I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning and saw several people talking about Marcus Borg. He passed away last night.
About ten years ago, I was stuck in a religious wasteland. I wasn’t really an atheist and I wasn’t really a Christian. Mostly, I was just incredibly sad. I was still in mourning for my had-been and could-have-been life. I wanted to be a Christian, but I couldn’t force myself into that small box. Part of my hostility toward Christians over the years boils down to jealousy. They had it. I wanted it. But, I wasn’t allowed in.
One day, I was browsing through religious books with my sister at Borders (knowing me, I was probably making some snotty remarks about it.) As I was going along, I saw The Heart of Christianity and picked it up. I read the back and flipped through the book a little. I bought it and read through it when I got home.
I didn’t agree with everything I read. I wasn’t even sure if some of Marcus Borg’s ideas could qualify as Christian. But, it was the first time I really understood that fundamentalism is just one way of “doing” Christianity. It was the first time the Way was open for me again.
It’d be a nice story if I had fallen on my knees and called out to God right then and there, but that didn’t happen. I quietly closed the book and put it away.
But, I’d taken a step.
Just one wobbly, awkward step. But, it was a step.
Five years ago, my oldest daughter had open heart surgery. I can’t even begin to explain how stressful that time was. It was my daughter’s defective heart valve that lead us to an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome diagnosis. I was working full-time, taking classes full-time, trying to research a rare condition, and preparing for my daughter’s surgery. I was not in a good place.
A few days before her surgery, I got a phone call from my parents. They’d asked their church to pray for my daughter. But, the church took it a step further than that. One of the members organized a toy collection for her so she’d have new things to play with while she was in the hospital. Nobody at that church knew me or my daughter, but they reached out and offered support through coloring books and activity kits.
So, I took another small step.
Getting to know some authentic people at an ELCA congregation was another step.
Getting to know some Christian feminists was another step.
Sharing my story and actually being heard and told “that was wrong” for the first time by Christians outside my family was another step.
I still have steps to take. I know that.
But, at least I’m on the (hopefully, narrow) road.
When I found myself back at the start of this road, it seemed impassable. There were freakin’ rivers to cross, man! But, as I approached the rivers, I found stepping stones waiting for me and I made my way across.
Thank you, Marcus Borg, for being an early stepping stone for me.
Thank you to all of my stepping stones… even the stepping stones I’ve disagreed with sometimes. You still got me across.
I always felt like I was walking this road alone, but maybe I wasn’t after all.