I was rather shocked at the violence coming in waves of screams, cries, and – as their father entered the room, apparently things had come to blows. “Hey,” he called out, “No punching!”
These were my grandchildren, just over two years apart in age. I don’t know what initiated the altercation, but they were standing toe to toe and the hollering had escalated into physical violence. I was listening from the kitchen.
“I want you two to apologize to each other,” said Dad. I heard the faint exchange of apologies. “Now,” continued their father, “I want you to hug each other.”
I had wandered into the room by this time and watched as two innocent looking children – one just beyond the toddler years and the other a month into kindergarten – faced each other, stepped toward one another with out-stretched arms, and embraced. And that was it. They then continued to play as if there had been no problem. In fact, I never knew what the precipitating factor was in their brief, but intense argument. I was amazed at how quickly they recovered their composure, stated their apologies, embraced each other, and moved on. If only all of life’s hurts could be dealt with like that.
My reading of blogs recently has brought me to writings by people who have been hurt, deeply hurt by the religion of their childhood. Moral codes they struggled to follow (like April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy) were more about paralyzing them than protecting them. Rather than awe in the midst of beautiful mystery, they came away frightened of a vengeful God. How can something with so much power for good turn into something so grotesque and painful? How can truth intended to give us “abundant life” become so life-draining? What have we done? What are we still doing?
One of the things that amazes me is how many of these wounded people continue to hope that “church” can become what they need for healing. I’m amazed at the staying power of people who have been torn apart, looking to the same reality to put them back together again.
John Wesley’s first rule for Methodists is “Do no harm.” That is so incredibly simple – do no harm! In our words, our deeds, our thinking. But once the harm is done, then what?
An acquaintance of mine introduced me to an acronym: MIRMO. “Make it right. Move on.” This was her mantra. It worked for her because she worked hard at it. And it seemed to work for her because it is so simple.
I hope these wounded folk who are reaching out to God and to new expressions of an ancient institution can find the healing they long for. They are working hard. Can the church get away with just saying “I’m sorry”? What is it going to take for us – all of us – to confess we are hurt, and that we have hurt others? From whence – from Whom will the healing come? Will we ever be able to move on together?