I don’t want to accept life as it is which is why I’m often stressed and depressed. I’m angry because I can’t be a minister at a church. I’m angry because I haven’t been able to improve my preaching. I’m angry because I can no longer play my violin or my viola. I’m angry because I can’t be in large, chaotic groups for very long. I won’t accept life as it is which makes me even angrier!
I don’t know what I believe about death but I do believe this: I need to help bring new life to this world right now. For many people, this is through children and grandchildren. I’m out of luck there so the new life I must leave is different. Who knows how much time I have? To be honest, I’m not too happy with the amount of new life I have brought thus far but I figure I still have a couple of years so I’m getting to work!
I love John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” It’s funny because the Sunday after 9/11 in 2001, I was scheduled to preach my first sermon at Oakhurst Presbyterian in Atlanta and I was scared to death. I’ve always gotten nervous when I preached but after the brain injury this increased ten-fold. I’m told I don’t look nervous but I’m always a mess inside.
I had already written the sermon using John 10:10 when the planes crashed into the Trade Center. I remember calling the pastor, Nibs Stroupe, and offering him the pulpit. He said, “No, you do it.” I suspect he didn’t want to preach that Sunday either! I liked the sermon and changed it a little to fit the day but when I got up to preach that Sunday, the place was packed to the rafters.
I don’t know what it is but after I get over my initial nervousness which is always huge, I let go and preach the sermon just fine. I get energy from the congregation which happened that day. It’s a wonderful memory for me and I’m so grateful to Nibs for allowing me to preach that morning. What is really hard for me to fathom right now is, yesterday was Sept. 11 and it’s all coming back.
Anne Lamotte describes wanting to make things right as her sister-in-saw was dying and when her son became a father at a young age. “This is what I did,” she writes. “I surrendered. I lay down my weapons and went over to the winning side. I am a recovering Higher Power.” I love that phrase for I am one too.
These past 18 years, I figured I would work on my preaching and pastoral care skills and help bring new life that way. This is one reason I volunteered as a chaplain at Wesley Wood Retirement Center in Atlanta. I figured it would be a step in the right direction. Even now, deep inside I want this. I know it isn’t possible, but I can’t seem to let it go.
However, like Anne Lamotte, I’m surrendering and going over to the winning side. “I am a recovering Higher Power” and it’s time for me to get real about my life. She writes about something she learned from Veronica, a pastor she had fifteen years ago. “Veronica said that when she had no clue what direction to take, she imagined standing in a spotlight, as if on stage, and waited, prayerfully, until one more spotlight began to appear nearby. Then she would go stand in that circle of light.”
I don’t have a picture of a spot light, but my friend took a picture of the full moon we had a couple of nights ago. She took it with her camera phone so it isn’t great, but I’m crazy about moons. This one reminds me to wait for the circle of light. New life will come. I only have to wait in the darkness a little while longer.
Do you have any reflections after reading this? What does being “a recovering higher power” mean to you?