Tuesday, June 18, 2013


People think that the wilderness is a mountain, a dessert or another remote region. They think that they can get to the wilderness in jeeps, helicopters, dogsleds, camels and whatnot. I woke up in the wilderness this morning, not even remotely close to a remote region. The wilderness is the place where you realize that human customs, institutions and hierarchies are treacherous vipers that will poison the soul. I went to church on Sunday, a week after feeling deeply hurt and betrayed by the same church. There was still a part of me that wanted to take the pastor aside and explain just how deeply I’d been hurt or how it was worse because I’d made myself spiritually vulnerable at that church. I’d made the mistake of putting my whole heart into a ministry, when I should have known that the hatchet’s fall was inevitable.
About halfway through the service I realized that the pastor did not want to hear from me or understand my pain. I realized that pastors, by necessity develop defenses against people like me. If they heard and understood the pain their institutions inflicted they would be unable to get up in the pulpit each Sunday. That’s when what I wanted to say changed. I went from wanting to share my experience and explain my concern that something like this could be very damaging to the faith of a less mature Christian to wanting to say, “It’s OK you’re just a pastor and this is just a church. It was my mistake for ever believing you could be anything different.”
It’s Tuesday and I wake quite certain that human institutions abhor the burning bush I proclaim. My journey to the wilderness has been a thousand hammer blows to the soul. At first the fragments cut like kidney stones. I bled inside while I writhed in pain. I don’t regret the scars. They remind me that God will eventually send me back to be hammered and crushed again. The wilderness, however, is a place to be savored. I breathe the clean air without that whiff of sour smogginess. The good wind comes as it wills and goes likewise. I hold my fingers my heart and my soul out to the wind and feel its embrace.

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