Sundays have always been a special day for me, even growing up. Now much, much later and still growing up, Sunday is the day I look forward to.
As a child it was church and family. The most vivid of my childhood memories took place on a Sunday. An only child, my mother had a brother and sister with five children between them, all of us living within a few miles of each other. I like to joke that we were raised commune style, the six of us cousins are more like brothers and sisters.
Regardless, on Sundays you could almost always find us all together at one house or another. We attended the same church then retired to our separate homes for lunch and by late afternoon we all ended up under one roof. The parents did whatever parents do while the six of us; three girls and three boys terrorized Mother Nature.
By dark, it was popcorn and all of us kids gathered together in front of the tube to watch “The Wonderful World of Disney”. Then we’d find some other innocent trouble to get into before being ripped to our separate homes for bed.
Even as we grew older, Sundays were still a time for worship services and visiting, either company at your house or going to visit someone else. Before I moved back to Tennessee, Sundays was still at time that a cousin or two, all but one and now myself, still in Cecil County, got together for snackin’ and chattin’.
I miss that. I miss the days when on Sunday you found your way together with someone you loved or a trip somewhere with family of heart or of blood that would bond a memory to your soul. I keep waiting for company. I should just stop making excuses, get off my duff and go visit someone.
Sundays have become so ritual these days. I got up this morning, walked Jackson then showered and went to church. At lunch, walked the dog and then watched what Hulu, which isn't always kind to my old computer, would let me.
I miss my church in Maryland. I had only been a member for a little over a year before I made the decisions that brought me here. I had been a member at the church I grew up in, but found another that ironically seemed more like family. I’ve never attended a church that had people walk up to you and when they said “How you doing?” honestly meant it.
I was just started to get really involved in it when I moved. My cousin Diane was a member there, and I served on the hospitality committee with her. This meant that I helped plan and “do” social events planned through out the year. I helped with the cooking and clean up. It was fun. Of course, I always loved being around Diane.
They had a great little Praise & Worship team that I got asked to be a part of. Any excuse to sing and I’m there. I loved it. Music is kind of the way I worship, although I’m sure some would prefer that I worshiped a little more quietly and little more on key.
I am now attending the church my parents go to. For a small country church it has enough attendance for two services. I enjoy sitting between my parents again, but to be honest, I am extremely uncomfortable there.
I do like the pastor, Lonnie. He’s intelligent and educated speaking with compassion and heart. He’s a good man. When it comes to pastors he’s got big shoes to fill when it comes to me. I worshiped under the guidance of two wonderful and powerful young men, Russ Reaves and Timothy J. Kraynak, but Lonnie does a fine job. He’s probably the closest thing I’ll find in East Tennessee to the sort of “Preaching” that speaks to my heart.
Now the music at the church is another thing. They do have a nice little Praise & Worship team; the members vary from week to week I assume depending on who’s available to rehearse. Almost always there is a woman by the name of Louise Johnson whose voice and demeanor remind me a lot of Southern Gospel legend Vestel Goodman.They do a fine job with more contemporary songs.
Then there is the choir itself. Let’s just say they are a “Shut up and Sang It” kind of group. There is nothing wrong with that. They do pretty much exclusively Old Time Gospel music, which I adore. I was even part of a Southern Gospel Quartet for years.
However the choir at this church doesn’t pay a lot of attention to rhythm, pitch, or harmony. There is nothing wrong with that, and the churchgoers seem to enjoy it. I say good for them. If someone is getting enjoyment or joy out of it, who I am I to stand up and say, “Excuse me, but could everyone at least sing the same words?”
I have to admit that today during the sermon that I realized something. I think the reason why I am here, and at that church particularly is that I have unresolved anger issues that I need to deal with. I thought that I had forgiven and moved on, but I think maybe I just shoved the anger in a box, labeled it forgiven, shoved it the back closet of my brain and moved on.
I’ve not been able to get Thom Bierdz book “Forgiving Troy” out of my head today. If you haven’t read this book, go grab a copy now and get ready for a moving rhapsody of success, horror and forgiveness. This is a stunning look at the other side of success, the struggle with self worth and mental illness and the imperfect perfection of letting go of pain to find the true meaning of "You" through forgiving the unforgivable.
Thom Bierdz and I exchanged emails for a few months about ten years ago, as he was just completing this book. At least I think it was Bierdz and I. For all I know it was a secretary or a stalker or something, regardless it was via his personal website. We are close to the same age, and I was just beginning to notice some cracks in my mental veneer.
At that time I was not aware of the tragedies that had disrupted him. I knew we were about the same age, I a few years older, and remembered him from “The Young and the Restless”. I saw an interview with him on “ET” or something and wanted to look at his artwork. I found his website and ended up sending an email and a brief exchange started.
Then I went to Africa for the first time, came home and had a car wreck and never got back into the email exchange. I did however purchase the book, by this time knowing the story of his courage courage, torment and struggle to forgive his brother. The power of it did more that resonate, it changed me.
I don’t think I understood why his story keeps popping back into the recesses of my head until maybe today. There is so little here in East Tennessee that gives me peace or happiness, because I have not really forgiven. Granted nothing happened as shocking or horrific as what Mr. Bierdz had to endure, but things happened that destroyed my trust, my faith and worst of all my hope.
They say that acknowledging the problem is half the battle. I fear that it is only the beginning, but I am ready to try. Some of the pain is so ingrained, like my bike scars from childhood; they will be difficult to remove. It’s not that it must be done; it is simply something that should be done.
I want to not feel looked down upon by the entire population of East Tennessee. I want the freedom to be myself in public without fear. I need to forgive the ostracism, the assumptions and in some cases the hateful lies that cause me to cower with a weak smile on my face until I can make it to my car and sob out loud in my car.
Until I am able to do this I will never be past this numbing depression. I will succeed. I will forgive…and be forgiven. I will be at peace. I will.