The Guest Room
I just couldn't leave that leering, arrogant white boy as the first image Peacebangers see when they come to this page (Chris Shelton, below: not actor D.M. above! HIS leer and his "Lear" we love!") It offended my heart. Maybe Whatshisname will find his way to a good Universalist church somewhere and learn about his responsibility to humanity and the everlasting love of God even for worms like him. We can only hope.
Meanwhile, I went into my main guest room yesterday to start to gussy it up for the arrival of an esteemed colleague, ABW, next weekend. The guest room is way more whimsical than elegant: cherry print on the bedding, children's art everywhere (courtesy of Sister of PeaceBang, the art teacher), and a pretty big collection of sock monkeys.
I laughed and laughed when I saw the monkey someone made for me in 2000-- a sock monkey dressed in a white preaching robe, with a little stole and a mop of red hair like mine. Big eyelashes. I actually don't remember the name of the woman who made it for me but I do remember the circumstance: she had been raised in a brutally fundamentalist faith tradition and had been attending our UU congregation for just a short while. As New Year's Eve of 1999 rolled around, she found herself filled with a totally irrational and unaccountable terror that this was indeed The End Times and that as we rolled into 2000, God would come on his fiery horses or some such thing (I never was a big fan of Revelation) and destroy the world.
I met with her several times as the date approached, finally moving from an intellectual approach ("You don't have to carry this fear, and here's why") to the prayer that she obviously craved far more but was to embarrassed to request from me.
So we prayed together that God would fill her heart with peace, that she would be relieved of the terrible burden of believing that God exists to judge and condemn the living, and to be honest with ya, it freaked me out plenty. I don't think I had ever been in such intimate ministry with someone who was still so drastically in the grips of "that" God.
Damn sobering. I would drive home trying to imagine what it was like to have that kind of personal wrathful Deity haunting your every thought. And yes, even though I told her I felt very uncomfortable doing it (because there was no such need), I did give her and her children a New Year's Eve blessing of protection. I gave it in the name of my Baba, Anne Lesko, who was also deeply superstitious. I told the family that as much as I felt awkward conferring this blessing, the spirit of my Baba wacked me on the head and said, "No one here cares what *you* think. Go and bless."
Standing in a little circle holding hands with the family I remember saying something like this:
"May the God beyond understanding and beyond naming release us all from fear and banish the man-made God of vengeance and destruction from our hearts, and may we hold each other in love and care at this anxious time. May we welcome in this new year with hope and wonder, and optimism and joy."
When New Year's Day came, crisp and new, I drove by their house and knocked on the door and said, "So, what do you think!!? -- did my blessing avert the Apocalypse!?" We all cracked up and had hot cocoa.
She was so appreciative that she made me a sock monkey of myself. She said that she *meant* it to be a silly gift, as she was beginning to realize the profound silliness of the God she was trying to expunge from her consciousness.
My most ardent blessings go with her today, wherever she may be, that she has succeeded in that most difficult of spiritual work.
Nancy. Her name was Nancy. Love and sock monkeys to you, Nancy.