by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
With Friends Like These...
What anguish it is to be in love with a purpose embodied in
an institution that casually dismisses you.
We met at the airport--he arriving, I leaving--but with time
enough to catch up on our divergent lives. As he was now outside
the ordained ministry of a church, I brought him up to date on
denominational affairs as he shared with me his personal peregrinations.
Expectedly, our conversation quickly reverted to the days
of his painful separation from his congregation. Time had somewhat
lessened his pain, but the deep resentment stemming from abandonment
by his supposed ministerial and denominational 'friends' could
not be shaken. In those days of agony he was not psychologically
able to reach out to other ministers, and not one made any attempt
to reach out to him. Without a church, even denominational mailings
abruptly ended. "Covenant" and "fellowship"--so
liberally sprinkled throughout the church's language--turned out
to be fair-weather rhetoric.
Two recent conversations with individuals in similar, but
non-church, situations brought this decades-old meeting to mind.
The church is not the only place where people are first wounded
by dismissal and then shot by avoidance.
What is it that allows us, in our corporate lives, to so easily
and quickly cut human ties? Fear of contamination? Awkward tongue-tiedness?
Busyness? Whatever, it devastates individuals.
My own experiences have led me to understand that--as much
as we might yearn for understanding or justification--institutions
never say, "I'm sorry" (actually Galileo did get a half-hearted
apology 362 years after his condemnation, but without such prominence,
Richard Jewel will forever be buried in FBI files). When one is
out of the picture, institutional life just moves on as if nothing
had happened. Waiting for some acknowledgment, some vindication,
nothing is forthcoming.
How truly terrible it is to be in love with a purpose embodied
in an institution that has no use for you.
--Robert H. Tucker
5 May 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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