At the end of a long, terrible day, I walked in, found a random spot and lay on the floor in the sanctuary of a friend’s church. I wanted to cry. I shut my eyes. I ignored the sounds around me. I dropped all the things I was supposed to be doing. I found a way to not worry about if I was making things awkward for the others who were gathering and to not think about whether or not my shirt had lifted up to expose any (gulp) side skin while I laid there, in your house, in a sacred space, and tried to allow myself to get flat, to lay, to be there and just be. To be just as I was and how I felt and who I am. And to be. Just be.
Someone offered me tea. Right there on the floor. Someone else climbed over my feet to get where they needed to be. I lost my focus and cheated and took a peak around. Let’s be real, I checked my shirt. Then I went back to my moment, my focus, my careful and prayerful posture ( and all of that super spiritual stuff I was trying to concentrate on FOR THE LOVE OF YOU, dammit…) and closed my eyes again. I stretched out my arms and worked to breathe you in. I wanted to sink into You. I stayed there for a bit. I felt the muscles in my back release, just a bit, from all they’d been holding together. I listened to my breath. I was in fact still breathing. That was a good start, I noted. I was almost close to being okay. I looked up. And I saw it.
A giant crack in the wall.
In our part of town, our churches are old. Made of grand stones and real plaster walls. And all of our walls have cracks, splits and tears. Most have water damage and crumbly spots. This random spot where I’d plopped myself down to lay and pray and be with you, was directly beneath the biggest crack in the building. That rip through the sanctuary, that blemish, that brokenness, was right before me and pointing at me, and well, then when I thought about it, it was through and though me, too. And still this place was standing. This sanctuary, this church, this blessed building, holding Your people, keeping them safe and warm and full of praise and wisdom, even with that giant crack in her wall.
And right then, my own brokenness, splits, cracks, rips and tears didn’t seem so horrible. You made broken me out of strong old stuff and put me in this part of town and I wasn’t going to fall apart or drop the ceiling just because I had a big, stinkin’ fissure down my side.
I got up from my moment. I drank the tea. I joined in worship. And I went on my way, all cracked-up and messed up. And also, okay. And kinda wonderful, actually, in my own cracked-up way.
So thank You. Thank you God, for people and churches with big ole scars, wounds, and rips. Thank you for making us strong and building us to keep on, despite our tears. Thank you for holding us together in those cracked places. Help us find safe spaces to lay and catch our breath when we’re especially worn. And help us to get back up, to walk and work on, wearing our damage, but refusing to let it keep us from praising and gathering and celebrating and growing in You.
Rev. Erin Counihan, when not laying on the floor in random city churches, serves as pastor of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in St. Louis, MO and blogs a little at https://somewhatreverend.wordpress.com/.
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