Archive for July, 2012

July 29, 2012

Reset the Narrative?

Earlier this year, the church in which I grew up lost its historic property in a bitter legal battle. I decided to focus a portion of my thoughts and writing toward the significance of that place on my life. I’ve also reached out to friends from that period of my life and asked them to share their own thoughts; these will follow shortly.

I am waiting to press the reset button. I have been waiting for almost eight years. There has always been the expectation that one day everything would be restored. I would press the button, return to my homeland, and everything would be the way it was. January 11th, I realized that it was a dummy button; were I to press it—that is all the result I would get. My finger would push a spring loaded device into a depression and when I withdrew the force of my hand, the spring would return the device to its original location; there is nothing on the other side of the button. No result. The last eight years would still be there, a yawning chasm between me and where I’ve always wanted to be.

Truro Church. One of three historic churches in Northern Virginia. It predates the Episcopal Diocese. I spent more of my waking hours there than I did at home. That is where I envisioned getting married; where I envisioned having my ashes scattered. Why do I put so much emphasis on a large brick building in a D.C. suburb? Is it where God lives? No, but it is my Wailing Wall. It is something I can’t get back. But I felt at home there. I was integrated; I had relationships; I had purpose.

Then the Episcopal Church splintered and the congregation was a shard— a shard that further splintered as families left one Sunday afternoon only to not return the next. Then I moved 649 miles away. Then a court decided that the Diocese owned the building.

This is like the death of heroes. My hero died three times. His name was Kirby Puckett. He led the Minnesota Twins to two World Series victories before I can remember. But as long as I can remember, I have idolized him. In 1995 his career was ended by glaucoma. That was the first death. He could no longer play baseball. That I all I had ever wanted to do. And now my inspiration for doing so could do that no longer. The second time he died was when he divorced his wife among allegations of abuse, assault, and adultery. He was no longer the charismatic family man who loved children and told them that just because he couldn’t see, it didn’t mean Jesus didn’t answer prayers. I was at Truro when I found out. The third time he died, he was dead. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t going to abuse anymore women or eat anymore lard or play anymore baseball or let anyone down.

Truro lost its beautiful brick property, of which I knew every niche, to the Episcopal Diocese from which it had separated itself. Via the mysteries of grace, the congregation will not be forced to move for another year yet, but the spiritual body of the church is now legally separated from its physical shelter. People argue that we’ve placed too much emphasis on a building and The Church is not about a building, but it is an icon, a physical—blood, water, and brick—narrative of Christ’s church in Fairfax. It wasn’t just a building when a teenager on a bike would be the first to arrive and the last to leave every Sunday and would choose to spend most of his week there too; it was an opportunity to be a participant and student of Christian polyphony.

I’ve passed up opportunities over the past six years to press that reset button and I never had the chutzpa to test its spring; I’m not sure whether my hand was stayed by a subconscious knowledge of its false nature or just cowardice but due to that denial, my narrative has progressed. Truro was a vital section of my narrative and its significance has propelled the story forward, but to attempt to relive it would be to repeat a completed section of the story, like doubling up signatures in a book.

I’ve accepted that there is nothing behind the reset button but a spring. I can still go back every summer and pretend I’m still sixteen years old throwing out my shoulder by hurling tennis balls against a brick edifice for hours on end. I can still watch footage of the 1991 World Series. And I can still pray to God wherever I am. But I need a new Truro, just like I need a new hero, for the twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-whatever me. For the Chicago me. The me that is still searching for integration, relationships, and purpose.