This story is obviously far from my mind right now. There are other things that I'm worried about -- like the funeral I in a few hours and the conversation I had with my brother yesterday. He has been released and I'm still uncertain what to do and think about these events. I suppose one can never really know. I tried to disctract myself with literature this afternoon. After all, ppb had suggested bibliotherapy. I started reading Mary Gordon's new book Circling My Mother recently. So I induldged in my favorite luxury -- sipping coffee while people watching in a local coffee shop and reading a good book. I people watch perhaps more than I read. I was distracted by the very cute young man on his laptop who plopped himself right in front of me. And yet, I absorbed one line from my book:
I am miserable, but I learn something very important, that it will be one of the important jobs of my life to honor mourning. To acknowledge that the work of mourning is an honorable job, to insist that its wages be paid, that it be given its due.
The author is referring to her father's death when she was 12 years old -- but this line is true for me. It is my life work. Perhaps it is even my call. It is also my brother's work. Today he told me that he is finally ready to make this his work. He knows now that he must confront the grief of my mother's death when he was only 5 years old. It's painful and it's hard -- but this is the work that we must do.
I'm beginning to really posit the idea that this might be my call. I will preach a sermon about this just after Thanksgiving. This is actually why I picked up this book originally. The topic of grief has been the focus of most of my theological studies. It is what I'm working hardest to figure out. And now, I'm wondering how I share this with those that I serve. I have not told anyone in the church that this is happening in my life. I don't want to bleed all over them. I don't want them to feel that they need to take care of me. And yet, I feel that there is something that moves me toward offering my experience as a witness to these tragic things that we don't understand. In an ideal world, I could model how one handles these tragedies.
I won't tell the whole congregation -- not in my sermon, not in the prayers, not in any moment in worship. That doesn't feel right -- but there does seem to be an opportunity to share with a few. The natural assumption would be the Pastor Parish Relations people. This is an unsafe committee to me. They were established before I arrived and serve both the SP and me. They are in the midst of creating a review process for us -- and I just don't trust them. A colleague suggested that perhaps I form my own support group in the life of the church. Not a separate PPR, but a group of people that I can process with. A group that I can talk about my grief and my pain. A group that I handpick to be church for me. Will this alienate the SP? Is it wise to even ask the question to him that I am thinking about this? Would this create too much friction? Or would this be the first step toward actually caring for myself as a pastor (and having the church care for me)?