There have been times in my life when the road was arduous to journey on. When all I could do was put one foot in front of the other. When taking a breath was the only form of survival I could muster. Breathe. Take a step. Breathe. Pray. Breathe. Surrender.
And life goes on.
Many people speak of The Dark Night of the Soul. When life becomes bleak, dismal, and everything you have ever known is called into question. When your entire life falls apart.
This has happened to me, twice.
You see, the world stops when you lose someone so intimate to you. Completely stops.
It alters you. Challenges you. Humbles you. And forever changes you.
And like a domino effect, my entire life fell apart. I broke. Completely.
And life goes on.
But a part of you doesn’t. A part of you dies. And that death can be painful or purposeful. Or both.
While in the process of breaking down, I handed in my priesthood card to my pastor. I didn’t feel like I was in a position to minister. I was in pain; in grief. I was lost.
And all went silent. The church that I gave my soul to. The church that I gave countless hours and energy, dedication and love to. My church, went silent.
Not one home visit. Not one phone call.
Pastors, youth ministers, life long friends... Silence.
And there I was, in the Dark Night of my Soul. Without my church.
The silence reminded me of the Easter season. I know, random, right? But not so -
You see, we gather for Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday... and then we go home. We go about our daily lives. We hide candy. We find candy. Life goes on. Until Easter Morning, when the tomb is empty and Christ has risen.
And what about the transformation that takes place in the tomb? What of the darkness. What of the anguish? What of the dark night that led to awakening? Jesus surely went through a Dark night of the Soul. Transformation into new life?
Isn’t that the pinnacle moment? Isn’t that the true essence of eternal life?
So why does the Church go silent on those days? In the darkest hours of Christ’s life?
So I handed in my priesthood card, and all went silent.
And I mourned. Not only for my mom. Not only for the unraveling of my life. But also for the unraveling of my perceived Church.
But the beautiful thing.
The part that warms my soul,
Is that the Spirit of God never goes silent.
And the Spirit of God travels beyond the four walls of the Church.
Travels beyond the beautiful campgrounds.
It is a Spirit that lives and breathes in family members. In friends.
My grandfather raised our family with the intention to be among the Church.
What he instilled into our blood was the principles or servitude and true community.
What he imprinted into our hearts was the beating of the Great Spirit.
Both visionary and intuitive.
It does not need four walls.
For the Spirit transforms. Breathes. Abides.
In recent years there has been much talk about the Church losing its members; of young adults not attending; of tithings dwindling. While this concerns me, I have full faith that a church, once silent, is fully capable of transformation.
All things come to an end. That is a universal principle. Creation and destruction. But energy is never lost. It is only transformed.
The Dark Night of the Church will come. And it will be an unraveling of the walls that have formed the illusion of community. And as they crumble, I pray the Spirit that first breathed life into this Church will breathe life into us anew. That the church wont be attached to walls; but rather, they will be attached to each other.
For the true church that continues to transform and evolve and grow with its people needs to be capable of walking people through both creation and destruction.
Be capable of showing people:
What it means to be a disciple and what it means to stumble.
What it means to multiply the loaves and the fishes and what it means to go hungry.
What it means to heal and what it means to pass on.
What it means to hold people in the light and what it means to hold people in the darkness.
This church needs to reach for its people. Hold them. Walk with them. Wherever the journey may lead. Even into the Dark Night of their Soul.
Because the Divine is in all things.
Because ministers are meant to be healers of the Soul.
Because divorce, abuse, death and illness are real and do happen.
Because no one should walk any road alone.
This summer I spent precious time with a young minister in the Church. She truly is an angel among us. And it was the first time, in years, that I felt a renewed sense of Spirit calling me back to the Church that I loved. Calling me Home. And while my connection to the Divine travels further than any one denomination, I would follow her. Wherever she breathed life. Wherever she planted a seed. Wherever she planted a Church. And I would trust my light and my darkness in her hands.
Thank you, Katie.