Peace be with you
And into that Upper Room, Jesus materializes, greeting His disciples behind locked doors. No doors are locked to God. There is no place we can go, where God is not. Whoever we are, and wherever we are, God knows us, and loves us, as we are.
This is helpful to remember. To remember that God loves me, even if I don’t know who I am. Even if, by rights, I should never have been born. My parents’ marriage, I am told, was long-dead, before I was born. As they prepare to go to court, to divorce, to argue, I am left behind, reeling; the tattered remains of a marriage that no longer exists; fraying at the seams of fresh arguments. I am not sure I exist anymore. God loves me, even then.
To remember that God loves me, even as I am unloveable. Even as all relationships are difficult to navigate; as I am partner-less, as I am destroying my career through over-work; under-work; over-work. Even as I cannot love others, cannot trust. Even then.
And also with you.
As we greet Jesus, ‘Here I am’, God affirms, ‘Yes, you are’. This pattern of greeting with God can be the echo that tells us we are okay – we are more than good enough – as we are.
So began Pádraig Ó Tuama’s retreat day with the Two:23 network yesterday. A tapestry of poetry and reflections, and questions. So much to think about. So much that was faith-affirming.
Much that was challenging.
Challenging, because Pádraig believes in Hell – and in his description of it, I realize that I do, too. Not in hellfire and damnation; but in the earthly Hell we can create for others through the way that we choose to treat them; by what we choose to tell them about who they are – and who they are in God’s eyes.
You are being destructive and damaging and must stop
I can’t help my emotional reactions. They are outwith my control.
We are told that Jesus has room for everyone; whatever people are told about the limits on God’s love. The challenge is to continue to respond in love, no matter how we are treated. The cliche – to kill them with kindness. In spite of outright rejection and fear, to offer service. To stay with a community, that is seeking to exclude, to protect themselves; to stand with them in dignity, not to be broken – not to be ‘kept in place’ – by them.
I am broken. I can cope with being told of God’s love. I can (intellectually, at least) understand that God loves us, no matter what. But I cannot continue responding in love, to rejection. Not any more. Now, I am refusing to talk to my Elder, refusing to call her my Elder, just as she has refused, for over a year, to allow any communication between me and the minister. Now, I am refusing to call from the pulpit the words of hypocrisy I hear every other Sunday morning ‘whoever you are, you are welcome here‘. Welcome is more than false smiles, thinly veiled fear, avoidance, criticism. I melt down with the effort of containing the anger. I cannot stop crying.
Now, I am horrid, and hurt, and in a thousand pieces. Again. And I am told to stay, because who else will teach them about treating the mentally ill with dignity; because I cannot speak louder to them in my death. But I have run out of the energy to hold myself together.
I am thirsty for liminal space. Space to breathe; space to be held; to feel the Love I know. I want the pain to end. Please help me, God.