I don’t sing in the shower. I suppose if singing spontaneously was in my nature (as I know it is for some) then I just might. Instead those few minutes in the morning are times of reflection. I enjoy the luxury of feeling the just-right heat of the water pouring over me, and as I savor the physical warmth my mind often floats to unsuspecting things.
A recent reflection was this. Several years ago I attended a series of lectures held annually at my divinity school. It was the tenth year since my graduation, so in a sense it was a reunion year, but I didn’t know many of the people in my class who had returned. Most of the lectures were fabulous, and I chose to attend a reception where I hoped to see some people I knew. Socializing in a group of people mostly unknown to me is not my favorite thing to do, but I thought it would be worth the discomfort.
One of the people I knew went through the ordination process with me. Betsy was a year or so ahead of me, both in the process and in school, but we overlapped enough that we had sufficient time to get to know each other. I credit her with my introduction to the phrase “holy leisure.”
Our conversation, however, didn’t go as I had thought it might. It was a difficult, challenging year for me professionally, and those same difficulties and challenges had a debilitating impact on me personally. Trusting Betsy, I shared my vulnerability with her. She was compassionate in her response, but she was also candid. She told me I should get some help.
Ouch. I was looking for a shoulder and she gave me truth. Actually, I was getting help, but my pain was deep and the road to healing would be long and exhausting, and I was just at the beginning of that journey. Inwardly I cringed at Betsy’s remark, and felt small. In my less than confident state I imagined that she was looking down at and judging me. I wanted to run the other way, and forever more avoid her.
For some unknown reason all of this came back to me in the shower. What also emerged with that memory was the awareness that Betsy was no longer an imagined demon, but an honest encounter at a bad time. “How had that happened?” I wondered. In the days following my conversation with Betsy any replaying of it left me feeling uncomfortable. But then life pushed me on, and I forgot about it. I can only conclude that somewhere in the intervening years I grew up. Along the way and through the healing that took place my wounds became places of exploration and discovery that doubled as balm for the pain.
Why do I share this? Over and over I encounter individuals that resist revisiting people and places associated with painful memories. It has been my experience that to touch back into a wound leads to the realization that the pain has receded, if not gone away, and that power comes from the discovery that we are more whole than we had presumed. I was reminded of that in the shower, and hope that in sharing this others may feel encouraged.