Start small, I told myself. Go easy, start with the small things that make you afraid. We’ll get to the other stuff later, maybe someday.
And then yesterday, months, years, a lifetime, and today, into this new life without fear, I found myself in a room full of women, women I had never met in real life, and I loved them, right to Oklahoma and California and Maryland and between. When I saw them, sitting in an airport bar, real, I just had to stand there, watching them, because, God, women that breathe goodness are just so beautiful. (And they’re funny as hell.) (And they had a table full of empty glassware.) (And we’re loud.)
The ordination of the daily life rhythms together, showers, pajamas, faces scrubbed of make-up. We stayed up too late, woke up too early, ate good food, and I laughed until my face hurt. And we cried, and read Scripture and spoke truth until we were the redeemed, walking on holy roads, and I wanted to take up the lute, sing of how the scorched desert becomes the cool oasis.
I washed a lot of dishes, one after another after a counter-full-other, and listened. I could sit, rabbinical-pupil-style, at the feet of the women of God. How did I get here?
Thank you, Ancient One, for spiders and webs swinging in the breeze. Thank you for the sound of frogs singing, the sight of egrets swooping over lake water. Thank you for hammocks and the gift of time, and the small steps one after another, until I looked up and I could not believe where God had brought me, carried me, danced me, straight to joy.
I moved out to the dock, yesterday, in my bathing suit (it was the black one, the elastic is all shot to hell), contemplating an act of boldness, but I sprawled down, arms flung over my head, feet in the water. I thought about jumping in, I needed to jump in, but the water was dark and unfamiliar and so I sat, for a long time, alone in the quiet, and it was enough for me. A friend came, and we talked, and I went back inside, put my black clothes back on.
Moments later, I started small, all over again, by walking over to the dock. Wine glasses rested on the saturated wood dock, and we laughed, took pictures of the sunset, and I saw Megan looking longingly at the water, pulled towards and holding back, sitting on the edge. So I took off my glasses, surrounded by yet another church, I was braver than I was alone, and this was for us all.
I dove into the water, head first, still in my clothes. I surfaced to screams of delight and “Watch this cannon ball!” and “Here I come!” and then the dark water was full of women flinging themselves off and in, forward, bras and smart phones left on the dock.
I floated, toes up, head back, the sun setting above us, and Amber kept imploring us to remember this, to mark the moment, to look at the salmon pink sky, but dragonflies the size of hub caps kept buzzing into our hair, Joy was a free-spirit mermaid with seaweed coloured hair, we surfaced on the beach, dripping and free and cool, streaming with unfamiliar water, feet of mud and clay.
If someone would have walked into the water, calling out for Jesus, I would have baptised her, myself, right then and there. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we went under together, and came out, laughing, in another newness of life. Jesus did not come to make bad people into good people, Kelly told us (her voice is so low and musical), he came to bring the dead to life.
This morning, I sat on the damp dock, again, and a small group of us prayed and prayed and prayed. My coffee grew cold in my cup, there is still more – always more – time ahead, and I smell like lake water. I started small, and always, as always, it was enough for God to work the ordinary, extraordinary, miracle.