Wednesday, October 20, 2010

we come to bless. not to judge.

“You ready to go kick some demon's asses?” I joked, as we turned the corner....

A few weeks back, I got a voice mail from a parishioner.

It was Carol—she used to run the Clothing Closet at First Trinity.

For various reasons she doesn't come around so much anymore.

(But, no doubt, of course, she is still part of the family).

The voice mail went something like this:

“Ummm... Pastor.... Hi. This is Carol... Ummm... I know this might sound a little weird... or superstitious... or something, but we've been having some sort of dark—some sort of not-so-nice—things going on in our building lately, and well, Cosmo and I and our landlord, and our neighbors—we were all wondering if you'd be able to do, like, a Blessing of the House for us....?

“And we were wondering how much something like that would cost.”

I called her back,(assuring her that God's grace is free), and we scheduled a day for the blessing.

It turns out that the so-called “dark stuff” that had been going on over there was just that: quite dark.

That week a teen couple who occupied the downstairs of the building, and who had been patrons of God's Closet—the clothing pantry Carol used to run—was alleged to have murdered their baby boy. Multiple ribs and his head were fractured when he was found.

About three months prior another baby had died in the building due to unnamed complications. The mom of that baby still lives there.

Reportedly, there was also other negativity hovering around the place in the form of underemployment, broken relationships, illnesses, and other such stuff I just didn't retain.

Dark stuff.



(though I quickly agreed to the task),

Carol was right.

I did find the idea superstitious.

And weird.

And completely foreign to any so-called enlightened form of religion that I considered myself to be part of.

And superstitious.

And weird.

And: I've never done this sort of thing before.

And: What the hell is this half exorcism/half blessing/half O-God-help-me-I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-talking-about-they-didn't-prep-us-for-this-in-the-so-called-liberal-Lutheran-seminary-(that's-not-really-that-liberal)-but-they-should've.

Well I don't do stuff alone.

So I called a deacon.

One I imagined would be interested.

Actually I facebook-ed her:

“you interested in exorcising Carol and Cosmo's building with me this week?”

“"lol"? ....kay. why not.”

So we were set.

Kind of.

First some research.

Thank you Google.

And Catholics who use Google.

We got some good preliminary research. And pictures.

The 'day of' was busy. We were cleaning out and repainting the place called God's Closet that I keep talking about. And as always, a last minute request to help a guy move an old piano put us just a little behind schedule.


Rushed home.

Cleaned up.

Diana looked up more info on the internet in the living room with my roommate while I de-stankified and put on my pastor-shirt.

We were ready:



Paschal candle from the front of church,



most importantly:

Holy Water.

We walked the block from my place to theirs.

“You ready to go kick some demon's asses?” I joked, as we turned the corner....




But then we turned the corner all the way.


Whoa. Shit.

That weird twisty-butterfly-y-solar-plexus-knotting-up feeling mixed with a feeling like pins-and-needles-lite running from the back of the head down the spine and then maybe all the way to the knees (but hard to tell), and then running back up to that twisty-knot thing in the middle again. Oof.

'Round the corner, there was, like, the whole block gathered there in front of the house.

There were candles out front. A bunch of them.

And poster-boards.

Dedicated to the babies who died.

With prayers and well-wishes written on them.

We greeted some folks.

Met some folks.

Carol invited us in.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

We begin.

Light the candle.

Read from the Gospel of John:

“...The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it...”


Carol carries it.

(The candle).

Diana has incense and chalk.

I get the holy water.

We start in the garden level apartment and work our way up.

A family follows us.

First Apartment: Our Lady of Guadalupe. Everywhere.

Second Apartment: The other “Madonna” Topless in the living room.

Nudey calendar in the kitchen.

Apology to the pastor for those.

As if I've never seen such a thing.

“No need to apologize. We're here to bless. Not to judge.”

Oh yeah. That is what we're here to do.


We go through the whole house, splashing doorways, chalking crosses, swirling incense, carrying the light. Into the darkness. And the darkness did not overcome it.

We go outside for a prayer vigil.
Place the candle with the rest.

A guy with a beer translated my prayers into Spanish.

People pray.

“Hail Mary...” Oh yeah. I forgot the Catholics dug that one...

People bring up their babies and children for blessings.

Lots of them.

And some adults.

We leave. Gotta get to Bible study.

We go back to church transformed.

We leave that block transformed.

I think.

Lights in the darkness.

We come to bless and not to judge.

I think this is going somewhere...

So... this experience had a great effect on me. I will reflect on it next time I blog, I suppose... Peace, friends.

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