In the world out there it was Mother’s Day.
I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. Too much angst from infertility struggles and knowing men and women who have lost, lost, and lost, only to lose hope in the end, and then those mothers who have caused the kind of pain that should not come from anyone much less from one of the most important women in one’s life, and then those who’ve lost mothers. It’s too much.
In the walls of the brightly lit sanctuary it was Youth Sunday. Thank God.
A young man talked with the children about shepherds. He’s reading Psalm 23 and I’m wondering whether these babies sitting on the stairs understand dark valleys and the shadow of death. But he talks about sheep, and I see some of their eyes light up a little. There was a time not too long ago – literally – 6 months ago maybe that the twins would not refer to the animals by their actual names but by the way they sound.
Horses were “Neigh Neighs.” Cows were “Moo Moos.” Sheep were “Baa Baas.” My mind turns to how much they’ve changed in such little time, and how much we change how we see ourselves, name ourselves, but how the Good Shepherd doesn’t change much when it comes to knowing and calling his sheep. Knowing and loving, knowing and leading, knowing and waiting for his sheep.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Glory-Bound. A couple of 8th or maybe 9th graders (I can’t tell anymore), and a 6th or 7th grader sang the chorus of this song with guitars and mandolins, and a woman with Joan Baez vocals crooned the main vocals, and I am trying to hold it together and not weep into my maxi skirt. That’s the nearest thing to me that I could grab to cover my face and wipe my eyes and nose – I know, gross. I can’t see Rachel up there in the first pew but I’m imagining the loss, the grief, the semi-truck wreck of emotions that comes from an unexpected and sudden death of a loved one. She is so strong, how is she sitting up there and not falling apart? I hear these lyrics sung by these cherubs with such deep and honest feeling, and I wonder how they’re able to muster up that kind of emotion, and I remember that life isn’t as pretty and shiny as all that on the surface, and everyone is struggling or fighting some kind of battle, even these young ones know it.
When I hear that trumpet sound
I will lay my burdens down
I will lay them deep into the ground
Then I’ll know that I am glory bound
But they still sing hallelujah. Hallelujah as proclamation of the word, of hope and grace, and the light that still shines despite the seemingly impenetrable darkness in that valley, in that death-shadow. They sing hallelujah and it sings of an ancient faith that doesn’t know the bounds of age or generation or era or history, and one that knows what it means to cling to the hem of the robe of the Good Shepherd, one that knows what it means to be swept up into the arms of the Good Shepherd and cradled and held so tightly, and the hallelujahs wash over me like an answer to prayers, like an answer to my incoherent babbling and bleating, my wordless cries for help and comfort.