Yesterday was picture-perfect, just the sort of day for a graduation party in the yard. We were present to give testimony to Nathan’s achievement and as manifestation of the rich web of relationships and roles it takes to raise a child. Either is a sufficient reason for celebration.
The strong web of community endures even when we are unaware, overlaps with surprises that delight us. Here’s one… Bob & Maura, friends from the Church of St. Luke were at the party. We hadn’t seen each other since the graduate was a preschooler! I had forgotten that Bob had been the college roommate of Nathan’s dad.
We shared the sort of three-minute update friends do after a break of thirteen years. What are we up to now? Weren’t those great days! In our case we grieved the sorry state of the church we love — a frequent topic for many of us in Minneapolis-St Paul over the past few years.
But as our perfect summer Sunday afternoon provided, as Nathan commences with his move to Seattle University, our circumstances inspired optimism, gratitude, hope, confidence. Despite our collective pain and considerable grief at what has transpired in our church over the past thirteen years, we remained oddly enthusiastic and happy.
Our sentiment was appropriate to a festive occasion. In our hurried recap yesterday Bob, Maura and I had actually expressed an odd sort of satisfaction with our church. Silence and secrecy kill — at lease now “the boil had burst, the festering pain finally exposed.”
We agreed that healing happens once facts are faced and truth is told. In an odd sort of way, we acknowledged that we are actually a much healthier church in 2015 than we were in 1995. For institutions as well as individuals, recovery of mission and purpose can slowly but definitively commence with public confession of our sin.
Little could we have anticipated this morning’s news! It came as a bolt of lightning, as a sudden shock, a welcome but totally unexpected surprise. Though eagerly longed for by a long-suffering community, the resignation of Archbishop John Neinstedt does not elicit any sense of gloating. Actually, a deep resonant grief underpins my profound gratitude which in turn inspires an abiding hope.
Vindication — and there is most assuredly a sense of vindication and justice in the refreshing news — feels kinder, gentler and much more merciful than either I would have ever expected or prescribed. This morning’s deep emotions are less about a scandalous abuse of power and the excruciating pain inflicted, though there is plenty of that! The deeper anguish now surfacing is for all that might have been, for a future that should have been! This is the loss that we must truly grieve.
This morning is party cloudy in MSP, not nearly as picturesque as yesterday afternoon with Nathan. There will surly be cloudy days, some long nights and even a few storms ahead for Nathan and for all of us. Once again we are reminded of what’s really important, where we stand and to whom we belong.
This is all possible because — ultimately — we rest securely within an intricate web of community that celebrates milestones, tells the truth, remains present amid grief, heals those in pain, cherishes our young, and cares for any who are vulnerable. This is all possible because we rest in the resolute love of God.
What an ideal “village” in which to raise a child… what a graced way to experience “church.”