|In Psalm 139, the psalmist proclaims that we “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” The more I walk this journey of life and faith, the more I believe it comes down to which one is taking the lead, is driving the bus, fear or wonder. No doubt, fear gives us very important information. It lets us know when things are not okay, when safety is being threatened, when we need additional support. However, when fear is in charge, when it feels most familiar, when it becomes automatic, it gives us a very limited range of options, often captured in the well known shorthand of “fight, flight or freeze”. |
As Psalm 139 names, fear is and needs to be a part of being fully human. The problem arises when our fear becomes so powerful, so dominant, that there is no room for wonder. There is no room for mutual trust and connection, for creativity, for collaboration, for beauty, for joy, for thriving and not just surviving. We are made to honor our fear, but not be captive to it, because we are also made for wonder.
Unaddressed trauma gives rise to fear in many forms. In the last few decades, we have discovered remarkable truths about trauma and its destructive impact on the mind, body and spirit. In addition to the faithful work of reversing the concentration of wealth and resources that fuel so much of this suffering, I believe we are simultaneously called to build the collective and personal capacity for wholeness and healing in the face of it. If we understand trauma, we also understand that those caught in its grip must experience a level of trust with someone before risking the frightening and courageous work of tending to such wounds. I want to become such a companion within our community.
For three years, you all have given me the honor of being a Pastor in your midst. It has been a gift full of wonder, and let’s be honest, a little fear too. It is because of the powerful way we have embraced each other that I will be shifting my role at Haywood St. over the coming year. I also have a counseling degree and am already pursuing the path to become licensed. While still being committed to Haywood St., including being present on Wednesdays and Sundays, the rest of my week will be devoted to sharing these trauma informed resources with our community. I will be adding a pastoral counseling ministry to the other amazing ministries already in place. This feels like a holy nudge that I can ignore no longer, though I already feel some sadness about letting go of certain ways I love being with you all. Such is the nature of change and of faith.
We are posting for the Associate Pastor position today. Please help us spread the word. The hope is that we find somebody who can begin early in the year. I will linger until the end of April to support that transition. The goal is to have the counseling ministry up and running next November.
“What about May to October?”, you might ask. Well, my younger daughter, who is about to finish High School, wants to take her Dad on a long walk, also called the Appalachian Trail. I just can’t pass that up. Sounds too wonderful, full of wonder, to me.
A Letter From Pastor Mark Siler