Under the Bridge

“Forget your perfect offering. Ring the bell that still can ring. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

This is the second in a series of posts talking about some of the cracks that I’ve perceived or received from members of the congregation, cracks we need to be talking about if we are to mend our container.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks since the start-up, and I’m grateful for those who are reaching out to share the questions that they’re wrestling with.

One of the things that was shared during the start-up and has been a continuing thread in my conversations, was a reflection that at Westside “conflicts have to become significant before we attempt to resolve them.” 

It makes me think about those cracks in the wall of the first house I bought with my ex-wife. When we moved in there were some really big cracks in the plaster upstairs. If they’d been dealt with when they were small, it would have taken just a little work to patch and fill, but over time they grew wider and filling them became much harder, much more complicated, and those repairs were themselves always more fragile. The same holds of cracks in a bowl, or any vessel, like this ship of ours.

I’ll be talking about this a little more in Sunday’s sermon, but it’s been interesting to me how frequently I’ve heard folks talk about “letting bygones be bygones,” or how they’re struggling with things that they feel should just be “water under the bridge” by now. 

We’ve all heard the old adage that “time heals all wounds,” but that’s honestly never been my experience. 

Has it been yours? 

My experience has been that those wounds, those cracks, that aren’t addressed, just become lingering layers of resentment, and while they may fade from my mind in the day-to-day, they can come back with even the slightest connecting triggers, and they’re just as raw and real, regardless of how much time has gone by.

When struggles are coming up for folks now, it’s not at all uncommon, as they talk about it, for the past unresolved issues to come up right alongside them, sometimes cascading through a decade or more of unresolved issues.

And it gets harder each time because our collective histories of not dealing with these issues, invites a fear that the new ones won’t be dealt with either, so we start to not say anything at all. 

And eventually all of it reaches a point where we simply can’t handle it and things explode.

We want to be able to shift our culture and practice to one where, when mistakes are made or harm is caused, that we don’t push it under the rug or tell folks to get over it.

Instead we want to move into those places when they’re still small, building up our trust that we’ll still be here for one another, our trust that others will care for our feelings and seek to make the relationship whole again.

It doesn’t have to be true that “everyone gets hurt, it’s just part of life, and people need to learn to deal with it.” We are a people gifted at imagining other ways of being together.

So let us dream together and let commit together to dealing with conflict as it arises rather than waiting for it to reach a boiling point, waiting for it to come to some threshold that says, “Well, now we just can’t avoid it anymore.”

Let’s make the threshold smaller, and come to say, “we don’t have to, or even want to, avoid it anymore.”

I’ll spend some time in the future talking a little about how past unresolved experiences and traumas live in our bodies, but if you’re looking for more thoughts on the subject I really appreciated the book, The Body Keeps the Score (a bestseller at our local Paper Boat Books), and Resmaa Menakem’s interview on the OnBeing podcast from last summer. 

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