"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Bedside Thoughts

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bedside Thoughts

I can't post about recent events in my life because they are too personal for a public audience. But I want to tell you, friends, that I have just experienced a kind of Easter at the bedside of a loved one, someone with whom I've argued many times about God and life and justice and truth, and with whom no real understanding seemed possible.

It still seems impossible. But the spectre of death, and the beauty of life returning, was like a fire burning away my ego, habits of thought, and attachment to my truth. I found myself incapable of anything but compassion.

Love is enough. Love is all.


Leaving the hospital late one night, I noticed that the moon was full. Most of us do not ask on viewing a full moon, "is this the last one I will see?" But our full moons are numbered. How can we remain conscious of death in our day-to-day existence? (Should we even try?) How would our actions change if we thought they were the last things we would do in life? What would our words be?

Perhaps that consciousness is what it means to live out the depth and breadth of life, not just the length of it.

According to Tillich, people exhibiting pathological anxieties, arising from their many fears, construct their world and carefully and forcefully defend their positions because the purpose is to prevent having to come to face their existential anxiety. Their purpose therefore is not to further the discussion but to prevent it. "Neurosis is the way of avoiding nonbeing by avoiding being."

Those who dare to live beyond fear hunger for that spiritual experience where "Man realizes that no absolute and no final security is possible; he also realizes that life demands again and again the courage to surrender some or even all security for the sake of full self-affirmation."


I was greeted warmly this week by my OALC kin at the hospital and realized after a couple of days that no one invited me to go to church, although meetings are going on every day. Neither was there any exclusionary talk about "the Christians" and "worldlies."

Were my relatives also inspired by compassion to focus on commonalities instead of differences?

Or do they consider me a lost cause?!


May your Easter be suffused with the Divine. God's peace to all.


  1. Free,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I lost my parents at about this time of year, my father many years ago and my mother just two years ago. In a way, this sort of thing happening at Easter adds some sort of additional meaning or reflection to the passage.

    I read recently -- I think it may have been in USA Today, but I'm not sure -- a writer expressing something they had heard in an Easter sermon. The words struck me as they had the writer. The pastor had said something to the effect that "we live in a Good Friday world -- but we are an Easter people". Isn't that a remarkable way of thinking about it?

    Free, you alluded to the power of love and compassion, and how they are what matters. I was just reading Pope Benedict's encyclical this morning, the focus of which is love. He started by quoting from the first Letter of John, "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." From there he built on the theme of love that exists throughout the bible, and concluded with his thoughts on the concept of who neighbors are -- those who need and help each other, and that it is through this kind of love that we cause the light of God to enter the world.

    May the light, the peace, and the love of God be with all of you during this most holy season.

  2. I want to thank you for your posting! I remember the same feeling when a loved one passed away. As I sat and watched her dying, I felt her love for all of us, wash over me. I was moved my the feeling of the Holy Spirit being there with me. At the funeral, (this person had left "the OALC") many members of the OALC would only say "That is a nice thought!"-when many of us would proclaim that this beautiful woman was in heaven. I felt as if heaven was a part of me and that the worldly concerns of being angry or hurt were only of this world-and I was not to worry about it.

    Although I have always been a Christian-it was at that moment of her death that I felt "Born Again!"

    I want to also thank you for the quote by Tillich! It will carry me for a day of discussion and debate amoung my family that has found various ways to become closer to God.

    God's Peace to you and Thank you for this site.

  3. Free,
    In re-reading your post, something you mentioned struck me that I hadn't read carefully enough before -- that of the warmth shown you by OALC folks.

    I've experienced the same thing. My mother died a couple of years ago. She had left the OALC herself some years before over some extremely hurtful things that the speaker (I refuse to dignify him by called him a preacher)had said from the altar regarding her family. However, it was a small community, and old friends don't always abandon each other over differences, even if nobody else had the courage to confront that person. At the funeral, most of that OALC community were there, and they were all supportive, talked about her with love, and showed great compassion to the rest of the family. I think that funeral helped heal some wounds, because one of the OALCers -- who I was very close to at one time and who very visibly had demonstrated his displeasure when I left the OALC -- was one of the most supportive to me. I want to believe that we buried the hatchet for all time.

    I saw it again more recently when I drove down for a friend's funeral in Battle Ground, and was greeted warmly by many, many of my old friends. They all know I don't walk the same path anymore, but that seemed to be ok. One of the preachers with whom I grew up and have always counted as a friend, did tell me that they would really like to see me more often -- implying in church-- but that was all. I am sure he said that out of his personal belief and concern and love for me, and I found that touching, as I've experienced many over the years who would not simply and gently evangelize in that way.

    I am convinced that the vast majority of the OALCers are good and loving people. Unfortunately, that community has its share of bad apples as well -- as does every group -- and if there is a fault to the OALC church, it is probably that it tends to privatize those issues. If the courage was there to confront the inappropriate behaviour, I suspect it would stop quickly. It is easy to be abusive, or cruel, or a bigot or whatever if nobody holds that behaviour up to the light and exposes it and the perpetrator.

    So in light of that last paragraph, I have to admit that I failed as a Christian on the day of the funeral. I had gotten sidetracked talking to people after the funeral and didn't know where the cemetary was, so knowing the folks would come back, I stayed and talked with a half dozen men outside the church. I don't recall the context of the conversation, but one of the men started to rant about the "niggers" in the community, saying a lot of things that I hadn't heard in many years -- to which most of the other men were laughing and nodding their heads. I wanted to interrupt and take the person to task, but I am ashamed to admit I didn't. I thought of all of the reasons why I shouldn't -- it was a funeral after all, and why start a fight in that situation -- but in reflection what I failed to do was cowardly. I guess I've still got some growing up to do...

  4. Many Trails Home4/24/2006 01:09:00 PM

    Kudos to you, cvow. This posting was most excellent: thoughtful, open, honest, insightful. I was trying to figure out if I might know who you are, but I guess not.
    I have a similar story to tell (re your last paragraph): some many years ago, my mother said that D (my brother, still an OALCer) "hates it when I say anything against the niggers." I was shocked that she would assume that I would sympathize with her opinion and not D's. But I didn't say anything either. I had lots of excuses: she and I have a rancorous relationship and NOT fighting is a lot harder than picking up any number of gauntlets. So many challenges . . . I'm still growing up too. MTH