Friday, June 13, 2008

The Road To Healing is Paved with Scares and Scars

On Monday, I stopped at a rest area just north of Ann Arbor. I saw two things that stayed with me. I'll relate the second one first.

As I was walking back to my car, I saw a young blond boy, about 8 years old, sitting in a dog crate in the back of a pick-up truck. I laughed, he looked so comfortable in there while his chocolate lab puppy was on leash with his mom, sniffing around the grass and trees. The boy looked like he belonged in the crate, with a big grin on his face, waiting for a dog treat while the dog was thinking about the front seat.

Shortly before seeing the kennelled boy, I observed another type of role reversal. It occurred to me that, as our population ages, there is an odd type of reverse discrimination for heterosexual couples. That sounds odd coming from a lesbian, but listen and I will explain...

As I walked into the rest area building, I saw an older man (probably in his late 70s) standing nervously outside of the women's restroom. A few steps further on, I entered the bathroom, and I noticed under the door of the handicapped stall, there was a walker and a woman's feet. This concerned husband could not go in there to make sure his beloved was okay.

When Deb was using a walker after her surgery, I could just go into the stall with her, to help her, to make sure that she was okay. I had an advantage that this white married heterosexual man can't ever excercise in a public restroom (except at the very few and far between that have a seperate, single-seater unisex handicapped bathroom).

I was sad for him in his anxiety and in his powerlessness to take care of his wife in public.

The reason I was in that part of the world was that I had my 3 month pap/pelvic exam in Ann Arbor. It went well. The doctor said that she likes what she didn't see or feel. The pap results aren't back yet. However, the bloodwork for my CA125 (tumor marker) came back the next day. It has gone up to 15.7. Before I had the chemo/radiation and surgery, it was only 12.8. I have to get re-checked in a month. Meanwhile, I wait.

This CA125 test is not always an accurate determination of whether or not someone has cancer. Some people's numbers always go up when they have cancer growing, and some don't. I have no idea which category I fall into. 15.7 is still very low in general, but because it was higher than it's ever been in my blood, they want to keep an eye on it.

So, of course, I'm nervous and worried. Throughout this process, I'm trying to remind myself that everything happens for a reason.

Tomorrow, Saturday June 14, there is going to be a conflict resolution mediator at the church to try to help us work out some of the crap that has been flying around there. My heart is breaking over what's been happening and being said. I'm not even involved in the controversies, yet still my heart breaks.

My heart breaks for those who hold so tightly to anger and resentment that forgiveness seems to them like an abdication of control. In reality, it is a reclaimation of true personal power which is innately rooted in compassion and love. (I am working on a sermon about this, it's not ready, nor am I ready to share it.)

My heart breaks for those who no longer feel welcome in a church that claims that it welcomes all people. As a welcoming congregation, people of all sexual orientations, races, abilities, etc. are welcome. Lesbians, as well as straight white men should feel safe. Straight white men, as well as lesbians, deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity. We all deserve to have the divine spark recognized within us, regardless if we are having a bad day.

My heart breaks that some people don't feel safe within the walls that I hold dear. Safety is a basic human need, and feeling safe assures us of a certain amount of human dignity to which we all are entitled. It is sad to me that some of us don't feel safe among others of us. The U.U. Church should be a safe refuge for everyone. It saddens me that so many intelligent, talented, compassionate folks now look for the "enemies" among us, the "potential abusers", the "perpetually rude", and those who are lining up on whichever "side" they feel is the most rightous among us. We should instead be looking to one another to help us recognize the enemies within ourselves and help one another begin to heal those internal enemies so that they are no longer enemies, but instead sources for positive change and internal strength. We should be lifting one another up, not seeking to drag one another down.

My heart breaks that there seems to be a collective amnesia regarding the importance of living, breathing and worshipping within the framework of the Seven Principles of our faith which are that we affirm and promote:
*The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

So, I hope that those who feel wronged or angry or hurt or threatened, or who just plain believe that healing needs to occur among our congregation all come tomorrow to allow and perhaps even facilitate some healing among us.

I have learned, since having my hysterectamy, that a very interesting thing happens when there has been a painful assult upon the body. Where healing is allowed to occur, the scar tissue is stronger and tougher than before the ripping open. The once abused tissue will never look or feel the same, but there will always be an air of strength for having gone through the process of being wounded, then having the wound cleansed, closed and through patience and care, healed. Without facilitating closure and healing, the wound would fester and contaminate the entire body, eventually rendering it powerless or dead.

Let the healing begin among this body of people that I so dearly love. Let the personal insults, rumors, anger and attitudes of victimization be put aside and allow the healing to begin. Our congregational wounds can be transformed into scars, which are healed areas of strength. Within the areas of current pain, if the healing is nurtured, the gaping wounds can transform into areas of unique beauty, if we choose to see them so.

The way to begin to see the unique beauty and strength is to learn from our pain. Learn collectively how to better communicate with one another (don't forget that the most important part of communication is listening). Learn as individuals to recognize ourselves in one another and to forgive ourselves and one another for being failable human beings.

We need, throughout this process, to remember that everything happens for a reason.