A friend of mine, a lay-woman, gave the homily at her church on Mother's Day. I had told her I probably wouldn't be there, given the religious conflicts I have that I've already mentioned. She wants to keep trying to stretch the skin of the christian church into a truly gender-inclusive container that teaches god as being both masculine and feminine. I support her, but I think I'm finished with that. So I affirmed her efforts and told myself I didn't have to be present for her teaching in person.
I think it was Thursday when my daughter called to ask how I'd like to celebrate Mother's Day. I told her I'd get back to her. As I thought about Mother's Day, some nostalgia arose, as last year my mom was here. It would turn out to be her last visit. This Mother's Day, I wouldn't be able to tell her (in person) how much I love her and honor her.
A flash of inspiration! I'll ask my daughter if she'd like to go with me to hear my woman friend give the homily. We'll honor all courageous women who stretch the edges and "be in church together"-something my mom would deeply appreciate. She'd been a member of the Episcopal Daughter's of the King, a contemplative, lay order. And while she listened to my misgivings about christianity with patient understanding and always encouraged me to think for myself, she wanted "church" for me and me in church.
Saturday night I stayed up late and since my daughter had declined my invitation and would come out later to visit, I decided when I went to bed that I definitely wasn't going to church.
Sunday morning. Dawn. A Mockingbird outside my window began: "Get up. Get up. Get up. It's dawn. Hello! Hello! Wake up! Wake up!" Forever. I got up to pee. Decided again not to go to church. Laid back down to doze. The dog whined. He needed to go out. He did this three times. I'm up. I'm down. I'm up. I'm down. Finally, he went back to sleep and so did I.
Dream: I'm sitting on the beach waiting for Mom to come home from "church." I haven't been there even though I told her I might go. Here she comes over the horizon, flying a blimp/boat/balloon/plane. She lands it smoothly in the surf, steps out and stands in the waves with her hand on her hip. Shouts, "Well? Were you there?" When I say no, she gets back in the blimp/boat/balloon/plane saying, "I have errands to run." And flies off. As she does, an island forms underneath her and there is a little house on it. There is a carport and under it I see a cute little red truck parked. My uncle, Mom's brother is there too. He's raking the soil with a red rake.
I wake up. Think, I know I said I'd go to church, but I reaallly don't want to now. You understand, right? I go back to sleep. When the alarm on my phone which I've forgotten to disable rings and wakes me up for the hundredth time, I get up and make coffee. Decide I'd better go to church.
When I arrived, I walked the labyrinth there. My meditation: I am here in my feet. I am here in the bird song. I am here in my breath. I am here in the voices of these who cannot hear me praying. I am here in the worm crawling across my path. I am here in the flower's bloom. I am here in the turning. I am here in the path. I am here in the going in. I am here in the coming out." By the time I finished walking, I could enter the indoor sanctuary with ease and it was already time for the homily.
During the first moments of the homily, my friend played a U-TUBE clip of the ocean waves sounding. She spoke in gender inclusive language and metaphor. During the prayers of the people, we passed a bowl of "living water" around the circle of women standing at the altar saying, "I bless you. I honor you. I offer you the living water." Our voices like the goddess herself whispering in an eternal echo. Women wiped tears from their eyes as they received each other. When I handed the bowl to the woman next to me and spoke the blessing, I noticed. Her name was Beth.
Beth was my mother's name.
I still do not believe that churches or priests have any special power. But I do believe there is a Power. And it keeps waking me up in new ways day by day.