Well, I'm not Jewish or Buddhist, so I'm cutting straight to the pastor.
To say that my pastor and church failed me during the darkest period of my entire life is like saying Hitler had issues. Friends who have heard the story are appalled, which validates that I wasn't simply crazy with grief. At a time when I desperately needed spiritual comfort, my church of ten years forgot me.
Oh, but the signs were there.
Such as the day before Mom's surgery, when the wife of the assistant pastor emailed me, asking if I'd like to join a brainstorming session for future church services. I wrote back, explaining that I'd have to decline because my mother had just been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and I would be her primary caretaker. I also said she was entering the hospital the next day for surgery and asked that prayers be said for her.
How did the pastor's wife respond? She didn't. Nada, zip, zilch. Like I'd mentioned my mom was suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis or chronic dandruff.
And it gets better, folks.
Days after Mom died, I made an appointment to see my pastor and told his administrative assistant the reason why. I was grief-stricken and in total despair. Angry at God and confused at why He let this happen. I desperately needed spiritual counseling.
So there I was, sitting in the lobby and struggling to hold back the tears while my pastor kept me waiting ten minutes because hey, it was a hot day and he had gone out to get an ice-coffee.
As I sat in his office, barely able to speak because I was sobbing so hard, he simply sat there. Slurping his ice-coffee and nodding, occasionally saying things like, "Hmmm," or "That's too bad," or "I'm so sorry." Then, when I couldn't utter another word, he finally spoke. Did he quote the Bible? Recite scripture or say anything to help me make sense of what had transpired?
"You know what's really bad?" he asked. "The death of a child."
I was speechless. Was I suppose to feel better that it was JUST my old mother that had died and not some adorable little tyke? I left his office still grief-stricken and also newly befuddled.
What the hell had just taken place?
This appointment was seven weeks ago. Since that time, neither my pastor nor anyone from his staff has reached out to me even once to see how I'm doing. No emails, no phone calls, no "Hope you're hanging in there, God loves you." Nothing. Despite greeting me in the lobby every Sunday morning for over ten years, my sudden absence hasn't made a dent on their radar.
In a previous posting I wrote that a crisis reveals the worst in people as well as the best. I'm saddened to learn that this idiom applies to churches as well, which is why I won't be returning to my former house of worship.
Not that I'm done with God just yet. There's always still the Rabbi and the Monk.