There are a few moments in life in which I am blindsided by an emotional reaction. When I tell a story in a sermon in which I have an emotional reaction I actually read it or speak it over and over so I can get the “emotion” out. The story is still moving, but when I’m preaching I need composure to be able to move on. I don’t have the option of breaking down for a few minutes (although this has happened and it’s okay when it does, but it can’t happen EVERY time).
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend and I was telling him that I cry at the same moment in baptisms. The “Thanksgiving over the water” as I touch the water for the first time with (most of the time) a baby in my arms, I cannot help but be moved. Is it the deep seeded promise of the baptism? Is it the beautiful baby? Is it the energy of the room and the overwhelming love that is felt? I don’t know, and can one really be separate from the other?
But even when I know it’s coming, I can feel it, I can see it ahead of time and try to stop it, the emotion still rushed forward.
This happened to me yesterday.
A week or so ago a parishioner texted me and asked permission to quote part of the benediction I use (you can find it here, embedded in my statement of faith) in her Christmas/New Year’s Letter. Of course, I said. The words are not mine (and even if they were you could have them anyway), but are associated with me.
So when I took the mail out of the mailbox yesterday and saw the card with her return address I knew what was coming. I knew she was ending the letter with the quote.
So I read the letter in the kitchen while warming up dinner, knowing her family well, smiling at their successes and her pride and love for them. Yet when I reached those words, the words I say every week and knew were coming… when I read them, I began to cry.
“Those who you love, and even with those whom nobody loves”
Even when I saw it coming, I cried.
I thank God for these moments that remind me that my faith is not just in my head, some say we cannot always trust the emotional reactions, but I say, for me at least, they are a reminder that faith is more than words, faith is felt, held deep inside, a place that can be touched even when my head anticipates and tries to block it.