For six years, I met every week with a group at my church. My church wasn't fancy. We had bought an old office building and it looked like it. The group met in a storage room full of old carpet and filing cabinets and playground equipment.
It was dusty and ugly and the folding chairs were hard metal. We took up a collection and eventually bought some tables and better chairs, but we still met in a cramped, ugly room.
We came back week after week, fed by our teacher, Mary Hill, who taught that class for over 20 years, week in and week out. We met and read and shared and learned, tiny bit by tiny bit. We confessed our weaknesses to each other. We laughed at stories of out of control egos, of times we got on our spiritual high horses and were suddenly brought low.
People got sick and died. Babies were born. People fell in love and got married, fell out of love and got divorced.
But week after week, we showed up.
When I moved, I found a new church and a new class, much the same. The chairs were a little more comfortable, but the progress was still as slow, chipping away at attitudes I had build up over years.
Most of the time it seemed like no progress was being made, but I knew I needed the spiritual food that just meeting with other earnest seekers provided.
Tonight I had to have a difficult conversation with a friend. We both had enough hurt to build a wall, but we didn't build a wall. Both of us have been doing our work, taking these classes where it seems like nothing happens, praying, changing in tiny ways.
So there we were. We let ourselves say the truth, be open, vulnerable, share our fears, our resentments, look each other in the eyes, hug, talk, change.
It is at moments like these that all the hours spent in cluttered rooms with texts that seem impenetrable prove their worth. All that study, all that willingness, comes to fruition in one moment of truth and vulnerability, a moment when love wins out over fear. Then it is all worth it, every uncomfortable moment, because real love, the kind of love where you can feel God step into the space between you, is worth any price.