless, the cosmic release into the hope of healing began when I walked out. Striding, Head high. Having done my best. And, of course, I knew too much for the church not to try to hunt me down. I was too good at making a new life to be harmed any more. How do we seek revenge? We live a great and good life!
Two years of silence in New Mexico then three on this beautiful island combined with the loving care of a good therapist, two loving dogs, and a dozen friends healed me. I was restored to the life “God”, or whatever you call that co-regulating co-creating energy of the cosmos, had meant for me.
Now, this is my chapel. I sit in my back yard on this small island in the Salish Sea, forest-bathed under new baptismal waters. No people interpret spirituality at me. No dogma. No ritual except the ones my heart longs for. No pomp and yet plenty of circumstance. I let the green-life throb around me and I let the celestial beings call for my healing. “Heal! Heal! Heal! says the hymns they sing so softly. Then I let the island clay pass through my fingers on the potter’s wheel, making shapes in the air.
Tonight new friends join me. Nothing religious. But so much FUN! A roast beef with vegetables, Yorkshire Pudding and Trifle eaten in stages while we watch a Downton Abbey double feature sipping gin. The irony of watching Downton Abby family while the church family goes through the same changes is not lost on me. My bishops were all Countess Violet. And most clergy were a version of Thomas Barrow, the sad, broken footman.
Dogs, good food, friends, a mission to raise money for people who suffer, a forest, an island, some distan
ce from abuse. I can feel myself recovering. Sure I wish I had not entered the church. But I have compassion on the me that did. How c
ould I have not!?! And now it is time never to write about or speak about the church
again. Never. It is time to seek an act of new revenge – a happy life. Lead where it will and cost what it may.
Today as I cook in the kitchen and make plates in the pottery studio and sit in my tiny forest I am profoundly grateful that forces I refuse to describe or explain, spin me between unseen fingers into this new vessel – this content man – this n
Behold, I am imperfect. But behold, I am being made new, just in time. Not an elegant altar vase. Just a mug. Enough. And soon, decomposition. A brief life. And what will remain? mugs. Bowls, plates, funeral urns. Thousands of pieces of potteryin kitchens and landfills. For ten thousand years. And some love infused in the lives around me. More than enough in billions of years on this green and blue spinning marble. More than the average Pooh Bear.
(Author’s note: Soon, look out for written and video blogs and vlogs on “Spirituality Set Free.” And perhaps a new Trollopian novel…After all, fiction is how we tell the truth.)