Sermons

Monday, October 28, 2013

Self-scrutiny

Door between the narthex and nave at St Paul's Episcopal Church
Newport News, VA
I recently spent three days at a family systems workshop, the second one this year. Many clergy and other leaders take a family systems approach to parish leadership. (Read more about that here.) We look at things like emotional triangles, generational transmission, emotional process. It's really very interesting pastoral and professional work and/but it is really intense personal work as well.

As is my initial response to most things that are not my idea, I was resistant to much of this process at the beginning. I liked reading about it in books (various books by Edwin Friedman are on the bedside table or desk of many a clergy person) but liked it less when I was my own guinea pig. Sometimes I'd rather just let things from the past just lie there rather than stirring them up (my small group leader suggested I contact a family member to talk and I thought, "why would I want to do that?"), but then I can't help but remember William Faulkner's famous quote: The past is not dead; it's not even past.

Things don't just lie there forever.

Of course, when one embarks on this kind of self-scrutiny, things start popping up out of nowhere. Unbidden? Or just unleashed? Old memories long forgotten collide with new revelations. People from your high school friend you on Facebook. People from your home town turn out to be at the conference. Your mom calls. Lou Reed (or somebody from the soundtrack of a particular relationship or life event) dies. You see an obituary and the flood gates open.

Do these things just happen or is it that you are just now noticing them?




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