Good Friday marked the passing of the Dean of Sam's Seminary. And for all the hurt I have from that place, for all the bad memories and the anger and pain, I still mourned.
I cried for his family, I cried for my old community and I cried for us. My heart broke a little for everyone he had cared for and especially for his six children and twenty-seven grandchildren.
He had been a kind man, a man who loved people, the best he knew how.
When I spoke with him and a few others (during Sam's exit from Seminary) and told my story so far, he accepted what I said with grace, and told me "what is important now is for you to heal" and at that time I desperately needed to hear those words. That is how I will remember him.
In many ways now it would be easy for me to say "I have had my time, I'm healed! I'm coming back to the fold!" and I can not deny that the passing of the Dean created this kind of guilt, the kind of guilt I haven't felt in a while. The kind of responsibility to my tradition, my community, my faith.
The funeral was beautiful and moving, and his son said that his father would be pleased if even one person came to know Jesus as a result of the funeral. I knew that, in his care and love for his students, he would be even more pleased if that one person was me.
I don't think I can convey how much I want it to be me.
I miss my community. I miss my status. I miss feeling like I am doing something worthwhile in the world. I miss fitting in, I miss having answers. I miss being good, really good, at something.
Now I don't seem to fit anywhere. I love progressive Christians, and I speak their language. But their enthusiasm for the church and energy to reform and love it has come and gone for me. I love feminists, but I am still such a new feminist, with so much misogynistic baggage, and I can't seem to truly speak with them or state my new-found feminist intersectionality without making some egregious blunder. I love the LGBT community, but I present as an obviously straight, cis-gendered woman and I can not relate to their pain in a way that makes me part of that community. I'm an ally, not truly a member. I love social work and progressive politics, but working through my tea party roots is just exhausting. I love those who are working together to better the earth through all kinds of Green initiatives and yet I do not have the energy to work with them, to make their community my community. I don't speak any language except fundamentalist evangelicalism, and it shows. I haven't yet developed a varied community or another language.
And yes, still strangely happier and more content than I was while living under scrutiny and hoping the umbrella of lies and half-truths I had created would hold up to the prying eyes.
I would love to be back. I would love to be the lost sheep, returning. But I can't do it.
That wouldn't be honest.
I can not be the fundamentalist I once was, who is constantly reevaluating Scripture through Scripture and attempting to make it all fit together in a cohesive, literal bundle.
And yet I can not be the one cherry-picking the good and leaving out the bad, just so I can have my faith, just so I can feel like my soul is secure from eternal damnation.
I do not know where that leaves me, except alone with my questions.
"Non-fundamentalist religion, by definition, depends upon cherry-picking the given religion’s doctrines, discarding the uncongenial teachings and reinterpreting the others to make them more comfortable to live with. Think, for example, of the fact that the majority of Roman Catholics use contraception. The word that accurately and simply describes cherry-picking – choosing manageable commitments and ignoring inconvenient ones – is not a comfortable word; it is ‘hypocrisy’. But it is done with a blitheness, and often with a lack of self-awareness, that religion in some of its forms deliberately seems to promote, preferring half a loaf of adherence to no bread."
Grayling, A.C. (2013-03-26). The God Argument (pp. 6-7). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Kindle Edition.