WildGoose2013 and the healing of my hurting heart


Terry and I argue more than any other couple I know. Seriously. People seem extremely shocked when I say, “I am a bit verbally abusive to Terry.” I think they assume that since I work 5000 hours a week serving others, since I am a pastor of a church, and since we attend a separate church, that I must be an extremely wonderful peaceful person like Jesus. I am like Jesus, but most of the time, it’s the running the money changers out of the temple Jesus or the offending religious persons with my speech, Jesus. I want to be the peaceful Jesus. I want to be able to manage everything from the house being painted, to the reports that Terry files, to the emails unanswered in my inbox, to visiting my ailing grandmother, to cutting the jungled grass, to reading my prayers, and making art on top of all the other duties and responsibilities, and “yes” I will help you with your crazy crisis problem. I fill too stretched to help out much of anyone. And yet, there are always stray puppies that need saving wandering into my life. And these puppies always have God inside of them. They aren’t ministry projects, as much as friends, but I feel so overwhelmed. Perhaps, I have a messianic complex, or it’s the guilt of living out the bible- except for that Sabbath part- that part, I almost certainly fail out always. I am not sure. But I don’t treat my husband with kindness and gentleness in moments of crisis.  Wildgoose was going to be my calm down moment. From Hartsfield Jackson to Gainesville, we chatted about God, Art, Sex, Jesus, farming, seminary, and everything in between. The Van started heating up around Gainesville. It seemed the air condition switched to be a hot blow dryer. Terry lost control of the vehicle and ran into another lane. I freaked out. I started screaming, cussing, and generally not be Jesus. I was angry. I blamed him. I asked him four times the week before to go get an inspection on the vehicle that would be carrying our tired and wounded souls to North Carolina for a retreat.  Terry is a calm collected loving jolly guy. He is really loud, gregarious, and cuddly. I am a control freak, who pretends to be hip, but generally in control. I am the girl who did all the work on the group projects; because I was afraid the other slackers would bring my GPA down to a 3.8. The giant one ton, 1999, big ass van with spray paint almost killed us all. I screamed for an hour, blood curdling accusations and judgment. Our two passengers, a Presby seminarian named Susan interning at Koinonia farms, and a recent graduate of Liberty’s online M.Div.-Jewish roots-hand rolled-cigarette-artist-anarchist named Stephanie reacted differently. Susan remained calm and full of life and encouragement. Stephanie said something about spiritual warfare and her back hurting. They both started to pray and intercede. Now, I was mad. We now were pulling into a Racetrac gas station where we would spend the next three hours waiting on two separate tow trucks. Terry, being manly and hoping to regain his awesomeness, after I had chewed him down to nothing, opened the overheating well where coolant rested. The bubbling brown lava attacked his face and arm. I again had the opportunity to be kind, and failed. Stephanie, being the saint she is, went to get ice for his arm. We figured we would spend the money to get a tow truck to bring cooling fluid. And the clouds gathered, and the rain poured on us. I have to say that it has rained a lot in Georgia this summer. It’s been very cleansing, but it’s still hot. Bob showed up an hour later with his NASCAR hat and long hair. He said, “Ya’ll ain’t from around here- I know it must be hard to be broke down like this.” His flash light showed the fray of a serpentine belt. He left. And we called another tow truck. Our spray painted multi-coloured van pulled away in the rain an hour later attached to a tow truck. Stephanie rolled a cigarette, prayed from her Hebrew Bible in Hebrew, and I fumed at the situation which I could not control. I just wanted to rest. I deserved a rest. For God sake, I need to rest. I felt selfish for wanting a break from helping others and serving people. I wanted to be served. I wanted to be helped. I prayed to God, and asked if he was going to answer that question I asked him 38 days earlier. I sat in the rain at Racetrac looking like a vagrant, while I cursed at God in my thoughts, beside Stephanie under her umbrella who remained calm despite our car troubles. Terry and Susan meanwhile, experienced Bob the fundamentalist Baptist retired missionary on their way to pick Stephanie and me up. Bob’s first interaction with Terry and Susan was “what do you think about Salvation?” which was asked while his talk radio glared Rush Limbaugh. I prayed that God would help us, as the news came to me that the parts and labor with the two tows would be around $500. We had the money, but it would cut into our savings.  We arrived at the Ford place, and were told to wait. FOX NEWS greeted us as we entered the waiting room. We plugged in our iPhones, hunkered down, and napped.  Naptime seemed allusive, so I went to the bathroom. I washed my face and looked in the mirror. I heard or imagined God talking to me. I think he said “see I have protected you and kept you.” Now I had not heard God speak in 38 days, nor had I thought our delay was a blessing. Plus I have been so Jesus Seminary lately that I thought God was not speaking. Tears rolled down my face. Good news came from another Bob. Bob from the maintenance said the cost would be $400 instead of $500. We paid it, the van was ready and we got on the road. Wildgoose bound, finally! Yet two miles up the road, as we went through an intersection, we were t-boned. Another delay.

We finally arrived to the hostel around 11. Hugs came from Pat, and Katie Jo. Later Kim, Bex, Julie, and Adele came over. Wine poured freely and Pat and I sat sober drinking our Dr. Pepper and talking about the year. It was good to be around friends. We missed Pastor Nar, and all of our other emergenty outlaw types everywhere. The communal cry seemed to be healing, healing.

I needed healing. Healing from being kicked out of the Assemblies of God, even if it was a kind goodbye, it left wounds in my heart. Healing from hearing Pastor Dave say I couldn’t minister in the prayer line with my beliefs, healing from feeling rejection from the my Assembly of God friends for loving gays and postmoderns. And mostly healing from those ripped relationships. I asked God to heal me weeks ago from all the church hurt. I did not want to be bitter. I just wanted to love them.

I went to bed, and left Terry to be an extrovert. I wasn’t very kind or hospitable to Susan or Stephanie, but I told them to sleep in the Van, as I found my bed and collapsed.

Friday morning arrived, I was ready to roll. Unfortunately those who came with us weren’t quite ready to go. Understandable, it was a hell of a Thursday. I made my way to the main stage, with hugs and mini-convos from friends everywhere. Hugh grabbed me, and I got a hug from Renee at the Love Wins Tent. Hugh helped me process a lot in 2011. He is a saint among ministers. There were more quick hugs, and mini detours, seeing Andrew William Smith, Morgan Guyton, and Mike Wood for starters. I arrived at the main stage to hear the end of Vincent Harding and Phyllis Tickle’s talk. Adele and Kim D sat near me. I stayed for part of the session on racism and met some saints and sinners from Idaho, Michigan, and California.  I then drifted up towards the Performance Café to hear Troy. I remember filming some of it for Josey. I also remember feeling the power of corporate worship. I held my recovering Pentecostal hands in the air for a moment. Then I cried. A hug from Melvin, a quick hug from Kelly. And I asked God again on day 39, if I could be healed. We had no cell service, which was AWESOME. I had time to rest in each moment- each moment and listen to the Holy Spirit, or the wild goose. Friday was a day of tears for me. Maybe because Thursday seemed to slam on the brakes of my heart, emotions, and nerves. I wandered around meeting seniors on motorized wheel chairs and sipping on apple pie moon shine made by some friends who were Church of Christ tattooed saints. I escaped the rain, and held a child. And my tears poured down in the port-a-potty.

Sexuality and the Sacred, made me tear up. I cried for the community in regards to touch.  I listened to Mark and Lisa talk about money and made my way to purchase a book. I ate Michael’s hot sauce, and heard his poems inside of air conditioned peace. The lettuce wrapped around the barbeque, and Wake locked us in an out of the community center while Troy shared on the creative from his book “Drawn In”. Asher talked about Trans issues and raised our awareness. My heart broke down in sadness for the 10 beds available in the Atlanta community for my Trans neighbors who had no housing. Rick and Bob came over to me, pastors of the MCC, and we chatted for a while. It was great to meet Bri and Joan who serve as Harriet Tubman’s of LGBT children in conservative schools. I had not argued with Terry for almost 24 hours. I walked to Kimberly’s camp to celebrate Rebekah’s birthday. The apple pie moonshine warmed my soul. I think I got really loud about breaking down some Bible, ‘cause Betsy asked me about some random bible verse. I love to talk about the Bible. I know folks who have been deeply hurt by it, but for me it speaks to liberation. And I love to dig out its treasure. I drank half the mason jar of moonshine and Terry escorted me to the hostel. 

I tried to pick a fight with Terry about something, but he didn’t let my control freak get the best of him. He held me and we slept. The next morning he crept out and walked, so as not to disturb Stephanie. I felt a headache and some explosive bubbly gut syndrome, but not enough to stop me from moving. I prayed again. I realized that my 40 days was up. Maybe, just maybe God would speak again. I rambled around, jangling, finding a couple of muddy saints on the path. I was tired of talking, I just wanted to listen. I had a piece of cheese from the DarkWood Brew tent, and plopped down to hear the “Pace e Bene” session on The Power of Gospel Non-Violence to Change Our Lives.  Working in homelessness advocacy and education, and pastoring at Church of the Misfits, I felt I could totally learn from this. My butt hit the seat, and suddenly all the violence in my heart came up. The violence I give to terry, the anger and hurt I felt towards the Church, the brokenness in my own family. But I was there to hear about ending war, poverty, destruction of the earth, banning drones, and racism. Or so I thought. David sat beside me. We had never met. And then Noelle and Tim. We sat down together and began to practice the embodiment of conflict resolution. I listened intently to the lecture noting how the Gospel could be used in my own context and life, and then it became time to practice. After several times of acting out scenarios, I bumped into Tim. The instructors told us to stare into each other’s eyes, and try to hear the voice of the other. I centered myself, and tried to center on Tim. I felt like I needed to place my hands on his heart. He then held me, and he told me he saw my pain. It was good, and weird, and Pentecostal without all the baggage. Something inside started to break. My strange gift of the spirit begins to show up. Those images in my head and prayers formed between the tears. I cried and cried and cried.  I met Noelle and saw her as beautiful. Gray haired open tender eyed episcopal. She hugged me and I felt warmed in my neck. My neck that has felt pain so deeply. I felt warmth push through my chest. I hugged her, and moved on. I sat still after others left. 

Melissa Greene offered a mike check. I prayed. The keys began, the music pumped, my head fell heavy in my palms. The tears would not stop, would not relent.  I walked through the paths and near the river. Hugging Kimberly, Kim, and Kim. I smiled at Betsy, Kristen, Liz, and Danielle. The Spirit asked me to search out the one who seemed ignored. I found her, bent down, and asked her for a story and a prayer.  

I wandered off again to introduce Brian at the community center. I met Koinonia Farm workers, and stuffed my face with fair trade chocolate. I listened about the “Cotton Patch Gospel” and the work Brian would be doing with “the Life of Christ.” I wandered around again. Eating with Holly and her sister, trying to listen to the interfaith conversation.  Jeff gave me a hug with his “Humanist” shirt, and I bumped into David Gladstone.  We sat and ate and drank, and Karen came over. Karen had attended “Lee” but was not at Candler, and was planting in Athens. I listened to her story and knew she was an amazing woman.  We meandered down to the children’s tent, where Morgan connected with us. Morgan and I sat off to walk the river. Morgan recounted his story, and his amazing revelation of scripture. If you don’t know Morgan Guyton, you should. I filmed part of his exegesis that blew my mind away, only to realize later that it wasn’t saved.  We talked about finding God in the despised ones.

We said goodbye, and I made my way up to Paul’s talk on bodies and prayer.  When his talk was over, I lunged up front so I could hear Julie. Julie spoke about fifty shades of gray, hope, and how women’s liberation still needed to take place. She gave me the freedom to be girly, smart, and bold. Her humble conversation opened up space for male leaders to rethink the pop culture book and its space in allowing others to explore freedom.  After her talk, I circled up with Kim D and Mike C for a bit, then encountered Shawna from Chicago and Freddy Bell.  I felt renewed and healed.

At Milieu café, I received a healing massage from Caroline, and then listened to an artist talk about starting an art center in Boston. Later, I went to the Indigo girls, and bumped into Brian Mclaren. We talked about Southeastern University and my favorite professors, and AGTS. He use to get invites from the school, but it became unsafe for them after a while. He was gracious, and I thanked him for his work “a Generous Orthodoxy” that helped me navigate things early in my journey as a young Assembly of God student.  The Indigo Girls sang beautifully and loudly, and I danced while smoking a borrowed cigarette from a hippy from Hot Springs.

The dance party gave me freedom to move, and Pat dressed like a monk, talked to Carol Curry, the Jesus woman who loves the homeless. I lifted my hands and felt free from the bitterness. Free enough to love the Church. God asked me to Love her, and to Love myself. I was the church.

We gathered at Bex house for Saturday Night hurrah, splashing in the hot tub, and asking Mike Morrell how he was such a peaceful man. I had more questions for Mike, but it was 3 am, and we had a long drive Sunday. Terry and I lay in each other’s arms sharing deep intimacy that morning. Then we awoke, late, to clean the hostel room, pack, and hear a few others talks before getting in the Van.

I was tired and a bit inpatient. The Van ride home was miserable, as I returned to gripping at Terry. But the experience at the Goose was so healing. I have so many friends who need to be there next year. My 40 days was up. God had spoken. I was to practice more self-care- and give some things up,

 

Back to busy we go, my control freak freaking out. Did you do this? Did I do that? The enamel on my teeth and the crushed vertebrae give out. Yeah I cuss, scream, and violence attacks the air we share! Give me rest, food from the ground, massages, and centering prayer. Save me from my leader self and my fear of intimacy drag me to the church house so I can bow on one knee. Hoping the broken babies FIND therapists, get jobs, move out of the parent’s houses- be independent and radiant.  May the children on the road we see quit that meth, write a song, get some marital counseling, plant a tree and move along

From depression and screwed up to healthy front porch swinging. I am too busy to be there for you because I am too busy being there for everyone but me. But o know you got divine written on your heart so let it be. Share the story when we aren’t bleeding- after it’s healed up. Speaking from scars sounds sweet on our ears; the screams from our wounds stop us from listening. We can give you 15 minutes and that’s all we have. But I saw Jesus in you.

And the Wild Goose ministered to my wounded heart.-

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