Posts Tagged ‘Authenticity’

Tuesday Night Church with Garrison Keillor

May 26, 2017

I had the opportunity to go to church last Tuesday evening. We were ushered to our seats and after the announcements were finished the preacher finally entered on stage. The staging area, for lack of better descriptors, was simple, non-ornate, curtains hung on the three surrounding walls, with only a single four-legged stool, and a lone microphone stand and mic.

This preacher was simply dressed, dark suit, white shirt, bright red tie with socks to match. He began a kind of dance, if you will, with the audience, moving deliberately from side to side, each step and slide appeared chosen and exact, and periodically he would sit on the stool. At one point of small intermission, he came down from the stage and joined us in the center aisle. He began his sermon speaking of poetry and the longing need for the art in our culture and society.

He then did a curious thing, he sang a song, and then he invited us to join in the singing with him. There was something about this invitation, and part of it was what I brought into the space with me, the experiences and knowledge that I carried into the sanctuary that night; my readings of this persons writing regarding his own political thoughts and struggles with the current political climate, the laughter I have shared listening to his radio show, and the shared grief in knowing he had just buried his seventeen year old grandson earlier that day…which he never mentioned.

I must think it was a bit of all of that, but I was touched and struck profoundly for some reason as he coaxed us into the first song we sang, My Country Tis of Thee, I couldn’t sing it, the knot in my stomach, the lump in my throat, and the tears in my eyes would not allow me to sing. So, I stood, soaking in, reveling in whatever this moving moment was about, and listened to the voices sing of this country of mine…of ours.

We sang Home on the Range, How Great Thou Art, Only Fools Rush In, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. These are but a few of the songs we sang; hymns, non-religious songs, we heard Shakespeare and poetry written by our preacher. We heard story after story of life and death and faith. We listened to stories of first loves, of bodies pressed against unclothed body, stories of youth and struggling to understand. We heard stories of growing old and health challenges complete with anatomically correct descriptions of medical procedures and prostates. We heard poetry that spoke of bodily function and humor referring to balls of brass and lightening coming out of one’s …well, ass.

And we sang, and laughed, I don’t know about anyone else but at least one cried, and pondered, and was touched deeply, and encouraged, and challenged. I am not sure what anyone else heard that night in the Stiefel Sanctuary, but here is what I walked away with. I witnessed a quiet man with a deep, deep love of country, family, relationship, and life. I watched him weave the stories of life, faith, humor, and love into a tapestry so very real it touched my heart and soul almost from the very beginning of his speaking. And for a couple of hours, I watched this teller of stories, draw a crowd of diverse people together into one place and into one voice.

As we walked back to our car I told TruDee, “I’ve been to church tonight… it was SO REAL!” Sometimes, this story he told over almost two and half hours that night was not just his story, it was my story, it was all of our stories at some point. There was something within this tapestry of telling that spoke to every one of us in the building at some point or another. It was so very REAL.

Sometimes, while I ponder, I wish the church could be so real more often, rather than the too frequent of hiding behind self-righteousness, feigned humility and modesty, religious platitudes, judgement, and condemnation.

Sometimes, while I ponder, I wish the church would simply be about the task of loving everyone, everyone, bumps, warts, body parts, young, old, weird, strange, different, … the REAL world, imperfect as it…as we are… just trying to make it through this journey together.

Sometimes, while I ponder, I long for such a world, a world where we sit down with our elders, with our peers, with our children and children’s children, and simply tell and listen to our stories…without judgement or condemnation, without correction or critique, simple telling and hearing our authentic selves and what brought us to this moment.

I long for such a place…

Some Day… Some Day…

Until then, tell your story… find a reason to listen to someone else’s.

And know you and they are beautiful and loved.

Kent

Searching for Freedom

May 19, 2017

TruDee had told me she heard noises for several nights. Noises like the wind blowing an open door or window. When she would investigate, there was nothing to be found. One evening we were sitting in the living room and I heard it as well. My thought was it must have been a bird hit a window, it was just a short, “Thump.”

I had gone to bed early one night later and when she came to bed she said she thought something was in the basement probably in one of our window wells. She had heard the thump again and then scratching. We have had bunnies fall through the wooden slates that cover the opening to the window wells in the backyard before. I did not check it that night.

The next morning, I went downstairs to check out what kind of creature we had in the basement thumping and scratching around. The window well in the bedroom seemed to be clear as near as I could tell with the flashlight on my phone. When I checked the larger well in the family room it appeared there was nothing there either. That is, until I final saw movement, a dark gray rounded creature burrowed in the corner under some leaves and yard debris that had blown into the well. It was an armadillo. I suspect the cornered creature found itself in this predicament after being chased across the yard by our two dogs, I don’t know that for sure… but, well, it is highly likely.

After researching online and doing a Facebook Hivemind request I was still unsure what to do. Armadillos are not easily captured. To try and catch one by hand is difficult as they can jump, they have sharp teeth, a hard shell, and an attitude. All of this and the fact they can carry rabies as well as possibly Hansen’s Disease, i.e. leprosy. After learning government animal control only deals with domestic animals, I knew this was not going to be an easily resolved problem. The last thing I wanted to do was be in an eight foot deep, five by four foot hole with a jumping, armored, sharp toothed, possibly disease toting, armadillo with an attitude.

TruDee gave me the idea when she suggested a large tub with some food to coax it in and put a lid on it, it had to be hungry after being in a hole for several days. That got me to thinking, it was confined, armadillos are nocturnal, it had nothing to eat or drink for at least three or four days… surely it would be lethargic. I went home, retrieved a large plastic tub, threw in some dog food for good measure, opened the large window for access to the well, and sat the tub on end opposite our guest. I took a four-pronged rake and just nudged it gently to see how it would react. It stood up and turned aroDillound in the corner and just looked at me. I reached beyond it with the prongs of the rake and pulled it just a few inches toward the tub to see what it would do. Nothing…just sat there and looked at me. So, I placed the prongs of the rake firmly against its side and gave it a quick more forceful jerk and pull… it basically rolled right into the tub, I sat the tub up, snapped the lid on, taped it shut, loaded it in the car and drove our guest armadillo several miles south of town and set it free. The armadillo, I imagined, and I were very pleased with the outcome.

Sometimes I tell stories because they have taught me a deeply profound lesson about life and faith. Sometimes I tell stories because they are simply good stories and they make me smile and feed my soul.

This story I think was as much just about the story as it was anything else. And at the same time, it might have something to say to me, to those for whom it resonates, there are times in our lives we might find ourselves trapped, unable to see our way to freedom, and sometime through no fault of our own, it can just happen. It can be lonely in those places, dark, body and soul sucking places and spaces that drain us and leave us huddled in a corner wondering what more could possibly go wrong.

And then something happens, someone happens along the way to coax us out of our corner with a little nudge, and little shove, a little nourishment, and a reminder that this hole we have found ourselves in is not where we belong. It is the truth of who we are that sets us free. Free to be our authentic self, just as we are, unconfined and unrestricted by society or even the church, but rather acknowledged for the wondrous creature we are, remembering whose we are as children of the Divine with a crucial and irreplaceable place in this community, in this world, in this humankind.

May the walls and holes you encounter be few. May there always be a little nourishment for your body and soul. May you always have community close by who are willing to risk themselves to help set you free. May there always be community nearby willing to give you a little nudge or even a firm shove to remind you to be who you are.

You Are Beautiful! You Are Enough! You Are Not Alone!

Peace and Light for Your Journey!

Pastor Kent.