Tuesday, February 24, 2009

learning from humpty dumpty

There are lots of things they don't teach you in seminary. The bases that are covered are primarily academic, with some preaching thrown in (not enough, considering that this is the primary place of impact for many in a congregation), and a handful of courses in the area known as "the practice of ministry." The latter is insufficient.

Blame the pesky shower again this morning, but I got to reflecting on a situation which led me back to some of the inadequacy of our preparation to lead congregations. For instance, we had a single session, led by a priest visiting from another time zone, on conflict. This is quite laughable when you consider the amount of time and energy that conflict consumes in the life and times of a cleric. As a result of an ill-equipped conflict resolution toolbox we end up fending for ourselves and learning on our own, often from our mistakes. This generally means that conflict isn't handled well, if at all. On most days human beings are conflict-averse, and all sorts of other interesting behaviors emerge as a result.

One of the things I remember from our afternoon seminary session had to do with stages of conflict, and how, if you've reached stage four (the Final Stage), you have passed the point of no return. Like humpty dumpty after his tumble from the wall. Those pieces just aren't going to be reassembled.

All of which is to say that there are times when we simply lack the training, experience or innate skills to know best how to approach a situation when it arises. I'm not afraid to ask for help when I find myself in those shoes. I'd much rather appear uninformed and inexperienced than allow a a situation to escalate or deteriorate into what the military describes so colorfully as a SNAFU: situation normal all fouled up (or in similar manner, to borrow additionally from Ken's lexicon: FUBAR: fouled up beyond all recognition). And yet, even with training, natural gifts and the availability of wise counsel, we are dealing with human beings who, like us, are flawed and broken and wanting desperately to find wholeness in the midst of life's messes.

And that brings me to the little graphic above, if you're still with me. Brokenness is inescapably connected to healing. To draw from the humpty dumpty image, we may experience anything from puncture wounds to complete shattering. No matter the extent of our wounding, we yearn for restoration.

Whether we were complicit in losing our balance and falling from the ledge or we were pushed, the end result is the same. The faith of the Church is that God raised from the dead one who was beyond repair, and in that raising made life new again. Jesus still had his wounds and he didn't forget the life left behind. He was changed (we use the word transformed), made new in a way that reflected the power of life over death. We can choose to attach ourself to that power, to seek new life and, in time and with healing, overcome the pain and sting from the death-grip of our wounds. When we make that choice we stake a claim in Life, and from that follows the grace that leads to healing, and from there to wholeness.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

A beautiful reflection. :c) XOXO

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