It’s no secret that I love being in the UUCV Choir. And it’s no secret that songs get stuck in my head. Happens all the time…..but sometimes, songs get stuck there for a reason.
I haven’t been able to get our latest choir piece [we’ll be singing it this Sunday in church if anyone is interested] out of my head for two solid weeks now. It’s a piece originally written by Avalon, arranged and “tweaked” by our awesome director, David Glasgow.
It’s called I Bring It to You…..and it’s timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Between the song, and the other stuff that’s been floating around in there, it’s been an interesting week to be in my brain.
Last Sunday night, I wrote a blog post titled “Of Crash Helmets and Trigger Warnings.” I wrote it in MS Word, as I do all my posts….and I almost didn’t publish it.
It felt too personal.
Exposing the depths of one’s soul is scary. Especially when some of the corners, and well, let’s face it, some of the not so dark corners, have ‘junk’ in them.
I almost didn’t publish it.
Yes, I hit copy….but I had a real dilemma.
Where do I paste it?
Into a private email to someone who I know already knows a lot of the ‘junk’ and has promised to both walk with me through it and keep reminding me that it’s worth it [hat tip to the one and only Rev. Aija, whose presence in my life I’m so very grateful for] …..
Do I paste it into my blog and put it out there for the world to see? [or the 20 or so people who read my blog regularly – yes, that’s an accurate statistic. I checked my stats]
A phrase kept echoing through my mind as I literally sat with my finger hovering over the ctrl+v keys.
“The gift of going second.”
“The gift of going second.”
I couldn’t shake it.
So I pasted it into my blog, hit publish, and went to bed.
Monday morning, I woke to no less than 9 emails. By the end of the day, it was 15. By Tuesday, more than two dozen…..mostly from people I’d never heard of.
I didn’t understand.
I checked my stats.
That can’t be right.
There are literally 5 people who follow the blog officially, getting emails when I update, and my stats have topped out at about 20 views per post. I don’t have a huge readership.
But there it was.
And all the emails.
“Dear Christin – I was an officer too….”
“Dear Christin – I left three years ago…..”
“Dear Christin – I didn’t think god could ever love me again…..”
“Dear Christin – I feel like I could have written this….”
“Dear Christin – I’m not sure I believe you yet, but I want to believe you’re right about it being worth it….”
“Dear Christin – this gave me hope that I can survive without my uniform….”
I was blown away.
For the past five years, I’ve felt like my soul has been in tatters. Like I had nothing to offer. Nothing of consequence to say. Like no one would want the pieces.
I think a lot of people feel this way.
How many times a day, a week, are we asked, “How are you?”
And we answer, “Fine!” “Good.” “Doing okay!”
Because we don’t think people actually want to hear what’s going on.
It’s become a platitude.
And we become conditioned to respond in the positive, even when it isn’t true – because we know that it’s meaningless.
We all need a person, a group of people, where we can bring ALL the pieces of our lives, tattered as some of them may be, and lay them out on the altar of community. The joys, the hurts, the worries, the celebrations, the dark places that you desperately want to hide and forget…a place where we can bring it all.
And maybe, we’ll find, as we bring our ‘stuff’ to the altar, we’ll begin to see that other people have brought theirs too. That we’re not alone in our experiences. That the person standing next to you, red faced, awkwardly holding their own tattered pieces, is just as nervous, just as vulnerable, as you are – and they desperately want the same things……
To be seen.
To be loved.
To hear someone weep when they weep.
Laugh when they laugh.
And they, like you, are wishing with all their heart that they won’t have to go first.
That someone else will take the plunge.
And the rest of us can echo back a relieved, joyous “You? Me too!”
That, my friends, is all any of us really want and need.
And it’s terrifying.
But it’s possible.
It’s a lesson I’m just learning for myself.
And it’s a hard lesson to learn.
I’ve found that place – that altar of community – at UUCV. But there are days when I can hardly bring myself to walk through the doors. I struggle to make eye contact with Aija, because it feels like she can see into my soul. I fight the urge to bolt immediately after services.
But I’m learning.
Learning to listen.
Learning to let myself be seen.
It’s possible, this thing we call community.
And you can bring your stuff here. Leave it here. I moderate all comments, so if you don’t want something to appear publically, just say so, and I won’t put it up. But please know that if you’re reading this, I’m listening.
You can bring your own tattered pieces and add them to the altar.
Whatever it is
Whoever you are
You are welcome here
With your joys
With your hurts
With your worries
There’s a phrase that is used a lot at my church. I’ve come to believe it with all my heart – so I’ll just close with this:
We need each other more than we know.