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.

Photo by Kelly Sauer

In which I am here, breastfeeding, but not for much longer
In which I'm practicing
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  • This. I love.

  • Tears…I didn’t want to go. So I sent them all to church and stayed home in the quiet… maybe to read this. I’m just going to sit here and let this soak deep into me…let it help me to remember and to hope. Thank you, Sarah.

  • AllisonO of O My Family

    As a witness and then a benefactor of this moment, I say amen. I say amen to starting small, to seeing that it can and does have waves of impact.

  • Erica Ladd

    Words for the soul! So beautiful, and what an amazing gathering of talented women.

  • Terence Grandfield

    As the circles in the water start small when you jumped in they continue to grow larger and larger. lovely post!

  • Diana Trautwein

    Deep sighs here. So, so lovely. What a gift a time like this is in the life of women – nothing quite like it. Thanks for sharing pieces of it with all of us.

  • Sisterhood and freedom, bravery and baptism in the fullness of the Spirit. I feel like I was witness, too. Thank you for sharing the words so beautifully while the moment was still fresh.

  • Oh, Sarah! So beautifully said. “…braver than I was alone…” So good.

  • Beautiful, poetic and real. We all need and crave those close moments with people who make us feel brave and alive. So glad you received the gift of this

  • There was so much holy joy in this post! I loved it.

  • Good grief, Sarah. Yes. This. It’s full of beauty and love and restoration and freedom…I love. LOVE.

  • I read your post and let out a deep sigh, Sarah… for the beauty of your words (My goodness girl! You can write!) and my own longing for so much more. Thank you…

  • This is so beautiful. As someone who enjoys the beauty of water and female fellowship, I simply love this.

  • Those shoes on the dock, scattered. It’s what one does on holy ground, you know. Skin laid bare to the elements because we feel the weight of God’s glory and it both terrifies and woos.

    I watched this magic from inside the kitchen, where my hands were baptizing lettuce and peppers and my soul smiled wide, and I was suddenly glad I was standing in bare feet.

  • The fellowship and joy in this is so nice to read. And as someone who never passes up diving into outdoor water, YAY for the refreshing experience of diving in fully clothed!

  • I’m still overwhelmed by the weekend. But this moment (when I only watched) is one of my favorites. Love you.

  • Beautiful, Sarah. And Kelly’s photo is perfection, as well. So many moments to mull over and cherish and never, ever forget.

  • LoveFeast Table

    Perfectly captured! Jumping in with you & feeling refreshed and grateful. ~Chris Ann

  • Deep sigh of regret.

  • Tammy

    Beautiful….It makes me remember my own hesitation at entering the pool and later, jumping right in, in my clothes and feeling so naked and swimming in grace.