Unscripted by Jaymie Horak
“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession,” I said to the priest, reciting my side of the script perfectly. My feet dangled from the chair and my plaid dress was flattened perfectly around my knees for modesty. I used the sing songy voice that my class would practice with so I could avoid my stutter rearing its ugly head. At second grade, I knew this had to be perfect. These confessions would clear my seven-year old sins allow me to begin receiving Holy Communion. And this man was one of the few who had the powers to forgive me.
Now I sit on the floor of an elementary school auditorium as my pastor Colby gives a sermon about radical inclusion, and that are all welcome for communion. I think about the day I came to church after my dog died, and my other pastor Kate encouraged me to let it all out, to cry all the tears that existed inside of me. “Do not hold it all in.” Or the time she asked me to share some of my story at the end of one of her sermons, and she didn’t even tell me what to say.
I grew up with a script and with a stutter. It’s no wonder I started writing in journals as young as six or seven. My voice was dying to get out of me. Very few places, especially for children, encourage finding your own voice. A unique voice is the first thing many religions try to take away - specifically the voices of women, children, minorities, the poor, the non-straight/cis binary, the disabled. Even the voice of the honored man standing on stage has often been decided. Some have a legitimate script that has been in place for generations. But some don’t look like a script until you peer closer.
Between the two opposites was another church, with its all male pastoral team, but promise that maybe, one day, after a bunch of the older people who gave most of the money died, they’d bring in a woman and call her pastor. Or how the lead pastor rarely allowed other people to speak on his stage, and even then did so much introducing that it took most of the words from the person. And I get it. You have to control, don’t you? How could anyone let someone stand up in front of a hundred people without controlling what happens? Wouldn’t that be be chaotic and messy?
And yet, Sojourn. A little chaotic and messy oftentimes. We mirror life in that wonderful and glorious way. I get a little nervous without a script, so I really like that we all hold hands at the end and repeat the same words together. I think there’s a stability we all need. It’s our bond. It allows us to remember what our values are. To be brave and speak your voice. To be kind and listen to the voices of those we may be hurting or oppressing. The beauty of our voices together is that never has there been such a combination of energies in the same room. And God, if she exists among us and I personally believe she does, rejoices in the celebration of our differences.