Yesterday my travels took me past "that church" several times - the church Ben and I attended for a year or so. My attendance was sporadic, but Ben attended religiously, walking the 30 minute walk there and back every Sunday morning over an 18 month period. As you know from previous blog entries he went out of his way to try and fit in, and to get spiritual help - and the church failed him. Read more about it here.
Despite me explaining this to the pastor in November (and earlier, in January), the church has done nothing to attempt to win Ben back. I guess I kind of hoped they'd make a move and get in touch with Ben, invite him to a few activities, talk to him, include him... Especially with Christmas on its way. Good God, there must have been at least one young people's Christmas activity or event they could have invited him to!!!
But we heard nothing.
So that's twice in total over the past 12 months that I've been to see the pastor to ask him to help Ben, because - back then - Ben was crying out to be included in the church. And twice that the pastor - and the church - has failed him.
And, yet, I suspect they continued with their cosy Christmastide build-up - the cosy cliquey family that talks so much about "reaching out to the community" and the "needy", and doubtless does in the missionary money they send abroad, but when someone right on their doorstep reaches out - just about as obviously as you can reach out to someone - they do nothing.
And continue to do nothing.
In November I asked on this blog if I still felt angry with the church.
I didn't back then. Well, not really.
But I do now.
Especially as it was one of the only social outlets which Ben has actively sought out over the past couple of years. And persevered with.
Now he lonelier and more solitary than ever - and without the spiritual "hope" he had for so many, many months.
I remember the day he gave up trying. It was as if someone had switched the lights out and there was darkness. And it's probably not a coincidence that Ben's mood took a nose-dive afterwards and still hasn't recovered. Viz last weekend as a prime example.
This boy had hope. But in early 2012 he lost that hope - and I believe it has been one of the contributing factors to a slowing of his recovery this year.
I think this is one of the reasons why I've felt so numb this Christmas. I am angry with the church and with religion. Yet Christmas is all about religion. At least it is to me. Otherwise there is little point in it. I certainly don't celebrate the festive season to keep the supermarkets and department stores in profit. And I don't much see the point of celebrating mid-winter like the pagans do. Mid-summer, yes, but not the deep dark dank cold rainy mid-winter. But Christianity... well... it really is what Christmas is all about.
But when that very religion has let you down so disgracefully and you and your child are hurting as a result... well, sorry, but I'm not entirely sure why I'm supposed to be celebrating?
Here's a link to my post from March which explains what happened in more detail.