I gave birth to my son via C-section. It was not how the script was supposed to go, but I was an older first-time mother and a natural birth was not in my destiny. When the nurse laid my baby on my breast, I was so numb from the epidural that I couldn’t feel his body. Somehow, that stayed with me as a wound of some kind. I felt I had failed in some way. I told someone about it a few months later, and she said “Well, he could feel you.” The truth of this washed over me. In my wounded narrative, I had it backwards. The really important thing about my initial encounter with my baby had been accomplished.
My beloved pastor gave a sermon a few weeks ago with the theme “Just show up.” Even if you are too heartbroken to pray, even if you dare not open your mouth to sing for fear only a croak will come out, just show up. Someone will do your praying for you. Someone else will sing. And who knows? Maybe you will have made yourself available for someone else to draw nourishment from.
The seeds of the Spirit often sprout without intentional watering.
We are reliant creatures, and interwoven in a complex pattern that is not always accessible to our “I”-centric perception.
Why is this lesson so hard for me to master? I’m beginning to suspect it is because my default sentences have “I” as their subject. All of our intentional language about being interconnected is perhaps a bit dogmatic. The truth is more mysterious. Is there a type of language that would make this worldview more plausible? Perhaps all those grammar teachers who drilled it into me to use the active voice missed this one point. Others are touched by us in ways we cannot access. Even as I type this my Microsoft Word program inserts a green line under my use of the passive voice to warn me to do better. Once again technology tries to herd me, shape me, narrow my options. For once I am not going to heed this techno-warning. How can we learn to “see” all the ways that others draw nourishment from us?
One reason this pastor is so beloved is that he is very good at making himself available to the Lord to be used for His purposes of providing nourishment to others. The Wesleyan Covenant prayer says, “Use me, Lord.” Yet I tend to interpret this as “Make me a conscious instrument of Your will,” rather than “I trust that through me others may draw nourishment.” Just show up. That day in the hospital was a great day, but I was very tired after the ordeal of the surgery. Yet every fiber in me longed to meet my baby and be there for him. I had spent nine months falling in love with him. What would it look like to fall in love with others in this world enough to just show up for them?
When the woman in Scripture stretched out her hand to touch Jesus’ robe from behind, he felt it. He turned around and said “Who touched me?” That’s Jesus. He always feels it when someone draws nourishment from Him. In our frailty, we do not. But that gives me a prayer: Draw me, dear Jesus, more into that place where those perceptions are available to me. Give me more of that resurrection power that flows from You into all of us. Put me in touch with this nourishing world. The sources of infinite power are all around us. Every once in a while I get a glimmer of this profound truth. Every once in a while, I touch the robe with the tip of my finger.
Claudia Hauer teaches at the college level, and loves watching young people turning into adults. She had an overwhelming conversion experience 5 years ago and is just learning to tell her faith story. She lives under the Rocky Mountains and loves to hike, run, and cook, and can usually be found with a book in her hands and a cup of coffee nearby.
“What would it look like to fall in love with others in this world enough to just show up for them?” I love this – so simple and yet so profound. Thank you for sharing this beautifully written piece.
“Just show up” is how I think of prayer–my part is to show up and the rest is God’s. What a great gift your friend gave to you to reframe your lack of feeling your baby to the fullness of your baby feeling you.