Notes From Rev. Laurie - 9/23/16

At night some times when I can’t sleep I think about the sycamore tree in my childhood back yard. With my eyes closed I remember exactly how to climb it to get to the door my father wedged into its branches. Though I was unaware of it at the time, that door was my first church and the tree is where I learned to talk to God. Now abandoned, the property the tree is on isn’t exactly public space, but there aren’t any “No Trespassing” signs either. So last spring I took a detour on my way to my brother’s house in South Jersey to visit this old friend. At first, standing at the base of the tree was disorienting. All of its bottom branches have disappeared except for a few tell tale lumps. Over decades, the tree grew and covered the stumps where the lower limbs were sawed off. The door is long gone too, but there is a little, rectangular scar with a nail in it where the door was. Just like this tree is forever imprinted on me, I’m imprinted on it too. Finding and touching that scar gave me deep peace. A few weeks ago I was admiring a couple of friend’s tattoos and we got into a conversation about how they chose them. My friends asked if I ever thought of getting one. I said not really and later realized that’s because my scars are tattoos. There’s the long, jagged one on my pinkie I got while swimming in a lake on Friday the 13th, the smaller ones on both knees from running home and falling off bikes and a straight, two inch long scar from the c-section deliveries of both of my children. The older I get the more I like these scars. They tell my story. How do you find peace? You can get a pedicure, go to a kickboxing class or out for dinner with friends. All of these things make me feel better, but I never get actual peace from them. Peace is deeper: under the epidermis, in the connective tissue. The only way to I know to get to peace is through Jesus, and the only way I’ve found to get to him is with all of my brokenness hanging out. Part of prayer is laying bare the way life has disfigured us. On Sunday I’m always relieved when we say the confession and admit we’ve tried but failed to save ourselves and others because when we do, Jesus shows up with his wounds too. He knows where we’ve all been. We’re imprinted in his hands, feet and side. Through broken bread and a shared cup Love sinks into where we are not whole. Mysteriously, it’s in the stories of our scars God marks us as his own. Sr. Gertrude Morgan sings a song that reaches that hidden place where God turns pain into peace. You can listen to it here or maybe just say the words of the song like a prayer. It goes like this: I am healed by the wound in his side, I am healed by the wound in his side, I am healed by the wound in my Savior’s side I am healed by the wound in his side. Amen. Your sister, Rev. Laurie

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Grace Church Van Vorst  | 39 Erie Street  |  Jersey City, NJ 07302  |  Phone: 201-659-2211  |