Category Archives: body

Herstory

Dear God,

I wish I could be with my mother right now.

I am grateful that she is just hours away, and not gone from this life like other friends’ mothers, but today I wish I could hold her hand and cry together. I wish I could squeeze her tight and tell her to her face, looking into her steady brown eyes, how wildly and deeply grateful I am for all the ways she has worked to fight for people to have better lives, to know they are loved by you, to live as though they know that love and believe others should know that love, too. I want to thank her face-to-face for all the ways she has sought justice, freedom from oppression, and a life full of joy for all and not just for herself. I want to thank her for all she has endured her whole life long as she spoke out for civil rights, carried a reusable bag for her groceries before it was cool (or the law) because she cares about your creation, and kept her given name because it is who she is – married or not – and she has always lived into that identity that you first gave her.

I want to hold her and tell her that her assault experience at the hands of someone in authority who told her no one would believe her anyway if she said anything was not her fault. I want to cry with her because she was brave enough to speak out eventually and to encourage other women to speak out. I want to cry with her because my own assault experiences are largely quieted away because I fear what people will think of me and because somehow, with all my liberal arts education and belief in the value of women and upbringing with such encouragement and empowerment, I still feel ashamed of myself that they happened at all, I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should know that I did nothing to deserve what happened except be a woman, and I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should be angry and outspoken instead. I want to cry with her because women are still not believed, just like that man said to her forty years ago. Just watch the news, God. You know.

I want to pop a champagne cork with my mother, who doesn’t like champagne near as much as I do but who has always been an enthusiastic laugher and encourager and has celebrated me in my accomplishments, because today there is a woman running for the highest office in our country. And it doesn’t matter what she’s done or how people feel about her, how I feel about her. Less than 100 years ago, women couldn’t even vote, were not even treated as valuable enough for a voice in the political process, how we live out living together in this land. Women, half of the population, so many of them devout women of faith who know that how we live out our lives together needs to be something that starts with what we believe about you and how YOU want us to live out our lives together, had no way to exercise that in the way we live together as Americans in these United States. I want to pop a champagne cork, not because a candidate makes everything okay (no candidate can make everything okay), but because I still get called a “lady pastor” and see the surprise on people’s faces when I introduce myself, and have to repeat to them that I am THE pastor of the church I serve. But a woman has run for president. 

Do you remember when I was a little girl, God? Do you remember how fearless and confident I was? Before I learned how to internalize the shame others would want me to feel for my body being big or my voice being big and my thoughts being many and smart? Back when I saw how strong and determined my mother was to be who you created her to be and believed that’s how life simply is for us all? I’m sorry I let her go away in the face of words, experiences, and learning that life simply isn’t that way for so many because freedom isn’t equitably lived in this place. I’m grateful that my eyes were opened to realize that great as this nation I did nothing to be born a citizen of has been in some ways, there are so many ways that “greatness” has been built through the oppression of so many freedoms and the preservation of inequities and iniquities for the benefit of a few or a simple majority. I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger and more sure of who I have always been in you. Today I am remembering it all, and I am remembering who I am in you a bit better. And I am forgetting the horrible words that have been hurled at me because of daring to be different from a standard of subservience and daring to serve in roles men have long dominated. I am setting the weight of experiences and learned shame down, and standing on top of them for a better view of the world around me and the many other people who still bear the weight of injustice, oppression, and despair. I will stand up for a better position from which to use my voice to feel empowered and even better to empower others. I want to be like my mother.

Thank you for her. Thank you for her story. Thank you for letting me be a part of her story. Thank you that I still have her hands to hold and eyes to look into, even if I can’t do that today. Thank you for calling me your precious child, too. Thank you for giving me a voice. Thank you for bringing me through so much and for all the things I haven’t had to face by your mercy and by circumstance. Thank you for letting me be a part of herstory today, too. Help me to keep making herstory for the sake of the story you would have the world share for your glory, your joy, your will.

Amen.

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Dancing

Dear God,

Do you dance?  I mean, I’m guessing the Baptists (most of them, though there are lots of varieties) would say ‘no,’ of course.  But I really was thinking about it earlier today.  I prayed something with others around about hoping we had made you smile or whatever the closest thing is to smiling that you do.  And then later tonight it hit me again.  I thought “God will be dancing over this one” and then I thought – “How does God dance?  Good grief, does God dance?”

So, I’m taking my question to the source.  Do you dance?  Is this one of those things like “thunder is just God and the angels bowling” and I should think up more poetic explanations and answers like “Every sunset is God dancing” or “the wind in the trees is a holy two-step”?  I don’t know; somehow I feel like there’s something more majestic to be learned or observed or wondered here.

I understand that you are not corporeal (but for your incarnational self in Jesus Christ).  There’s something, then, that makes me grieve for you.  I love to dance.  I wish I danced more.  I wish I danced with more confidence.  There are times, though, when as unforgiving as I am with this body you gave me (which I doubly treat poorly – cultivating both bad eating and exercising habits, then turning around and criticizing my body for that), I catch a glimpse in the mirror as I dance around folding laundry and putting it away and think “I LOVE DANCING!”  I like how my body can do things to rhythm, how the form I take can somehow make the music mean more.  I’m no ballerina, but when I take ballet classes, my body puts movement to melody in a way that feels extraordinary.  Do you know what it is to dance if you don’t have a body?  Do you feel movement as the earth turns, the rhythm of seasons, the form of cold fronts as well as spiritual formation of hearts, minds, and bodies?  Do you feel me dance?

If so, I will dance for you.  I will dance for you as long as you let me, as often as I have strength.  I’d hate for you to miss out on dancing.

OH, MY GOD.  How silly of me!  Of course… I hear you in my head, singing a song I have danced to many times.  I danced to it on many Easters past – sometimes with crepe paper and popsicle stick streamers; I danced around the San Antonio district parsonage as a little girl with a little Maggie – yarn offerings flowing behind us; I sang it to Jack in those first few weeks where I had so much time alone with him in the wee hours, soothing him and doing that newborn dance that sways back and forth; truly, my heart dances each time I hear the song again.  You are my God, and you are the Lord of the Dance… “I danced in the morning when the world was begun,/ and I danced in the moon, and the stars, and the sun./ I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth./ At Bethlehem I had my birth./ Dance, then, wherever you may be./ I am the Lord of the Dance,” said he,/ “and I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,/ and I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

If that is so, I will dance for you, and I will dance with you.  Rachel always made me be the boy when we danced, so I’m terrible about leading whenever I dance now; it will be quite the relief to let you lead in the dance.  And so we come full circle to another prayer from earlier today: I am sorry for the ways I try to control, for the ways I get in the way.

Lead me; I will follow.  Let’s dance.

 

Amen.