I posted this earlier today on my Facebook page:
Hi, friends. Today is the first day of my sabbatical. I am tying up loose ends and packing for my flight to London this evening. I am going to jump into Europe in full soul mode, holding nothing back from myself that might interfere with my ability to be in the right faithful place as a minister, as is my usual discipline. This means that I can go down, down, down into the places that are too intense, bloody, disturbing to share from the pulpit but that my psyche and my God beckon me to explore. I have always been an Underworld Girl – that’s why I did my master’s thesis on Persephone. I love my resurrected Jesus but I don’t live in the resurrection so much as I live in the laughing underbelly of irreverence, dirt and honesty. I need to be able to express both utter contempt and worshipful devotion and I intend to seek out beauty all the way. Most of all, I have to shake American flat-earth self-improvement, achievement and happiness off of me like the cheap garments they are. I’m going forth in some kind of pelt loaned to me by a creature that lived fully alive and often frightened, that ran wild and mated and ate and killed and then was killed by another animal, or the weather, or some other great force that it knew in its bones and respected.
So there it is. I almost feel like exploding, I need so much to be able to shriek with my hair on fire, Medusa Christ an old boyfriend once called me, and I can see it.
I want to talk about evil, disgust, the degradation of bodies that we can hardly tolerate imagining when they’re evoked by the headlines. The raping, marauding men at the top levels of power, the corrupt killers with badges, the monsters with guns who murder their wives and schoolmates, the vile boys who drive cars into protesters, the beasts who mock the dead — who wants to enter fully into their reality? I do not. I do, however, feel called to speak to the utter failure of our soft contemporary Protestantism, Humanism and New Age spiritualities to speak to the filthy perversions of human nature.
I’m leaving America for a bit. Going to Europe, where the reality of war and genocide and battles and displacement and blood feuds and cultural theft and slavery and racial hatred is integrated with the general understanding of history. Going places where depravity, immorality and corruption is recognized as part of the story of the city, the town, the opera house, the art work. Free from the tyranny of American denial, American smiley faces, American avoidance, American “I don’t see color” and “that was a long time ago” and “have you tried essential oils” and “happiness is a CHOICE.”
I removed my stole at the end of the church service on Sunday, folded it carefully and placed it on the altar table.
I am so grateful to be relieved of the burden and the honor of having to have something to say to the congregation for six months. What I have to say in the meantime is for me, because I have to get it out, and perhaps for you, if it speaks also to your soul.