She stood in the water behind the extension of her heart, gratitude overflowing. Gratitude for the tiny person who made a very grown-up decision for faith and for Jesus and for telling everyone. Gratitude for the pastor who loved and prayed for and taught her daughter what a woman following Jesus looks like, that woman who would lower her daughter down to the grave and back out again into new life.
And then it was her turn to step forward, wipe away tears, claim faith in a living savior, and preach a whole sermon with few words: “And then I realized I don’t need to earn God’s approval, I already have it.” Her sweet friend and mentor lowered her into the water and back up to shouts of rejoicing.
I was there on the other side of the water. I was there because this woman is my friend, and her daughter is a friend of my daughters. I was there because baptism is holy and sacred and I wanted to be there to rejoice and stand with her. I was there because I could offer a small gift, with camera in hand, to capture this moment of history. There were a million other places I could have been, but I was there.
I am learning that being there, that holding space, is a small but powerful gift. And sometimes it is the only gift we have to give.
Last Thursday I had a most delightful and unexpected day. It started with a chance encounter in a coffee shop with a woman from my yoga class, and getting to know just a fraction about her life and story and calling encouraged me deeply. Then a stop by the thrift store yielded not one, but two incredible finds. For those of you who enjoy a good thrift store treasure hunt, you know the high I was on checking out and driving away. Waiting for a friend to arrive for our lunch date, I spotted another friend and got a quick hello. Then while dining with that friend, Rachel and Leyla came into the restaurant with another woman, so we all pushed tables together and sat and chatted. Miss Leyla wasn’t feeling too hot so she sat on my lap and cuddled for a good 45 minutes, every so often looking up and asking me where Daisy and Dani or their dad was. Oh, be still my heart. Later that night my family had an impromptu outing to a local volleyball match that was filled with just a genuine sense of fun.
My Thursday was so incredibly good and serendipitous that as I was driving Friday morning I literally thought to myself, I wonder what is coming? And sure enough by mid-day I had received some news from a woman who I love and with whom I have a deep connection. The news shook my world a bit and had me in a panic worrying for her. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to react, and there I was in a public coffee shop trying not to make a fool out of myself as I read the news on my computer screen. I wanted desperately to be there for her, to drop everything and just go. But she told me to stay.
Luckily for me Friday’s plans included an appointment for a massage.
I have so many amazing women in my life, but there is one in particular I wish you all had. She has a massage ministry out of her home, a massage ministry, and it is free. While she is pushing out those knots and encouraging me to relax, she is praying and singing and holding space. She sings words of truth over me, and cries out to God on my behalf, while her touches keep me present and in the moment. Last Friday when she finished up she told me God wanted me to give over the burden I was carrying. The dear one I was worrying for; the woman who has made a decision and is grieving the weight of it all. “That is not your burden to bear,” I was told. “God wants you to know that He has her and He is in the midst of it with her.”
Today while I lifted the camera to my eye to capture the scene of surrender in front of me, there was a surrender happening inside of me too. I am holding space, but I am not holding the burden. I will come running when she calls, I will hold her hand and wipe her tears and just be without words and without judgement. But she may never call, may never need me to run, and that is OK too. So here I sit with a candle burning and music playing and prayers unspoken…and this space. This space for her.
It is all I have tonight. But it is enough.