Sunday, August 07, 2005

baby steps, land and water

I know the Lectionary is fixed major league, big time, and I know that the Music Director at St. Spike's has his music sorted out well in advance.

But sometimes it seems like someone has psychically intuited my needs-of-the-moment and picked things out just for me.

I hauled myself over to St. Spike's this morning. I felt worse than I did yesterday because I had big trouble getting to sleep last night - up past two because I didn't feel well. I woke up at eight-ten and managed to get myself showered, dressed, caffienated, and muffined before my eight-forty-five appointment, after which I got back in my car (having grabbed my prayer book beforehand) and barreled on down for 10 am service. Not bad for Anemia Girl. Go me.

S. was there as I walked slowly up the steps to the south narthex and gave me a big hug. We chatted some and I went on inside to find my seat. I sat next to L., who I had worked with on Altar Guild until the big schedule rearrangement (interestingly, my name was in the bulletin today as being on AG ... must remind C. to send the office the Updated Schedule).

The first thing I checked in the bulletin was "who's doing healing station today". One of the things I'd gotten out of my early morning therapy appointment was that it was ok to pray about whether I should go up or not. I had also previously determined that I didn't have to stand when I usually stood (as it happened, I sat down for the offertory hymn and decided to adopt the Episcopal Butt-Perch for the Eucharistic Prayer, but otherwise my energy pretty much held out).

We sang "Precious Lord" as our sequence hymn, which was a very moving musical experience; not only did it "foreshadow" the Gospel, it was Quite Right for my mood.

But at some point, I think during the communion (I was in the back, so had time to contemplate this), I started crying; I was running through the "do I or don't I?" and thinking "I'm sick, I'm hurt, and I'm scared" and "how do I articulate what is going on without TMI or whining?", all the while the echoes of the song and sermon and Peter's Big Panic were bouncing around my tiny brain. Are you swimming with me, Jesus? (With a hat tip and so much more to the fabulous LutheranChik.)

And shortly after I felt L's hand, ever so gently, on my shoulder.

Shortly after that, the hand went down, and when I was ready, I reached over and squeezed L's hand.

Then I excused myself to go up and have Fr. Owen lay his hands on me.

As I left the healing station and headed in the direction of the rail, the deacon was coming down the chancel steps to see about communing those of us left at the healing station. When she saw me I got the impression of gears engaging very briefly - almost, but not quite, a "what are *you* doing at the healing station, missy" sort of look.

I normally receive with eyes downcast, but I looked her full on (again, this wasn't a challenging-type thing) as I held up my hands.

I went back to my seat and tried singing the communion hymn, but found myself unable to. Still working through, I guess. I appreciated the music, though. I'm generally impressed with how well the congregation can carry a tune.

L. stopped me briefly at coffee hour, which I wasn't expecting (as it was her AG day). She said "if you don't want to talk" but I was able to talk. She had thought it was about my mother (I put Mom on the long-term prayer list). After she went back to the sacristry, I was able to move around (slowly) and apply my social talents (sparingly).

I'm not out of the woods physically by any means. But I am a lot calmer. Non-anonymity has its price, but it also comes with benefits.


Blogger Preston said...

Going up for healing prayer is a difficult thing. I I have had my own troubles doing this. I imagine people whispering to each other, "what's wrong with him?" And I get self-conscious, because I have just admitted that there is something wrong. I do need healing.

But I would still rather keep it as my little secret, most of the time. Until I go for healing prayer, and then I know why I need to go up - so that I know that I am not alone, there are others who care for me and want to pray with me. Above all, I am reminded that God is with me, no matter how things might suck.

And the people I imagine whispering about me tend to be phantoms of my own conjuring, anyway.

August 07, 2005 7:08 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I'm glad you trusted enough to go up for healing prayer. Just human nature, I think, that we think healing prayer is for "other people". I don't always want to let others in, either.

(and I love the butt-perch)

August 07, 2005 7:43 PM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Thanks for those insights, Preston. I will work to keep them in mind the next time "monkey mind" starts chattering on the subject.

One thing I was struck by is that L. said something like she was relieved to see that she wasn't the only one who cried in church.

August 07, 2005 7:58 PM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Charlotte: Glad you liked my blog-thought.:-)

I have only ever been to one healing service at my church, which has them every Sunday evening, and I didn't go up.

Since I bring my mother to church with me much of the time, I think it would be really difficult for me to go up for healing prayer with her present...I'd have to fend off her attempts to pry into my psyche, and her worrying aloud about the dreaded "other people" and what they might think about my presence, or her presence, up at the rail.;-)

August 08, 2005 4:05 PM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

BTW, prayers for your mom.

August 08, 2005 4:08 PM  
Blogger Simeon said...

...she was relieved to see that she wasn't the only one who cried in church.

Heck, Charlotte, I've seen my rector with tears in his eyes more than once while preaching sermons, or even reading announcements (and he's not one of those fake, "cry at just the right moment" types - he really means it :)

BTW, you'll be on the prayer list at my parish this Sunday, too...

August 10, 2005 2:00 PM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Emily - I haven't hesitated under other circumstances, but this was the first time where "people know me".

LC - my mother and I seem to have a different relationship, but at least I didn't have her presence as a factor ;). Actually if she were there I would probably talk up the healing prayer thing to get her to think about going up.

August 10, 2005 8:44 PM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Simeon, I think the point is that a lot of us have suffered silently in the pews ... it's good when we can put off the "I'm fine, FINE, yes, really" mask and stop worrying about "what others think", and double plus good when someone else reaches out in compassion.

Thanks for the prayers, they are much appreciated!

August 10, 2005 8:54 PM  
Blogger Simeon said...

it's good when we can put off the "I'm fine, FINE, yes, really" mask and stop worrying about "what others think"


As an aside, that was one of the most disturbing things about my former parish - everyone seem to have this hard, shiny, smiling Stepford Wife face on, and constantly babble "I'm fine, FINE, yes, really." Well, except when they were breaking down on cue in a melodramtic way, so that the rector could make a point... :-P

August 12, 2005 6:42 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

One of the things I love about our totally wonderful Bishop is that he said, before conducting a healing service that I was privileged to attend, that we are ALL in need of Christ's healing...This meant that everyone felt fine about going up, taking damaged marriages, or self esteems as well as spines. It made me realise how hard it might be otherwise...perhaps you could drip feed this idea to the clergy at your church?
Meanwhile, praying for you here...

August 22, 2005 5:21 AM  

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