Is this bunny white, or is it fuzzy?
This is the question Pastor Jeff posed during the children’s sermon last Sunday, as our congregation gathered to worship while grappling with the reality that our other Pastor, Stephanie, was lying in intensive care in a hospital across town.
The answer, of course, is both. The bunny is both white and fuzzy.
He went on to explain how people can be both happy and sad. We can be both happy to be together in worship and sad and worried about Stephanie’s precarious state.
Being that I lack a Master of Divinity, and pretty much any of the other necessary qualifications to be a pastor (tact, patience, respectful demeanor, etc.), I cannot express it as beautifully as he did. But it was an incredible message in a time of great sadness and uncertainty.
Today, I’m still sad, and I’m still uncertain; but Stephanie’s outcome is not. She died on Thursday night. I can say definitively that she left one congregation who loved her tremendously, and while I don’t know any of her former congregants, I feel pretty confident in saying they loved her tremendously as well. And I know for a fact she was adored by her husband and babies.
Since her passing, I have been in a state of both/and. A state of near constant contradictions.
I am both certain that our church will endure this, and wondering how we possibly will. And pissed off that this scenario even exists.
I both believe our community is so much more than any one person or pastor, and yet feel we are so broken and incomplete without her.
I am both so very grateful to have an incredible beloved community to bear this pain with, and so very pissed off that we have to traverse this awful path. Because it is awful. And yes, there’s a lot of pissed off in this post. Hello, stages of grief.
I am both happy to have stumbled into such an amazing faith community 12-ish years ago (after being fairly certain I had written off faith completely), and wishing I hadn’t. Because if I’d have stayed away from faith, I’d have stayed away from this gut-wrenching pain.
I am both grateful to be part of a faith community who is ok with me expressing anger and despair, and wishing I could quit being sad and pissed off and just find some damn peace.
I am both trying to endure this with grace and altruism, and feeling very personally cheated that she won’t be there to confirm Elise or go on a pilgrimage with either of my kids.
I am both grateful for the prayer services that have been available to us, and prayer’d out. What’s the damn point?
I both love the Taize songs we’ve sung, and yet never want to hear “Oh Lord Hear My Prayer” or “Take Oh Take Me as I am” again. Ever.
I am both happy that the traveling peddler has been in Asia for the past eight days, giving me space to work through this; and utterly pissed off that he’s not here.
I am both selfishly grieving and yet I would take on this grief a hundred times over if it meant Stephanie were home enjoying a normal Sunday evening with her husband and three preschool aged children.
I am both certain the rules of blogging dictate that I should not post anything when I’m wrought with grief and exhaustion and under the influence of two glasses of wine, and have exactly zero effs to give.