I grew up in a narrow world. I came of age where small thought, exclusive faith, shame-filled hiding, and rightly held beliefs were common. There was no act of seeing – no spiritual understanding of the sacred all around us. The narrow way was a thin way where everyone was very, very proud, right, and loud. Then one painful autumn my world split wide open, splayed bare and broken. I fell headlong into a pit of despair. And I sat there. I sat there in the silence and quiet of it all taking stock of my body and spirit. Once the tears stopped, I breathed in deep and wondered if the broken pieces of me would heal straight. I wondered if I would be OK again. Then I stood up and I began to make my way back out again. I did this on my own.
Once I clawed myself scuffed kneed and bloody handed out of the muck and mud of that deep ravine I had tumbled into I found life again. Stepping out onto the trail by the water’s edge I found the Divine whispers. I found myself minus the religious mantras and deadly voices. It was me daily losing the poisonous baggage.
The Act of Seeing
Daily I took to the path. One morning I remember standing on the trail looking down into the woods. I had never gone deep into the greenery before. I had stuck to the path and played it safe for as long as I could remember. But that morning I made a decision to take that path down into the forest off the paved trail and I kept walking. Down in the valley between the ridges of houses I could no longer see I walked deep into the darkness of the forest and I kept trudging. Step after step I moved further away from the known, paved route. There was no one around. I was completely alone. I stumbled along beside the creek listening. The only sounds were my heartbeat, my breath, and the moving stream.
Suddenly a branch snap echoed through the brush and the trees and I stopped. I took my eyes from my feet to the forest ahead and I found myself yards away from a family of white-tailed deer.
We were face to face.
I berated myself for not paying better attention to the trail ahead instead of focusing downward on my feet. I was so concerned with tripping over something that I had missed the beauty and the danger of not surveying my surroundings. A doe stood watching me. Sensing the danger and wondering what I was going to do next, I spoke quietly to her. I am not sure who I was trying to convince that we were safe together: her or myself.
We stood this way – yards away from one another– waiting to see who of us would move first. Suddenly and deliberately she jumped further up the hill towards her young ones and away from me. I paused for a moment longer watching them and then started off again down the trail of my own making. As I moved on I made sure to watch everything before me and behind me and below me.
This happened during my year of silence.
After the fracturing away from church and the pain, once the bleeding stopped and I settled into what I needed to learn from silence – there was nothing to do, but keep moving forward. I prayed the prayers and spoke quietly into the nothingness, tried to listen well. But still I wept when the phantom pains of church fellowship stung as a throbbing reminder of what I had lost and who I had been.
There was no one to witness my unraveling. And there was barely anyone to witness this new becoming.
I prayed out into the universe for eyes to see… healed eyes.
This opened me wide. The possibilities in the answers to that prayer are endless.
Because God is not limited in how he sees. She is not as narrow in sight as we are. She is not boxed to only one way of knowing, understanding, doing, and being.
He has an expansiveness that we can only touch on the fringe.
She has a way of seeing we can only understand in part – not in whole. Maybe I will understand one day: the whole of things seen and unseen. Right now I am limited by the lack of clarity and health of my eyes, the depth of my faith, the breadth of hope, and my willingness to be ABLE. There is something to be said for being able.
How I see matters.
My eyes witness only the God of love who commands love of her children.
I see only the God of hope and purpose and passion.
The God of my youth is beyond recognition now. Their god isn’t the Divine I have come to know as true.
Honestly I have no clue how to reconcile it all.
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This is post 5. in a month long series on Confronting My Church Wounds. The other posts in the series can be found below: