Sunday, June 2, 2013

Communion Sunday, Bearded Iris, and M. Roger Holland, II

I awoke ashamed.

I thought I would be able to maintain an emotional distance, but I didn't.

I'm stuck and I don't know how to get out, though I'm fairly sure that getting out is the right and healthy thing to do.

I thought that perhaps I could walk the line very carefully until I had a clear plan, an answer, some idea of what to do.  I thought that perhaps emotional vulnerability only happened when I had a need and shared openly.

I was wrong.

These are the single best smelling
 flower in all the world
Instead, I learned that emotional vulnerability happens when we share our joys as well as our sorrows.  And as the bearded iris have bloomed--10 weeks late--I shared this love.  I did not share why I love bearded iris so much.

Very few people know that I love these flowers.  Far fewer know why.  Only a handful know the significance they came to hold in 2007.

I shared none of this.  Just that they had finally bloomed, and how extraordinary was their fragrance, and how sad that the petals had been blown off the three in the neighbor's yard.

Instead of feeling connected, instead of feeling joy and delight in our conversation and in our relationship, I felt empty and ashamed for sharing any part of myself.

And I awoke this morning still carrying that sense of shame.  As though, more than having done something wrong, there was something wrong with me, that I would continue in this at all.

Then, I put it out of my mind.  I went to church.  Communion Sunday.

I smelled them as I walked through the doors of the basement, into the fellowship hall.

The church was full of bearded iris.  A moment in which I felt utterly loved.

Then, I headed upstairs to review the service and my role in Communion.  And I read the text and I read the prayers and I thought about what it means.  A moment in which I felt utterly loved.

M. Roger Holland, II
I stole this from his website, which
I genuinely hope he does not mind.
For some reason, the complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love communicated by bearded iris and the complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love communicated by Communion brought to mind M. Roger Holland, II.

M. Roger Holland, II is an incredible human being with extraordinary talents and a fierce passion to use those talents to minister to others.

It so happens that Roger's talents and my tastes aren't super meshy.  Roger is a musician.  At the time I knew him, I hated all music.  Roger, who cannot breathe without making music, was confused my hatred for all music, and we sat down one day so I could explain it to him.  Roger was filled with compassion and an incredible understanding about my relationship to music.  And it saddened him that I had experienced music in the ways that I had, which had led me to so despise it.

Except for one song.  Intrigued, Roger asked what song it was, and I shared it with him on a bright October afternoon.

Seven months later, Roger had arranged to serenade me at the annual Gospel Choir Concert with back up vocals, guitar, and cello.  This song.  This one song.  The only song that meant something good and beautiful and lovely to me.  Roger got the whole gospel choir behind this, and they pestered me endlessly about attending the concert.  None ever gave away what he had planned.  It was a complete surprise.

I am loved.  The complete, holy, and wholly unconditional love of a friend who simply wanted to use his gifts to bless me in a moment when I was hurting.

With fifteen minutes to go before the service started, I began to cry.  Rather uncontrollably.  Shame and fear and hurt and humiliation and invalidation.  Undergirded by the sense that I was inviting such things to remain in my life.  Something must be wrong with me.  To know such love; to accept something that is such a poor reflection, and which more and more often hurts me, and which is justified in its hurting by it being "for my own good," surely there is something profoundly wrong with me.

I won't even begin to dissect the abusive reality of that last.

I will, however, write this:  BULLSHIT.

Shaming, invalidating, and hurting others when they are hurting and come to us in moments of intense vulnerability is not for their good.

And then....

And then....

Communion Sunday.  Bearded iris.  Roger.  Roger who is one of hundreds who have loved me well.

Still, I do not know what to do.  Still, I am lost and confused and hurting.

As I leave the church, carrying all of these ways of love with me, I hear Jesus ask, "Do you want to be made well?"  And I remember the last time he asked me this, and what he told me when I responded with an emphatic, "YES!"

"Get up, put a leash on your dog, and take him for a walk."  I have a different dog now.  And I continue to hold this, faithfully, continuing to trust that while I may not understand, at some point, I will know the path, healing will begin or continue or become more evident.

Each morning, I get up.  I put a leash on my dog.  I take her for a walk.

And I remember Communion Sunday.  I remember bearded iris.  I remember M. Roger Holland, II.

I remember that I am completely, holy, and wholly unconditionally loved.

1 Peter 4:8.  What the heck does it mean?

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