I attend two different churches. One meets in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I don’t always attend both services but I find it interesting when the two preachers both choose the day’s lectionary passage as is what happened yesterday. The passage was Matthew 14:22-33. Both sermons spoke to my TBI in an indirect way. I’m going to write one post about how each sermon affected me beginning with Ken Sehested, the preacher at Circle of Mercy.
The passage is a familiar one. Jesus left his disciples on the boat while he went off to pray. A storm came and Jesus walked on the water toward their boat. The disciples were afraid and Peter said, “If it is you, help me walk to you on the water.” Peter did but the wind was strong and he became frightened and began to sink. Jesus saved him in that storm. Ken focused his sermon on all the ways we “do the water walk.”
He said “the water walk will take us to risky places, maybe even places where we’ll get in over our heads……..We do not get to where we’re going because we’ve mapped a clear path to the destination of our choosing, however bright and wonderful that destination may be. Our long-range planning conclusions may have to be scrapped. The way forward won’t appear until we start walking. We may have to give up on some big dreams in order to stumble on to some truly gigantic ones. Our biggest asset will not be our strength but our nimbleness.”
“Nimble” according to Websters means “quick-witted; alert; moving or acting quickly and lightly.” Now folks with a brain injury do not act quickly. In fact, we act pretty slowly and carefully. The neurons in our brains have slowed down which means it takes us longer to think about and do things. I think my greatest asset is a willingness to try new things until I find something that works.
After determining that working as a minister at a church wasn’t possible, I tried being a volunteer at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. This is a community that works with homeless folks and folks in prison. They have a soup kitchen, offer showers and clothes, provide a public bathroom, phone and have worship and reflection times through out the week. My vocational therapist went with me there to help me figure out how to do my tasks. Although I support their ministry it just didn’t work for me since it was too chaotic of an environment.
I then volunteered at a hospice but the patients there slept all day so that didn’t work. I finally walked into the chaplain’s office at a local retirement community to see if they needed a volunteer chaplain there. This was definitely a “water walk.” I met the head of the chaplain’s office who was always busy and I don’t know how I managed to catch him at that time. As a result, I spent several years volunteering there. I was able to help with pastoral visits, chapel services and other functions. I had some supervision from the director and I also took a clinical pastoral education program there.
This “water walk” is not the walk I wanted. I’ve scrapped the destination I chose and now I am in a risky place. Ken said yesterday, “Our future is more likely to spring up in our midst, to surprise us, maybe even shock us, possibly even threaten us. The water walk means we need to be ready to expect the unexpected. ” While TBI survivors don’t do well with unexpected situations, I am on this walk now waiting for what God has is in store for me.