Even When I Saw It Coming

There are a few moments in life in which I am blindsided by an emotional reaction.  When I tell a story in a sermon in which I have an emotional reaction I actually read it or speak it over and over so I can get the “emotion” out. The story is still moving, but when I’m preaching I need composure to be able to move on. I don’t have the option of breaking down for a few minutes (although this has happened and it’s okay when it does, but it can’t happen EVERY time).

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend and I was telling him that I cry at the same moment in baptisms.  The “Thanksgiving over the water” as I touch the water for the first time with (most of the time) a baby in my arms, I cannot help but be moved. Is it the deep seeded promise of the baptism? Is it the beautiful baby? Is it the energy of the room and the overwhelming love that is felt? I don’t know, and can one really be separate from the other?

But even when I know it’s coming, I can feel it, I can see it ahead of time and try to stop it, the emotion still rushed forward.

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This happened to me yesterday.

A week or so ago a parishioner texted me and asked permission to quote part of the benediction I use (you can find it here, embedded in my statement of faith) in her Christmas/New Year’s Letter. Of course, I said. The words are not mine (and even if they were you could have them anyway), but are associated with me.

So when I took the mail out of the mailbox yesterday and saw the card with her return address I knew what was coming. I knew she was ending the letter with the quote.

So I read the letter in the kitchen while warming up dinner, knowing her family well, smiling at their successes and her pride and love for them. Yet when I reached those words, the words I say every week and knew were coming… when I read them, I began to cry.

“Those who you love, and even with those whom nobody loves”

Even when I saw it coming, I cried.

I thank God for these moments that remind me that my faith is not just in my head, some say we cannot always trust the emotional reactions, but I say, for me at least, they are a reminder that faith is more than words, faith is felt, held deep inside, a place that can be touched even when my head anticipates and tries to block it.

Child of Blessing, Child of Promise

Last week was unco West, which meets at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Just like all other uncos (which is short for unconference) it was amazing, and I met people I wondered how I ever lived without and spent some time with the people that feed my soul.  At the end of the last worship we decided to give each other a blessing, with water. We remembered our baptism, washed away our shame, and blessed each other with abundance and permission. As a worship leader the bowl was started near me and I was privileged to be one of the last to be anointed.

So it’s my turn to go forward and I have been holding a 2 year old little girl. We do this at unco, rely on the community for everything, including entertaining each other’s children. It is church and community in the truest form. She and I have been playing for a while now and her mom is in front of us.  Kath turns around and anoints her daughter, a beautiful moment for everyone, but then this precious girl dips her fingers into the water and touches my forehead.

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I have baptized many children- all special, all sacred moments, all a privilege, but never have I received an blessing from a child. Not this way.

I have experienced the grace of both of my children, I have been anointed with bath water, spit-up and snot. I know that this little girl was simply mimicking what her mother did, but she did it. She touched my forehead with her tiny fingers and wiped that cold tap water on my head. She blessed me.

I have a lot to atone for in my life, enough shame to last 10 lifetimes- but in that moment- there was purity of joy, there was innocents in my arms and on my head. God came in that moment in the hands of a child and pushed me out of myself. Love is like that. That sweet girl through her fingers blessed me with innocence and grace.

May she (and I) grow to be a strong woman of faith and wisdom. In the name of all that is good and holy. Amen.