Monday, July 26, 2021

Healing Steps

I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves "Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment." - Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

As I worked to support the events of the UCC's General Synod, it had some overlap with my family's vacation trip to Ormond Beach, Florida. I had to take my work laptop with me in order to keep up with what was happening before I was able to fully transition to my week of relaxation and renewal.

(Working remotely from the beach, I must say, is not the worst way to go about things.)

There was a certain synchronicity that this overlap provided that I'll be thinking about for a while. It began during Synod's closing worship, which was so well done. I could easily picture myself sitting in a real live plenary hall with thousands of others experiencing the music and preaching and prayer of this time. And as I immersed myself in that imagery, I felt a spiritual connection to my church in a way that I admit I've been missing off and on over the past 15-16 months (really, it's been longer). It was the sort of prayerful imagining that helped me take a few healing steps away from what came before and into what is now.

In particular, I was struck by the words of one of the closing songs:

The light of God surrounds us
The love of God enfolds us
The power of God protects us
The presence of God watches over us
Wherever I am
Wherever we are

This truth carried me into the beginning of my actual time off, as I stepped onto a beach and into an ocean I haven't experienced in two years. I wish that I could describe the feeling of that first step into the water--the realization of how much I'd missed it. It was part of a continued realization of how much I've missed in general since March 2020. That first break in routine and in scenery can be a strong revealer of just how mundane you've needed to keep things in the name of safety for yourself and your loved ones.

I've been feeling anxious and tired just thinking about what I'll need to return to. The more I think about it, that's not really a commentary on the work itself so much as what it has meant to finally have a taste of life without it for so long. 

These experiences of transcendent worship and dipping toes into familiar yet distant places brought a sense of astonishment I've been craving. It was not expected, which made it all the more welcome and brought a gratitude I've been glad to return. 

The light, love, power, and presence of God is indeed wherever we are. It's in pandemic bubbles and in faraway terrains of the heart that we finally get to visit again. And in either space, it can bring the sort of unexpected hope that allows for a few more healing steps forward.