I’ve had a recurring nightmare for the last three years:
The water is deep and after struggling to stay afloat for a long time, I’m about to drown. I see land in the distance. With what little strength I have left, I swim for it. I don’t think I can make it but somehow I do.
I crawl onto the shore and feel glad to be alive. But then I hear cries for help. I look back to where I had been and see that I left others behind and they still struggle against the deep.
I shouldn’t have left them. I should dive back in and go get them but I can’t because I am so tired and I can’t survive going out to the deep again.
I wave my arms and yell out to them. “There’s land here! Swim this way!”
Some don’t hear me. Others hear but refuse to move. Nevertheless, they continue to cry for help.
I’m out of my mind because I can’t help them. I should leave and press further inland to explore but I can’t just walk away and leave them behind. So I sit on the shore and weep as I listen to them cry out.
And that’s when I wake up.
I still love the people of the church. I cared for them my entire life. I visited the hospitals, sat with the dying, comforted the grieving, and counseled the troubled. I helped them when they were in a jam, celebrated with them during happy times, led them to acts of service, and taught them to the best of my ability.
I didn’t want to leave them behind but I couldn’t be like them anymore. I assumed that they wouldn’t want me in their lives if they knew how much I’d changed. Some did cut me off. Others haven’t but they don’t know what to do with me.
Many scientists say that humans come from creatures who lived in the sea and at some point in time, they came up out of the water to live on land. Maybe that’s what I’ve done mentally—evolved.
I think it’s fair to say that everyone is evolving at their own pace in their own direction. Maybe my nightmare is wrong and no one is really drowning but simply making their own way.
And maybe we’re not so far apart that we can’t still engage with each other. You know: talk… encourage… criticize… challenge… help… even argue.
Some people hope that I’m going to come back to their religion, but I’m hoping they’ll come forward and join me where I am. Maybe none of us will change but is there a context where we can talk reasonably? I admit it’s a struggle but isn’t it possible?
3 thoughts on “Evolution and Those Left Behind”
Thanks, David. You captured it exactly. Phil and I have shared those experiences (ministry, love for people in the church, unexpected evolution in our awareness, dreams of trying to find our way out of big old churches with dear people who wrestle with many problems and do not know what to think of us). Thanks for your honesty and continued care for others.
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Than you, Anne.
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Well said Anne. It’s really lonely at times, when you are changing your mind about what you’ve always thought. Not a lot of folks you can share it with.