As Holly and I articulated in our post from yesterday, I am excited and eager for this adventure into blog reinvention to begin. I have been both amazed and then, at the same time, not overly surprised to find a community of ecumenical, interfaith, and non-faith-oriented writers being so open to this collaboration. I am eager to hear from the well-over-31 writers as we move into this inaugural month of posting.
This rebirth, of sorts, has me waxing nostalgic about my own personal process entering into the emerging, emergent, and emergence dialogue which began with tepid steps, moved into lukewarm observation at the periphery, and, in recent years, has found my sitting at the center of some of the most exciting dialogues, most engaging theological and philosophical conversations, and landed me in places that felt like they always should have been home–amid emergent folks across the country.
It has been a bit of a whirlwind courtship, with me and emergence, all told. While I saw what was happening in emerging circles for years, I spent much of that not altogether sure I wanted to be a joiner or affiliate to anything, even fringe, which associated with religion or Christianity in the formal sense. My entrance in to the public dialogue of emergence is probably just past its one year anniversary.
Previous to that I was much a sidelines gal. I had been burned by faith–or rather faith-full who felt a bit more like faith-less when I got up close to look. I was a wounded skeptic, which, if you are wondering, can also be the gateway to wounded healer. For me it was, but it just took nearly a decade to get there.
It began, my skepticism, in the most cliche way, the kind that gets woven into the cinematic plots of stories written by probably a few wounded skeptics, and maybe even a few wounded healers. It began with a dogmatic, gruff, insensitive, and not altogether people-person of a Monsignor who ran my Catholic Church and CCD programming as a child. His sidekick, ah yes, the nearly equally infamous, terse and icy nun, who could illicit chills with a single glance. Like a superpower, except a really terrible one.
Now, I must give a caveat, a footnote, and a moment of pause, lest you think I am here to tear down the Catholic Church, or priests on the whole, or nuns, to say that, in the time since this initial encounter with those of the “cloth” I was able to find my way to experience the love, the humility, the strength, and the beauty of many a nun and priest. It took a long time for me to look for them but when I did I encountered them everywhere, and on their behalf I cringe with sadness when people find their experience of Catholicism altogether exclusive to the caricatures of faith–because there are real human people out there, doing good work. So, I tell you of my start but in it I also couch a bit of my end [to this point] so that we don’t get off on a clergy-bashing foot.
So, my beginning was a cliche but much of my trek to today has been inclusive of many loving faces of faith–and still the many replete editions of the old caricatures which still rumble around in all faith spaces, being terse and narrow and, at worst, abusive and bigoted.
See, the thing about moving from wounded skeptic to wounded healer is you see the embodiment of both everywhere. Everywhere. And you are forced to recognize the truth of the healing and healers and healed as much as those that wound and remain wounded. In this balance is the equanimity of the universe, of divinity and of grace. The world is full of the potential for both and the embodiment of both.
As we get to know each other in this particular venue I will share more of my own journey of hurt and healing, of skepticism and healing, but for today I just want to touch on the possibility for both–in all moments, in all people, in all places.
None of us is entirely without spite or cruelty or ego, and equally, none of us is without the potential for love, kindness, and grace. Even the people that piss us off. Even the ones that hurt because they hurt. Even the ones that don’t understand themselves enough to have compassion for anyone else. They have a kernel of good. We all have a kernel of good. What we nourish is what we gain, and what we manifest in our lives and others.
It took me a whole lot of hurt and a couple of decades to come to that realization and so I share this at the beginning of this spiritual adventure we are taking together. Because, this “Emerging Voices” venture, to me, is a kernel of hope and a speck of goodness set out to press against the hatred and bigotry and venom that exists in our universe. I remind myself of my own skeptic path and my journey to a place where I try to help others find what they love inside the body of faith or, also, outside its borders.
I hope this can be a space where we curate the kernels of good, nourish it in ourselves, and water it in others. I am so grateful to be on this journey! And so grateful we share in it together!
I’ll close with a little quote from a little poem in a little book by maybe one of the gentlest purveyors of hope I know. One who touched my heart from the very beginning of my own literary explorations:
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein