photo © 2006 Hamed Saber | more info (via: Wylio)
My physio is one of my heroes. I suffer from a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and started seeing him almost exactly eleven years ago. The condition started during my second pregnancy and rendered me unable to walk.
I was told it would get better after the birth, but it didn't..
then after I stopped breastfeeding, but it didn't...
then after my son was a year old..
but it didn't!
I was seeing physios on the NHS, but it wasn't improving.. and then I heard that there was a physio who could help, and so I spent money I seriously didn't have to go and see him. It was worth every penny a hundred times over.
Not only is he a miracle worker, he is a really good guy. He is candid, honest, caring, wise, respectful and fun. I see him about once every six months these days, and for me it is like seeing a Spiritual Director.
We talk about the church, society, morality, spirituality, and he bends my ear about where the church is getting it right or wrong. Is he a Christian? - no. Will he ever go to church? - no way! I found out why very soon into our friendship:
When he was eighteen, he married his seventeen year-old girlfriend. They thought it was a good idea. It wasn't. They parted on good terms and were divorced within the year.
Some years later, he fell in love and wanted to marry his sweetheart.. in church... It was important to his wife-to-be, I think they were both reasonably spiritual, and she had always dreamed of marrying in her village church.
Well you can guess what happened.
The answer was no.
He was hurt.
He felt like he was being told he was no good.
He had committed the unforgivable sin.
He was a second-class husband.
When my physio told me this story, the anger and pain raged in his eyes, which was shocking really, because he is such a warm and happy man, with twinkly, shiny, mischievous eyes. It was also shocking because the event had happened over twenty-five years earlier.
So I wanted to ask him whether he could find it in his heart to forgive the church. But I didn't, because I knew he would respond by saying that the church refused to forgive him, so why should he forgive them?
I guess this story is not unique.
I was reminded of my Physio yesterday. I was writing the Order of Service for our wedding and was anxious to get it right, dot all the 't's and cross all the 'i's.... oops - that isn't right is it?
I was on the internet trying to find out what we must do, who we must speak to, as divorcees, where the Winchester Report might be found and what it says (the report that allows divorcees to be married in church).
In my Googling, I got more and more depressed. It sapped all my joy. The church appeared to be begrudging, small-minded, judgemental and generally miserable. Furthermore, psychologists will tell you that it is pointless and naive attributing blame... marriage breakdown is complex and simple stories of blame are to be treated with suspicion. But it feels that the church does blame, so either they didn't do that sort of research or thought it was irrelevant. In the reports, divorcees appeared to be thought of as second class, woefully negligent and broadly an unwelcome embarrassment.
Nothing like feeling loved, accepted and forgiven.
And the reports of the Church seemed to be nothing like those things.
I understand the hurt of my physio so much more now.
I have picked up a bit since surfing the net, but I feel like there is a disapproving shadow that the church casts, and it is painful. It really does hurt. The truth is that most Vicars are much more caring, loving and forgiving than the reports suggest... but there again, I guess it can be a bit of a lottery.
Of course, if you murder your ex-partner, serve your time and say sorry you can remarry in the Catholic Church or any Church of England church, I believe.
Murder is forgivable... for some it seems that divorce is not.