I was sitting at a picnic table when it happened, eating a tikki masala chicken taco with a bunch of women ministers.
We sat there together in the sunshine, and as a random yellow jacket buzzed around and teams of cicadas chirped at each other from all sides, as if we were in the middle of a cicada pep rally, I focused on the quiet sounds of these women talking about their lives. One woman who works at a homeless shelter shared how she LOVES those people, and another talked about how great hospice is but that she’s really having fun now, shepherding a congregation, doing counseling and making hospital visits. Another woman looked at her plate and said shyly that she wasn’t in a ministry position right now, that she was home with kids, at which we all said, THAT’S A MINISTRY IF I EVER HEARD OF ONE. A brand new grandma showed us pictures on her phone of her grand baby girl, and we all oohed and ahh-ed at her perfect little head and her dark, knowing eyes. My friend Kendra spooned her almost three year old a bite of watermelon, which Hattie took in her hands and picked off the shriveled bits of mint to flick on the ground, “It’s food for the bugs,” she said. Then, as Hattie climbed down off the bench to run around a little, Kendra told us that she was having a boy. “We learned it from a diagnostic blood test at eleven weeks. Can you believe it?” As she explained that the lab can extract fetal cells from the mother’s sample and get all sorts of genetic information, I watched her unconsciously caressing her rounding belly. We all smiled and shook our heads in wonder.
I looked around the table at these women, these ministers, these nurturers of preschoolers and children and teens, of men and women (complete with their fears and hopes and anger and dreams,) of homeless people and patients in hospitals and the elderly, and I saw the truth. Of course God is a woman. God could be a man, too, I would think. But today, God was mostly a woman.
And God must be a mother, too. The women at that table showed me that. Take a needle to God’s arm, draw blood, and put it on a slide. Look under the microscope and you’ll see all of us there, you and me, men and women, Her children, swimming around in what we think is our humdrum world. Going to work, cooking dinner, washing our socks, packing lunches and putting gas in our cars, trying to convince ourselves that we’re separate. That we live our own lives. Yes, but…
I love hanging out with people whose work it is to stand up and say, No. Not really! We’re not really separate. We’re not alone. God is there. God is HERE FOR YOU, AND SO AM I. I love these women (and men too) who show us God by sitting at our sides and whispering God’s courage into our ears, by walking beside us and handing us Kleenex, by listening and praying and listening some more. By challenging us and loving us and accepting us as God’s treasured children, no matter who we are or what we’ve done.
As our hour together began to close (there’s lot going on in God’s bloodstream, so we don’t dilly dally) I couldn’t help but notice Hattie in her pigtails, dancing in circles and singing up to the sky, taking breaks to scoop up pebbles to roll around in her hands and then scatter, watching how the light plays on them. I watched as she stopped to gently pick something up from under a tree. She brought it to her mother, cradling it in her hands.
“Oh,” Kendra said. “You brought me a dead cicada. Thank you, Hattie. It’s lovely, isn’t it?”
Hattie smiled at her mother and nodded, laid it gently on the bench, and went back to play.
I’m sure that Mother God beamed at the moment, this pigtailed mini-minister, just like her mommy, showing the world what it means to serve God, just by rejoicing being herself…feeding God’s bugs and dancing in Her sunshine, singing Her joy, rolling around Her pebbles as if they were gems (because aren’t they, so round and perfect?) cradling the living, treasuring the dead. Accepting whatever God has created as beautiful and good.
I think that’s the kind of minister I want to be.
I think I’ll go find some pebbles.