February 24, 2011

To pastor a King: The King's Speech

Last night my friend Koby and I went to see The King's Speech and I woke up this morning with it still playing in mind.  A friend suggested to me before that this film is an example of what the Church is or could be, and I think that truly it is.  And certainly it is how I understand the Church in my own life.
In this historical account, an uneducated speech therapist with unorthodox methods coaches the future (and then current) King of England in the 1930s.  The relationship between the future King--the Duke of York, Albert--and his speech therapist is nothing short of magnificent.
Bertie (as the future King is called in the film) at first wants only to fix his stammer--simply change the mechanics of his speech.  The therapist--Lionel--insists that to cure Bertie they must do the work behind the stammer--addressing Bertie's fear, anger and the abandonment he experienced as a child. What entails is the real work of a soul in the process of change and fighting it and every step. As friendship emerges between these two men, both of them are transformed.  Both find voice that they did not fully have before.
Lionel was essentially Bertie's spiritual director.  As a spiritual director, Lionel walked alongside Bertie through darkness and rejection, continuing to open windows of truth and grace in his life.  Lionel heard the booming voice of a soul behind Bertie's stammering words and called it out of him.
This is the work of a spiritual director: to call out the hidden self from the deep place in another, to listen to and name the voice deep inside the other that is perhaps only a whisper at the moment.
Lionel gives Bertie the gift of Belovedness.

I have a few people who have done this kind of work in my life. My friend Koby is one of those people. Spiritual friends, spiritual directors, true pastors, and real mentors are precious gifts in life.  When you divinely stumble on someone who calls out the Belovedness in you, pushes you to hear the sound of your own voice, and teaches you to express your anger and move through it, you have found a person of God for you.
And amazingly, God works through people who may not even know what it is to be a follower of Christ.  And doing the work of calling out Belovedness in another, enables that person to begin to receive it more as well. The work of God begets the work of God. Giving Belovedness away allows you to receive more Belovedness.  This is our spiritual work as the Church.

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