Perhaps the rooms are nondescript.  Perhaps you don’t notice them because of the emotional intensity of the experience itself.

He  leads you into it.  He holds your hand.  You feel scratches from his palm on your own palm.  Skin that should be soft on his hand is scratchy.  It is scarred.

You sit down in an unremarkable chair.  And he stands with you for a time.  A time out of time, a timeless time.  You know that he is feeling such a powerful empathy for you.  It is almost a sadness.  And this is worrying. 

There is a door on the far side of the room.  This is not the door which you entered the room through.  It is the door he leaves the room through, though. 

And you wait for a timeless time.

You wait for long enough that you begin to wonder.  Have you been forgotten?  When He was here, you knew, with out a doubt, that you were so important to this all.  But now…

You think, absurdly, of those time in the doctors offices.  After you’d been lead out of the waiting room.  After you’d been lead to those little rooms.  But before the doctor makes it in.  Sometimes, the time would just stretch out and fold back on itself, and you would wonder if you had been forgotten.

It is a relief then when you sense someone in the next room.  He has returned.  You know that he is not alone.  It is not so much that they are making noises.  Perhaps it is that the air is moving around, something subliminal, inexplicable.

He enters back into the room through a door.  He enters first.  Later you think that perhaps he did this to reassure you.  He is still looking at you with such loving kindness.

Because the person who follows is the opposite.   The opposite of him.

Was there anyone in your childhood who hurt you?  Perhaps you were an adult.  Who hurt you the most… In the whole of your life; in the hole of your life, who hurt you the most?

That is the person who follows Jesus into that room.

Perhaps the person did something that would seem silly from the outside.  Perhaps the person did something that you can’t explain.  Perhaps the person should be in jail. 

It has probably been so many years since you have seen them.  And yet, still.  The body has it’s response.  A feeling in the stomach.  A clenching of the jaw.  And the anger, and the sadness, and the Great Question “Why?”

The question to them and the question to Him.  “Why?”

There are no answers to that question in this room.  Does He tell you that?  Or do you only think it?  I think that He says that the question will be answered.  But not in this room.  Not now.

And there is you.  And there is them.  And there is this silence.  And there is Him.

What will you do.

He asks that.  You are sure of it.  I am sure of it.  He asks, “What will you do.”

You think first that there should be an explanation.  The one who hurt you should have something to say for themself.    Perhaps it was his own childhood.  Perhaps there was something else going on, some greater good.  At least, you might hope for an apology.

But it is not the time for that.

There is only the question “What will you do?”

And you want to know what the question means.  I want to know what that question means.

Does your decision– does my decision– render some sort of verdict?  Will we, the one who suffered so, determine this final fate?

But it does not matter.  What does matter is the answer to the question “What will you do?”

And so that question is asked, out loud again.

And it becomes clear that the question is not as open ended as it seems.  It is really a multiple choice question.  There are actually only a) and b)

“What will you do?”  Really means “Will you forgive?”

With out explanation?  Without apology?  Will you forgive?

With something like anger you wonder: is this it?  Are these the rooms he went before us to prepare for us?

I know that the only way I will forgive is if He helps me to forgive.  I think that’s true of you, too.  This forgiveness is such a ludicrious thing, such an over the top thing.  How could we possibly do it on our own?

But if He helps us we will.  And if we do He will take us through that door on the other side of the room, the one he lead the other person through.

I don’t know what happens to the person who hurt us when we were a child.  I do not know if our forgivenenss frees them.  I don’t know if our failure to forgive leads to something else, somewhere else. 

If you make the decision to forgive, the person will simply fade from view.

But I know that someone else will be sitting in that next room, now, by the time that we enter it.

Will it be someone we recognize?  Will it be someone we remember? 

It will be someone we hurt once.

Perhaps not the same.  Perhaps because of the one who hurt us.  Perhaps we had our reasons.  Perhaps we don’t understand them.

The person who sits in the nondescript seat was growing impatient.  And their is such a terrible recognition in the look that crosses their face.  And you will know that it is not the time for explanations.  The jaw clenches.  The hands ball into fists.  The eyes fill up and they look away from you.

You will stand before the one you hurt.

And you will wonder what he will do.

And when he makes his decision, there is third room that you will find yourself in.  You will fade from that person’s view and fade yourself in that third room.

You will not know how you got into that third room.

But you are alone and their are no doors. 

There is just this mirror.

How could there be a room with no doors?

There are no windows, just this mirror.

But it is not a mirror at all.  You thought there was.  But the thing that you assumed to be your reflection does not move when you move.  A perfect reproduction of yourself occupies the other half of the doorless/windowless room.  The other-you seems just as lost, lonely, and confused as you know you are.

And you are standing before yourself.

And the question is this:

What will you do?

You have hurt yourself.  You have not become who you were meant to be.  You will see the fullness of what you should have been.  You will see what in fact you have chosen to become.

You have caused yourself such pain.

You have caused others pain.  You have let them down.  You have reached deeply inside of them and you hurt them.

What will you do?

Will you forgive?

And if you do you will find Him again.

And you will stand before him and he will be nailed to a cross.

And you put the nails in.

I put the nails in.

What will he do?

When it is finished you walk through a doorway that you did not notice.  It is beneath the cross, off-center.  It does not lead to another room.  It leads to the outside.  Golden sunlight filters in.  A soft breeze.

This is the beginning of the beginning, you realize as you walk through it.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “Rooms”

  1. Well written, Jeff. I really enjoyed what you had to say. I recently read a book “Total Forgiveness” by R.T Kendall. He has some great things to say although to make that next step to actually forgive is difficult. He says total forgiveness is a lifelong commitment. That is a hard statement to swallow. Only if we COULD forgive and forget! How much easier life would be. And then to go on to say that it is not TOTAL forgiveness if we don’t pray for our enemies, the ones that have hurt us, to be blessed! (Matthew 5:44) Anyway, I am not here to rehash the book, but just to say forgiveness has to be done. We won’t ever like to do it…there will never be this mushy “feeling” or this “right” time like we will feel like it. It is a command from God (Matthew 6:14-15) and I think when we just “do” it, then all those feelings come after, over time, when we pray everyday for ourselves and for those other people. Satan is cunning and he does not want us to have a close relationship with God. “If you hate, you will give your enemy your heart and you mind”. (R.T. Kendall)


  2. Thanks, Tina, for your observations.
    The book sounds like an interesting read.
    You hit the nail on the head, in terms of what inspired this whole thing: forgiveness is a tremendous, almost terrifying act.
    I was also glad that you focused on the now of the whole thing. I’ve been wondering how to make it seem like the rooms are what we go through now, not something we go through after we die… I was glad that it spoke to you about the ways we live and forgive now, because that’s very much what I was thinking about.


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