My weeks are peppered with meetings meetings meetings, all kinds of meetings. Working with the Church of the Larger Fellowship is the most fun I have ever had in an actual job, but if you were to attend all the meetings, it is likely there would be hardly a moment for actually doing anything. We have Theological Reflection or “TR” for short, the “planning all things to all people” meeting which is somehow named the “Big Hairy Meeting” but spelled “Harry” so in my mind I just think “oh, this week we have Harry” and it’s not so scary. There is Adult Faith Development and a monthly regular old staff meeting which is not really about all things to all people but kind of is. And then there are the twice weekly worship meetings. Wow.
Honestly, it’s lovely.
A few weeks back our fearless leader, Rev. Meg Riley, was talking about dealing with children and difficult topics at one of these meetings and she said this: “Do we accompany our children as they go to dark places?”
She was not talking about caves. Or nighttime hikes.
Rev. Meg was talking about helping our children face the dark parts of life—and how those things sometimes come blasting at our children full bore. We can throw our hands out, leap to place our bodies in the path of whatever is happening to our beloved child. And yet sometimes—sometimes there is not one damn thing that we can do to protect that precious being.
They are going to hurt.
Our racist world is going to filter in beyond the enclave we have tried to build. Illness will visit. Family strife: divorce, disease, poverty will find us and by way of us it will find our children. They will experience mental illness, and the hate of dictators and the terror of global warming and its inevitable results. And they will experience the mundane, regular hurts which are not so dramatic but we all know still hurt like hell. Life hurts sometimes. As much as we may try to stop it and prevent it and fix it and hide it, life sometimes just hurts.
And so, do we accompany our children when these things happen? Do we? And if so, then HOW do we accompany them?
Can we witness and allow our beloved children their own experience, not invalidating but allowing them to experience pain and loss and devastation? Can we? Can you? I struggle with wanting to fix it.
No pain, no suffering, no loss. But then of course what happens is that their experience is not validated. They do not feel the healing power of witness. They are left alone on the platform at the train station while I board the “happy train” and completely ditch them.
Well, crap. That’s not a good thing.
And so I try again. Luckily, or horribly, life provides unending chances to navigate pain and loss. So you have ample opportunities to forgive yourself and begin again in love.
Or, well—you go on and do whatever you have to do. I’ll speak for myself.
I have ample opportunities to forgive myself and begin again in love. I will do what I can to accompany my children as they go to dark places. I never want them to be alone there. They need to know that people will love us and walk with us through the most awful of times. We are not alone. They are not alone. I call and text and skype and try to see them in person, but my kids are adults—all grown. It’s not as easy as when they were little and at home and I could sit next to them or bake just the right treat or invite the perfect movie night. Nope. It’s different. And not one bit less important.
I found myself scribbling notes during that particular meeting with Rev. Meg and a bunch of other brilliant CLF folks.
I do not want children; mine or yours or ours or theirs to ever walk through the dark places unaccompanied. May it be so that there is always a treasured adult who says, what…..monsters? Demons? Scary stuff? OK, we got this. Let’s go. Bring it!
And may it be so that sometimes, sometimes….. I will be that adult. Whether they be my own adult kids, my congregation, my neighbor or some random kid I see who just needs a smile. May it be so.