It is so easy to forget how fragile our life is. One minute one can be laughing and playing or working and struggling; then the next minute there is a diagnosis, a lost job, an imploded relationship and suddenly, without warning or preparation, one is tossed unceremoniously into a crisis-pit which seems to deep and so dark.
We see warts. we see cuts. We see casts. We see even the signs of nausea and exhaustion on faces. But real grief and real loss have roots that run deep into the body as if they crawl inside us and wrap around our organs and bones like some form of biological ivy, unseen to the world around us but felt inside us like some awakened leviathan. And our Anglican and Episcopal church does not do a good job of helping its people to talk about their troubles: arrive, sit, coffee, polite, learn, depart.
If I were building a new kind of church (and I am just to old to start a new religion) I wish we had round churches. I wish the altar was in the middle and the chairs around it and the walls around the congregation had dozens of small rooms. I wish the congregation came forward for their bread and wine, but then went into those small rooms in groups of 4-8 and spent an hour or two talking about how the week went, where they failed in their christian life, where they succeeded, what they wish they could understand. I wish that each group had an old crone – a wonderful old woman with grey hair and wise eyes who could lead the groups and remind the weak that they will again be strong. Remind the emotionally stupid that they need to up their game. Remind the cruel that they need therapy. Remind the kind and gentle that they are not alone – there are others like them – many. Remind the broken marriages that there is healing out there. Remind the grieving that the tar they feel like they are walking through will loosen as they heal. Remind the righteous that they are not God’s gift to the church or even the world. And host a conversation that heals and encourages and comforts and challenges. Then after two hours of those conversations we all gather back for a gut-busting hymn of hope and go on our way.
I realize that this is not how we do church in our denomination. I do. But its ok to have a longing because it tells us something about who we are.
But I do hope, with all my heart, that healing conversations happen. And that God sends us wise old women to help guide us.