8/5/2019 8:44am Blogging has been slow. When my life declines, I stop writing. Also, I’ve been editing. Remember My Record is True? The name of my book has changed to Do You Feel Safe Today? courtesy of my new editor. Deep diving into editing changes you—you go far left brain instead of right and your creativity drops off. However, the real reason the blogging has diminished is I’ve been in mourning.
Wellspring Praise Band
Four years ago, after being cured of an aggressive and rare cancer, empowered by the healing prayer of the team at Christ United Methodist Church, I immersed myself in my church community: playing piano in the praise band, singing for the early service, holding prayer appointments, praying with the intercessory prayer and assisting the healing team. Rhythms of life wrapped lovingly around the days I spent in service to God. Writing for the church newsletter was deeply meaningful, especially as I continued the search for a publisher for my book. As spirituality emerged in the presence of this worship community, we grew together in faith. I volunteered as an ERT: Emergency Relief work after the hurricane led me to rediscover my eastern North Carolina roots. Traveling to homeless shelters and the farm workers initiative with church members strengthened our outreach efforts as we struggled to find God in such poverty and devastation. Even grocery shopping was simple as an organic store sat beside the church making popping in for limes, ginger, cumin and kale a cinch.
After my resurrection, interest in healing prayer consumed me. And as my private practice began to decline, I was content. Never marketing myself as a psychiatrist, I trusted God to bring the people who needed healing. Life was good and I was busy. Not dying from cancer has taught me to let go and trust. Yet now I find myself grasping because the new minister we were assigned last summer has eliminated all of this. All of it. For four years our prayer team set the groundwork for our church to become a church of reconciliation and healing. We eagerly awaited our new leader, praying atonement so that something fresh could move in. Would we open a multi-disciplinary clinic for indigents, expand the healing service and move it to the sanctuary, facilitate and collaborate with other churches in our annual healing conference? Excitement grew as we awaited his arrival. And yet here I am just one year later with everything dismantled. There is no healing service, no praise band, the praise leaders got fired. The director of our Children’s Ministries resigned and other associate ministers have been fired or bullied into quitting. The intercessory prayer team has scattered. This was all done by active omission not commission, therefore it was difficult to mount a defense. I am a healer without a church, a prayer without a prayer team, a singer and pianist without a band. Oh, the lamentation, anger and mourning that has accompanied these losses.
Worshipping in community is necessary for my survival, yet I struggle to endorse the church as an institution. When a leader dismisses prayer without an uprising from the congregation, how can you continue to believe? “Fundamentalist” or mega churches believe in healing and prayer, preaching from the gospel but are legalistic. “Welcoming” communities fit my understanding of human nature and the Bible but rarely have healing services or intercessory prayer teams. I’m in the null set again. Having rotated there since childhood, I am familiar with isolation and loneliness but it doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Who am I in Christ without a worshipping community of believers? And how did I attach to this group of Christians when not one person has called to say “we miss you” despite the fact that I served twelve to fifteen hours a week for four years? I’ve been erased and am reinventing myself, again.
In attempting to do that, I attended a three-day silent retreat with a contemplative group seeded by three faith communities. It was lovely. Being so intimately connected with others while being relieved from the burden of small talk is a place I long for and rejoice in deeply. Intimate sharing occurred with this group of strangers, none of whom I had met until the day we gathered. But when I returned home, I was melancholy. There was no piano or drums, no belting out praises to the Lord in four four time to a beautiful, melodious guitar, no healing prayer. As the realization settled that in order to find the new, the old has to be fully released, sadness enveloped me like a dense impenetrable fog. I’m struggling to accept reality. It’s painful.