Standing, slicing, contemplating how this crisp apple doesn’t resemble apple blossoms, or apple trees, or even last year’s windfallen fruit rotting underneath, yet the potential for these are right there in the seeds scattered on a kitchen cutting board.
Scraping, haphazard, into the compost bowl, mindful of gaps that surface between the ways I want to be, but am.
The way my irritation over a stranger’s rudeness at the supermarket bears no resemblance to my aspirations of love and tenderness for the world.
The way my patience wears thin with others when I’ve procrastinated and now need them to rush, my uncharitable reactions to other drivers on long commutes in traffic, my lack of curiosity when presented with an opposing view, all falling short of the poetry my soul sings in the woods.
My own contradictions and hypocrisy on display, so unlike the beautiful way of being I wish to embody.
It bears considering what potential I’m cultivating, allowing to germinate, and grow.
What will people think? Always bear that question.
They will know we are Christian by our christian values, christian t-shirts, and prayers around flagpoles at public schools we don’t even attend because we are separate, not of them.
Listen to us, your elders, we will show you the way you should go, to mold you into the perfect christian image.
You will not lie. You will not mock. You will not disrespect. You will not forget your manners. You will not lust. You will not cheat, or you deserve just what you get.
If you disobey you deserve the blistered bottom, the lost meals, the harsh words, the shaming, the threat of being shunned. And you will call your friend and tell her you can’t attend her birthday because you broke the rules.
These are the consequences I learned.
You taught them from your sanctuaries, your kitchen islands, your youth group bible studies, your conferences, your words, and I believed you
until I didn’t.
Until I saw the fear I was painting on my own children’s faces, the pain I caused, the shame I inflicted, when I doled out the same manufactured consequences.
Love had to be another way.
Love is kind, patient, protects, does not grow calloused to another’s pain.
But you said I was going astray, ruining them. They would never know right from wrong.
Now I see that was the ruse all along.
To excuse lying if it gets you the court seat To excuse mocking if it only targets “them.” To excuse disrespect if you think it’s deserved To excuse lust if it might have been a joke To excuse gaming the system if it gets you what you want.
To think the end justifies the means, while keeping us all from seeing the means are often everything you told me was wrong.
You would have been my elders but now we’re just adults on different paths with different understandings of God.
I know this sounds like anger. I have been angry. I have argued and tried to convince. I tried to go and never look back.
But I now I see another truth: We’re still part of each other. We were all caught up in the same misguided tide. And my rage, my desperate attempts to convince you, my wanting you to be ashamed for your complicity, have roots in the same poisoned well.
More shame or pain or hurt will never turn the tide. Even if the ruse tells us it’s deserved.
This is the hard part, it calls for courage, for unguardedness I’m not sure that I possess.
I still have far to grow.
I know I can’t come back, But I can be here, arms unclenched, in this loving, spacious wilderness, holding this painful tension, trying, while love beckons you with kindness, with patience, with your own new path.
Because the good news isn’t politics and anger, punishment and fear.
It’s letting go. Breaking free. And finding life anew.