May 4, 2019. My 28th wedding anniversary. The day Rachel Held Evans died. In the middle of a swirling maelstrom of emotions because of these and myriad other circumstances, I come to the calm in the centre of the storm: sitting with the Spirit and writing.
I was, moments ago, washing dishes. Washing dishes and taking a shower are two activities that frequently bring me to the presence of the Spirit (thank you to Kathleen Norris and Quotidian Mysteries for opening that door). Is it the water? The washing? The utter mundanity? I’m not entirely sure, but I know that somehow the veil between here and there is thinner while practicing these two commonplace activities.
So, as my hands were immersed in soapy water I was thinking about Rachel Held Evans and the profound effect her passing has had on me. My first question to myself was, “Why?” Why is her death so affecting? I haven’t read her work. I can’t point to one of her books and say that it had a deep impact on me. I’ve been absorbed in Frederick Buechner. I’ve been reading queer theologians and advocates. I’ve been deep in house, and school, and depression, and dogs, and poop, and job, and relationship, and community, and Advent and Lent, and, and, and. I will get to her; she’s young. But I didn’t get to her. Her work outlives her, yes, but I’ve missed the opportunity to engage with a living, dynamic thinker and writer.
But there’s more. I read people’s tributes that talk about the kind of person Ms. Evans was, how she has affected them, the impact on the world she has made. And I want to be part of that. I want to be brave. I want to fearlessly engage on issues I am passionate about. I want to be compassionate. I want to speak for the marginalized. I want to call the church back to itself. I want to somehow, in some small way, be a part of what Ms. Evans was a part of.
I have been feeling a great deal of unrest recently. The Spirit is stirring something in me, calling me to something. As yet, it has remained out of focus, nebulous. Perhaps I am feeling overwhelmed because the Spirit is calling me to write. Write! Write! Write! Don’t waste any more time! A woman 20 years my junior didn’t wait; she dove in to the Spirit’s calling. And thanks be to God she did, because if she had waited till she was my age we wouldn’t have heard her voice, we wouldn’t have her words to come back to again and again.
This past season of Lent has been, for me, a journey into facing not only my fears, but facing my fear. Fear has dictated so much of my life.
What will people think?
What if it doesn’t work out?
What if it’s hard?
What if people don’t like me or what I have to say?
What if the Divine Family surrounds me the whole way?
What if the Spirit has been working and will continue to work with and for me?
What if my voice is one that needs to be heard?
What if I can be brave and fearless, and compassionate?
What then if my voice rises above fear to speak of God’s love and compassion? What then if ten voices rise to speak of inclusion and community? What then if a thousand voices rise above fear to speak of grace and forgiveness?
Spirit, stir the maelstrom until I can do no other than to rise up and speak light into darkness, love into pain, and forgiveness into hate.
Photo: Easter Morning Sunrise – Heather Holtslander