I am not a grey-haired someone who sits back and is impressed by how well I have surmounted the very hairy challenges in my life.
Instead, I am a grey-haired somebody who walks about being very impressed by how I have managed to survive God all my life.
I have these periods when God taps me on the shoulder and whispers, Julia, got a minute? Let’s heal something in you.
As do other people, I realize.
Each and every time I go through a let’s-get-healed period I think, Ah, ha. This is it. I’ve gotten to the bottom of it all at last!
Not only do these very real spiritual strippings occur on a regular basis.
They get worse every time.
The pain is more profound. The discovery more exacting and excruciating.
And the resistance to the subject matter increases exponentially.
This time around my healing coincides with a study on curses. How, in our lives, if we are not literally blessed by those around us at certain portal moments – times of growth and importance – we are cursed.
But I had opened the door of this healing before my study on curses. Back in Lent. And the forgiveness work that seems to always accompany me on that 40-day walk.
And now they come together: sorry attempts at forgiveness and recognizing the curse that came along with the horror and pain.
I am at the place of my conception.
I was conceived in a bathtub.
I know this because being raised on the coast of Maine, family would flow through our house during the summer months like a scourge of mosquitoes. And as they would inevitably gather in the Great Room, drinks in hand, their jocularity bursting forth, their galing laughter would settle inevitably on my conception.
If anything, my sourcing was the source of amusement for my family.
So I thought that I knew everything there was to know about the unyielding, spouted cauldron where I first met Earth. And what happened on that day.
But I was so wrong.
A few months ago I took a walk there. It was a different kind of vision for me. I was not looking at what was ahead of me. Instead I was looking at me walking there. And on either side of me was Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.
And I thought, This is really nice of them.
I was so wrong.
As I came closer I not only saw but I felt.
The fury in my father.
The blankness of my mother.
They were in the bathtub because they were splitting up.
My father, who could “know” things, knew that the son my mother had just born was not his.
And he could not take the betrayal.
I never knew growing up that my father was, in essence, a broken-hearted man, who had just wanted to be part of a sweet family, but now found himself being made a fool of.
I wonder now if because he was such a capable man, this all happened when he was working in a deep sub-basement at the Pentagon working on things like the first decoding computer, if the betrayal with an ordinary soldier was especially wrenching for him.
My mother’s only concern seemed to be a bit of frustration at the thought that she would have to take her two sons and join her mother in Maine. No more freedom to do what she liked to do.
Standing there watching the exchange I could feel my father’s rage. Physically. Psychically. Soulfully.
I gasped and wanted to apologize for causing such trouble in my family.
But I wasn’t even there yet.
So I turned away.
And as I did this, Jesus took one of my arms in his hands and John took the other. And they held me so tightly that I couldn’t wrench away from them and turn around. I was forced to stay and watch.
They held me so tightly that when the vision was over my arms hurt.
I have been back there since. Once with only Jesus as I sat above the scene and cried.
Once to try and understand God’s design in all this.
This is bottom-line reason for the study after all, isn’t it?
And I started to hear God explaining it all to me.
But while this was the focus of my contemplative prayers I began reading about curses.
And I saw how my father had cursed me then, on that day of my conception.
While considering the design of a curse, my mind went to the idea that a blessing is the antidote of a curse.
But I was so wrong.
A blessing is a gift from God. Or God through others. It is a grace.
So, what then? What does one do with curses?
We look for its glory.
Something for which we can give God worshipful praise.
Thank you, Father.
But I have found that looking for glory in my curse is akin to hunting for a pearl in a tar pit.
It is miserable work.
Once I had that construct in me, though, I could go back to that day with an intention.
Where is my glory in this, Father?
And I felt it.
That fire of rage that was my father.
So intense I felt it throughout my whole body.
It settled in my soul.
I was conceived with the gift of fire in my soul.
And for this I can pray,
Thank you, Father.