Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.
November 5, 2017 marks two deeply important accomplishments. My firstborn turns eighteen this day. His birthday marks not just his remarkable and beautiful life, but my emergence into the eternal call of motherhood. This day is the day I harken back to that early morning under the harsh, antiseptic glare of the operating room in Boulder, Colorado. The squalling infant coaxed and pulled and whisked away for further monitoring. His cry known, imprinted upon this mother. The force of my maternal instincts, an indeterminable sensation from which I will never know full release.
And this November 5, 2017* also marks the birth of a new life for the Church. This date will be our first Sunday, meeting together as a congregation. The three year long gestation fraught with starts and stops, notions and dreams, excitement and utter boredom. The waiting, if anything, is what will undo a person in these times. And I have waited.
Boy, have I waited.
On this November 5 I say good-bye to the child I once knew, holding him near but not too close, for fear of preventing his becoming.
And on this November 5 I say hello to the new arrival, turning her form over between my palms – inspecting, wondering, examining. I will take in her color, her features, her cry and her knowing look. I will shed a tear with a simultaneous laugh, alongside my partners and cohorts, friends and loved ones who have equal participation in the life of this body. With equal parts exhaustion and joy, our vulnerability exposed, we will usher her into the world of our beloved community.
I have joined ranks with the most qualified and generous humans who love her as much as I do, who dream about serving through her in the most wonderful of ways. Ways that honor gifts, talents, and dreams. Ways that consider awe and miracles, mercy and hope. As we prepare her home and consider her name, we dream of the holy work we will accomplish through her. Of the people she will love. Of the hearts she will touch. Of the wounds she will heal.
I yearn for us to gather together at her table filling up with the bread of her brokenness, the wine of her sacrifice, the bounty of her love, the heart of her compassion.
I want my beloved friends, neighbors, people to discover and believe, to know the wholeness of the Church, the hope of the Church, the generous love of the Church.
We are a species built for hope, not designed for despair. When hope dims, we do too. The Church is God’s expression of hope to the world. But the Church has not always cared for us well. The Church has abused its power and allowed our worst parts to manifest. I am not immune to the pain we have inflicted, nor am I immune to the good we have done. I have received both. I have dealt both. And now in these times, more than ever it seems, we ache for the warm embrace of community, the promise of being known as we are, the confidence of being loved as we are, the delight of being accepted – through and through, body, mind, soul to the marrow of the bone.
Hope has felt far this season. Light and dark are at odds, evil and good sparring hard. I scan and scroll, hunting for goodness, surveying for truth. The efforts tempt me toward despair, but I find joy, relief, hope in the work. This young dream, a call, emerging as an amorphous blob, nondescript with nothing but the tiniest hint of a pulse. The fire in my belly persisting, feeding in the middle of the night, keeping her alive despite my attempts to deny her existence. And now, a definable form, still incubating but alive and kicking, carrying me from day to day on the tide of her beauty and light, her wonder.
Friends, what I have seen and what I know to the core of who I am is nothing short of miraculous. This awaited new life, she’s going to take our breath away. She will be made beautiful through our imperfect humanity. Her life and breath, for us. Her heart, for us, for ALL of us. Her beauty, ours. Her love, generous.
The light of Love and tender mercy will shine bright, darkness has no power that will vanquish her flame. Radiating, pouring out in and through the beauty of us, her people, her blessed chosen ones, persisting. All of us participating in her expression to the world.
We return to hope. We celebrate the change that happens through the shifts and bends of time. We grieve the past, we heal, we step back into the world, remembering how very loved we are. This love that will never let us go. This love that is made perfect through our human imperfection. This love that persists in the despair, delights in our flaws, restores through redemption, resurrection –
November 5 is the day I first became, the day I experienced true love mixed with true fear – coalesced into the string bean form of a hollering, blue-eyed, bloody infant. And this November 5 will be the day I say hello to a new love, a new life.
I can’t wait to meet her.