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So What Do I Miss...?

….when I say I miss Jim Loder?

If I were honest, I probably miss the world(s) of certainty he seemed to draw close to himself. His transformative faith journey had such gravitas, mystery, overt spiritual import that just being in his presence gave a palpable protection against doubt. Doubt for him was simply new understanding yet to arrive, in scanning interludes unto insight(s). Requires only patience and persistence within it, trusting Spirit’s purpose no matter what. This HAS been a gift I have received ever since, because at some level deep within, I know the Presence is always close, even within. And yet I have also come to know doubt’s raw edges within a fearful isolation, feeling much more “on my own” without his imputed certainty(ies). I miss him.

There is also a deeply embedded habit of mind within me, granting authority and trust—whether earned or not—to older father-figure men. My path has been blessed for decades by father-figures who have been/are deeply trustworthy. Jim Loder was trustworthy, even amidst his own frailties, flaws. I miss the feelings of protection and an advocate whose voice held such sway in the world. I miss him.

Of course, I therefore learned how to wield power indirectly, granting this other-centered power priority while trickstering my own authority, in-between. All of which works for holy purpose…until it doesn’t. The tendency to give away my own power, unconsciously, has required relearning, guessing at different responses, actions. They don’t feel natural, hence guessing. But prioritizing my own experience, my own intuition, regardless of whether I have objective proof or an argument that can convince anyone? Hard work. My soul-partner calls this willfulness or stubbornness, usually with an air of frustration, as he has to/gets to live with it most. It probably is both of those things. But this is required learning for any woman living in communities (un)consciously hostile to the feminine, be they church, civil society, family, even marriage. I miss the ease I knew amidst Loder’s worlds, my own ignorance of all of this.

Can one truly miss being ignorant? Damn straight.

Some days more than others, I miss the expressed-easy, low-affect, white Protestant congregational way of being a Christian. Sit there in the pew. Listen to the pastor and the music. Go home. Pray. Repeat next week. Sometimes I am simply weary of being unable to un-see what I have seen, unknow what I now know.

  • Which is that spiritual maturity is painful as well as enlivening.

  • Transformation in the Spirit requires surrender into risk, doubt, fear and pain; church today requires surrender too, but most often to its institutional visibilities—its norms, practices, public truths.

  • I sit in church today, mostly envious in my desire to return to the certainties, indirect responsibilities/power, and overtly visible norms surrounded by others doing the same…

I'm not proud of this, of course, as hard-earned freedom has come from what I've learned. But it's still true. When I feel impotent living into Spirit’s callings on my life, when I feel isolated and so very alone amidst Christians whose faith expression no longer resembles what I value?

I miss Jim Loder.

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