It’s summer. It’s been warm. The parish we attend locally doesn’t have air conditioning in the main Church. I’m not complaining, just helping to set the scene. There are 6 or 8, much needed, industrial fans located around the Church to help move air when it’s hot and sticky outside. We are blessed to have two Priests serving our rather large parish. The pastor is a native of Bean Town, having grown up in Maine, I can easily understand him. The Associate is a native of India, who speaks English rather well, however I struggle to understand. The background noise of the fans doesn’t help. There are moments when he’s preaching where he gets excited (I like this), the struggle remains as his volume goes up, the words are closer together, and the fan noise. So I find my mind wandering all over the place.
The prayer lately is “Where do you want me Lord?” Because honestly I have no clear sense of this. When I’m riding home on the bus, at the end of a very long day, I have a deep sense of home. I’m home, here in NY. When I get home that sense deepens. Okay, admittedly it’s enhanced by my sweeties mad cooking skills, and my recliner but I’m home. I’m open to moving where ever God wants but there is something about NY and Home. Then there is the whole, we’ve lived in this place for almost 20 years, the thought of packing up is a little daunting. But there is a deep feeling of home.
A few weeks ago I picked up Don’t Forgive too Soon by Dennis and Shelia Linn and Fr. Matthew Linn. Having read the Ragamuffin Gospel which has a deep focus on mercy and love, reading more on forgiveness seems just right. Part of the focus is a non-violent response, which is, in its core, a re-claiming of our very dignity as children of God. Turning the other cheek is that non-violent act of claiming that equality.
The reading last night Dennis & Shelia shared their experience at a food buffet. Dennis, at one point, starts examining the feelings behind his anger response – and it gets down to shame. Shame is powerful. We see shame in Genesis with Adam and Eve. We see shame in Genesis again with Cain & Abel. We see very much what shame does.
I am beginning to see how experiences of being belittled (shamed) shape my own personal response to situations, and to people. I can see how one situation having a deep effect on another. I get why. I am uncertain as to how to fix it because an explanation, while needed, might not make sense. Honestly, I have no real reason in this particular situation to be ashamed. However that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to examine the lead in to the situation and figure out what led to this in the first place. The more I think about this the more I can see what led to it. I can deeply imagine the intensity of feelings that might have been aroused, causing a rift in a relationship. As I write I can see more. As the memories of this flood back I can see the moment where I reclaimed my dignity by saying I’ll be friendly but I won’t work on projects. I can see the look of disappointment on the person asking me to do this. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m placing myself in a situation where I can be slapped in the face again.
I can also see where this particular situation is holding me back from pursing something of a dream job. (As I started writing this sentence “Oceans” started playing on the station I listen to.) That and the realization that I’m not “corporate”. This is something I’ve known deep down for years, and while the possibility exists to adopt a more “corporate” identity, the more I think about this the more I’m uncertain that this is good. I’m a casual Friday kind of gal. But I wonder if what’s really holding me back is shame or feelings of inadequacy. While I have a lot to learn, I certainly have a handle on my own field, which is a bonus!
And as I was thinking about mercy, grace, forgiveness, healing, peace, shame, fear, and all that these bring with them, one thing I’d been wondering about quilterly-wise came into better focus: most of what is underneath the “I could never do that”, “it’s not good enough”, “if I had this thing, then I could do” is shame, covered by a thin veneer of pride. We’re afraid to show our work to other quilters because they might point out our flaws. Yeah, they probably will. The deeper truth is that we already know the location of each, and every flaw.
We’re afraid to practice quilting because we’re going to make mistakes. Yep, that’s certainly true. We will make mistakes. That’s why God had someone invent the seam ripper.
We’re afraid to have our feelings hurt, or have had our feelings hurt deeply by something someone said. It’s going to happen. We hurt others too, sometimes deeply, often unintentionally.
We’re afraid to enter our quilts into shows because of what the judges might say. Um, we want their feed back, right?
No quilt is perfect. No quilter is perfect. And yes, someone might say something awful about our quilts, and it might hurt. But. What about all of the beauty that comes from it? What about the gift of sharing? What if that thing that is said is the very thing we need to hear in order to grow.
What if I set aside my fear, and that lack of a “corporate” image and applied for the jobs I want?
While I have difficulty understanding one of our Priests, I am grateful he’s there, celebrating the Eucharist.