A Word About Healing

Posted: June 3, 2021 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

By Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner

This post is for my Queer church folxs… but the rest of y’all can eavesdrop. Last week, I started physical therapy to try to get myself back to full-functioning after a 20 foot fall this year. For the past few months, every time my back started to hurt again, I shut down everything. If it was bad enough, I would try to lay still for days and hope it would stop. I was terrified, and every time the pain came back, I was convinced that I was broken again and that I’d never heal.

I did not understand what was happening in my body, or which parts of me the trauma had hurt. No one had ever explained it to me. No one took the time. The broken bones were obvious, but they were actually the first to heal. It was the deeper tissue that wasn’t making any progress, because I would not let it move and I would not let it heal.

I did not know what was wrong with me, and I was not getting the help I needed, so I gave up trying to ask for help.

Until last week, when I finally got a great physical therapist, who took the time to explain to me what was happening inside my body. He seemed totally convinced that I was going to be fine, and I started to believe it too.

Every time I had felt pain, I thought it was the bones, and I rushed to protect them. In doing so, I shut down the healing. The physical therapist explained that I was living my life too guarded. I was afraid of being broken again, so I was guarding that entire part of my body. I did not use my abs to sit up, I used my biceps to push myself up. I did not bend at the waist, I squatted with my quads. My arms and legs became a wall, protecting my core – they got stronger, while the rest of me got weak.

My back muscles – the ones responsible for my stability – atrophied, and I never helped them come back, because I interpreted the pain of healing as the pain of brokenness. My fear of being broken forever kept me from being able to recover.

My physical therapist could poke at my back and tell me the places that I had not let heal, because they were the places that were still tender, where I had shut down whenever they started to move and repair and heal.

“You’re moving so guarded. We’ll work on that.”

I’ve been thinking about how we as Queer folxs in the church have been moving in ways that are guarded, moving in ways that we have learned to move in order to survive and fend off the most vicious attacks. We intended to protect old brokenness, but we are actually blocking new healing.

I want to say to you today: We won’t be broken always. I want to believe that enough that you begin to believe it too. The way that my physical therapist believed me into believing.

I’ve been thinking about all the trauma that we’ve experienced, and the ways that we cannot even begin to understand the places that it has harmed us. I’ve been thinking about the walls that we build as Queer folxs in the church, ESPECIALLY my context, the United Methodist Church… ESPECIALLY those of us who are clergy. The way we use other parts of ourselves, and other emotions to guard what is tender and keep it from feeling anything… unknowingly keeping it from healing.

When I came out, my mother told family members, “Well, Hannah can just stay celibate.” She was very content with viewing a future for me where I would never use the muscle that is my heart, where it could atrophy for all she cared. If I listened to her, I would go through life feeling always that I was broken, never beginning to heal. So I keep trying to use it, clumsily and anxiously pushing through the pain, struggling to remember to breathe, trying to be less guarded, asking for the help I need. I believe my heart is a powerful muscle, and I want to use it well.

We church kids have built up a lot of defenses, afraid of experiencing and re-experiencing our deepest griefs – when the pain shoots up to 7 or 8 or 9 on a scale of 10. But maybe we’ll find that if we push through the 2 or 3 or 4, we can actually get ourselves down to a 1.

We’ll never heal if we are too afraid of the process, too afraid to ask for the help we need, too afraid to start somewhere, too afraid of the pain to be able to feel the joy.

We won’t be broken always… I want to believe that enough that you begin to believe it too.

Original Facebook post: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4289563091094690&id=100001231239403&sfnsn=mo

The Obituary for My Dad

Posted: March 30, 2021 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

Ralph Paul Horan, 77, died Tuesday March 9th, 2021 at his home in Leesburg, VA.

In 1961, he graduated Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia, where he played trumpet in the marching band. Following graduation, Ralph enlisted and proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps. Upon discharge, Ralph worked as a manufacturing engineer for Sonex, Inc in Philadelphia, PA, which helped build the back-pack communication devices for the Apollo space program. Ralph later joined the New Jersey State Police. After relocating to Florida in 1986, he began a 30+ year career as a real estate broker.

Ralph was an active member of the American Legion, Bugles Across America, and Taps for Vets, playing the trumpet at veteran funerals to honor their military service. Preceded in death by his parents, Paul Sr. and Ann Horan, and two siblings, brother Paul Horan Jr. and sister Barbara Longman. He is survived by his beloved wife of 48 years, Terry Ann Horan, his son Matthew and wife, Susan, his son Michael and wife, Shallyn, his son Andrew and wife, Diane, his daughter Kathryn and her husband Nathaniel, his 4 precious grandchildren, Jenna, Ashley, Olivia, and Owen, his sister Nancy McGraw, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Memorial services will be held May 8th, 2021 at 11:00am at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 140 E. Mt. Airy Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19119, with Reverend Bill Waters officiating.  

Do No Harm–It’s My First Rule of Bookselling

Posted: January 15, 2021 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

Remotely Intellectual

The other day, this lovely young woman came in to the bookstore and asked if we had any Christian books.


It was kind of awkward… because we have a spirituality section. But let’s just stay it leans heavily toward Buddhism, general spiritual pursuits (mindfulness, crystals, auras), and witchcraft. We do have a few Christian books. But they’re ones folks happened to donate. Which is to say, it’s certainly not a well-curated selection.

And, unexpectedly, as I was looking at this rather earnest young woman, I felt really bad about that.

My dance with Christianity has been long and storied. And, let’s suffice it to say that I have closed the chapter on that part of my spiritual journey. But, as often happens when you’re grieving a loss (and finally understanding that your childhood religion will no longer work for you–that it’s actually causing you great harm–is a loss), I…

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Sermon starts at 18:40.