The Practical Theology of My Great Grandaunt Carrie

It has been a while since I have written about my great grandaunt Carrie, who served as my primary maternal figure from age 6 to 19. But, today, after spending the entire day at school, I am thinking about how she loved people. On a day like today, if she were alive and in close proximity, I would be able to go to her house, eat a home-cooked meal and decompress with no judgments or expectations. I took that for granted when I was growing up, that all she expected me to do was be a straight “A” student. She provided the home environment to facilitate that. While she could only read on a third grade level, she knew that if she loved me properly, I would prosper as a student, which I did. So, today, as I sit in my car, too tired to make the effort to go upstairs to my apartment, I think about her brand of love. It was a simple love that often manifested itself as a peaceful home, meals cooked with love, and a non-judgmental, caring ear. So, what happens to people when they don’t have a home like that to come home to and what role does the church play in that? Is the body of Christ in its local communal manifestations places to call home for the weary soul? Or do we put a noose around people’s neck by asking instead of accepting, judging instead of just letting people be, starving instead of feeding people? Do we have the capacity AND compassion to engage in radical yet simple love that provides nourishing life-blood for the soul OR do we leave people anemic with lack of love? As an artist, theologian, prophet and priest, how do I strike a balance between loving people as they are and helping them become their best selves in Christ Jesus? How do I deal with the multiple dialectics in the various roles in my life to serve people through practical, life giving, life sustaining up-close personal love instead of ivory tower agendas created by ordination and education, church government and ideology, doctrine and rhetoric? How do I engage in practical theology the way my Great-Grand Aunt Carrie did in a way that makes Jesus Christ proud that he paid the ultimate price for me?