For the past three months we have been gathering on Wednesday nights at the High Street House to share a bowl of soup and to share our stories. We have received these times as sheer gift, as we continue to get to know the people we are choosing to do life with here in Lexington. There has been lots of laughter, many beautiful and/or goofy photos, some tears, a few revelations of the "I can't believe I didn't know that about you" kind from those who have been family together for years, along with much courage as people have shared painful and difficult chapters of their story, some the writing of which has yet to be completed. After hearing from two people each week, we sit them on the missionary chest that serves as an altar for our community, and then spend some tender time in prayer for them, with gratitude and blessing for their story as it gets caught up in the unfolding Story of God.
Last night we heard two more beautiful stories, both of which offered the precious gift of vulnerability. I found myself thinking about them as I lay my head on the pillow last night and again as I rose to run this morning. Both of these stories are being shaped by relinquishing, by letting go of something.
A young woman shared the damage that the perfectionism she had internalized had wrought in her life and of the freedom she had found in making the decision to walk away from formal education as a bright and motivated student who was paralyzed by the fear of failure. Relinquishing expectations and opportunity has begun to heal the harm perfectionism has caused her. She concluded with eloquent tearfulness, as she described something else that has caused her pain over the years of which she is being invited to let go: her perception and experience of a profoundly masculine God. This belief has led her - as a young girl and as a woman - to question what it means for her to be made in the image of God: something which God intends to lead to wholeness and identity security, but which for her has led to feelings of somehow being "less than" simply because of her gender. As she opens herself to experiencing the femininity of God, she is continuing her journey towards wholeness and shalom.
The second story we received has also been deeply shaped by relinquishing and was told by a young man who is a relative newcomer to Communality. His two decade search for a life and community that embodies his evolving understanding and experience of the God of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures has led him into voluntary homelessness in Lexington. He shared his experience of being invited by God to be homeless for a season, to relinquish the security of home and the stuff to which he finds himself deeply attached. I found the gentle and authentic spirit with which he told his story compelling and it has continued to cause me to reflect on my own need for security and control, and the comfort I find sitting in the midst of my books, something which he has specifically chosen to relinquish.
The gift of story is profound and one for which I am deeply grateful as I seek to live more faithfully into the Story of God.
(I found the image for this post online, but was unable to identify the artist for which I apologize.)