After the crying and breaking -down, and the sheer desperation of last week, as I sat with the Consultant Psychiatrist, in an uncontrollable flood of anguish; after her affirmation, along with so many others, that the way the church is handling this is unhelpful (her words were stronger), I have done the only thing I have found that has helped me cope; I have come away on retreat.
Looking for a place to go, this one seemed to call my name. I have come to rest at the Well at Willen. I have long found the symbolism of a well helpful – long meditated on it. And the prayer room here bears the icon of the story that has meant so much, and continues to breathe meaning into my struggle. The story that now holds for me the promise that, eventually, there will be reconciliation.
Here, I have rested in that promise. I have sought comfort in the daily rhythms of life in community; morning prayer, midday prayer, evening prayer. I have walked the lakes, in bitter frost and glorious evening sunshine. I have sat by open fires, coloured in, and spent time with the community cats. I have reduxed the daily psalms, 102, 119, and 132, where I hadn’t reduxed them before, and enjoyed the accompaniment of Henri J. Nouwen for my reflection.
Here is what I have learnt. That each one of us has a deep need to be loved unconditionally, perfectly, fully. That only God can meet that need. That God places others around us, who may reach into that need, reflect something of the love they have known from the One who loves us unconditionally. These people might hold us in unconditional positive high regard, but they cannot love us that way. That accepting the reflection of the love that these people offer is not wrong. Neither is it wrong to be held by that love, or to feel at peace in it. It is of God. But replacing or substituting that love for the love of God – or hoping that a person’s love will meet one’s need for unconditional love, will lead to pain. Because no one can fulfil our need for unconditional love, but God. That taking pain to God, working through it, can make us more like God.
So, I turn back to God. I turn back, knowing the above. I am a Beloved Child of God. No one can take that away from me. I let God know how much pain I am in. Raw, desolate despair, at targeted rejection, and outright ostracism. I let Him hold it for me. Soon, I might be able to feel God’s love around me again. No matter how I am treated, God’s promise, at the heart of everything, is one of reconciliation.