|Sketch of Heart of Compassion Community in Windsor, Ontario, Canada|
|Karen Kerrigan ARCWP, Homilist|
Do I Want to Get Well? Homily Starter by Rev. Karen Kerrigan, Deacon ARCWP Heart of Compassion International Faith Community, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (09 July 17)
Over the years, I have belonged to the 12- Step Program Over-Eaters Anonymous. You may know that the famous book “Alcoholics Anonymous” is often referred to as The Big Book. Many persons who belong to 12-Step programs will refer to their book of Sacred Scriptures as The Bigger Book. In these communities, our first Gospel Reading about the Pool of Bethseda (John 5:1-17) is often referenced because of the key question that Jesus asks the man who has waited by the pool for 38 years, “Do you want to get well?” Except in the 12 steps we often add, “Do you want to get well …. really?”
This is a question that I ask myself as I remember a recent rejection by a priest that I have known for more than 30 years. He was unable to accept my decision to become an ordained deacon. He informed me that he doesn’t want to see me again until we get to heaven. My heart was broken.
I thought telling my priest friend about my ordination was the right thing to do! My journey with The Women’s March Community has taught me to have" conversations that matter" with people with whom you have disagreements. I thought I was on the right track. I prayed over my intention to share my news of my upcoming ordination with this priest. I asked for guidance, for God’s providence and protection, but it appears to me that my choice backfired. Now, I am left with a choice to proceed through a process of healing.
Do I really want to get well? My healing process is modeled on the steps that are outlined in "Shattered Soul? Five Pathways to Healing the Spirit After Abuse and Trauma" by Sue Lauber-Fleming and Patrick Fleming both psychotherapists who accompany persons who have suffered clergy abuse. The first step is asking for courage to face rejection and not trying to re-imagine it as anything other than it is. This courage phase of the process takes time.
Next, it’s time to let myself be angry! I wanted to be treated with joy and love as I tried to present my ordination invitation to my priest friend. Instead, I was warned if I gave him that invitation, it was documentation and he would have to report it to our diocese.
Now I need to show God and a trusted friend how angry I am that a beloved priest confidant threatened to harm my relationships with other institutional Church connections. This anger phase will take time. I am tempted to give him excuses and rationalizations, as women have often done in the face of discrimination that comes from their inner circle. Do I really want to get well?
Then I need to enter the grief phase? I need to grieve the fact that not only did my priest friend choose to refuse my invitation with love and joy, but that our relationship is on thin ice. I have to feel the sorrow that my hoped for and dreamed of relationship will likely not happen.
Finally, along with the love and patience of persons who can journey with me and with the help of God, I need to forgive my priest friend and to allow this hurtful and disappointing experience to transform my heart and my life.
Yes I really want to get well. I will sit by the Bethseda Pool and trust that Jesus will heal me. Will you join me there?
Sharing in Partners:
We realize that not everyone may have a struggle with abuses from clergy or others in the institutional Church, while others here today have serious struggles and are in need of a place where they can share their story. If you have a story, please take this time to share some of it with a partner.
Given our time constraints, we know that what you share now is only the beginning of our healing journey together. You may want to share more later, perhaps with someone in our faith community, our pastoral circle or with a trusted friend or confident, which might include a spiritual director or therapist. We will be having a retreat day in the Fall to explore our healing journeys and to bring all into the healing graces of Holy Presence. Edited by Rev. Dr. Barbara Billey, Priest ARCWP