Held and Holding: River Deep, Or Mountain High.
One of the things I have been doing a lot of lately as your Minister is listening to your stories of the strange and sometimes painful curves that are coming along during the well thought out trajectories of your journey. The anniversary of one of those journey curves is also coming up for my family this week. June 17 is the 1st year anniversary of Stan’s death, and as many of you know, I spent much of last June on bereavement leave, wondering if Christy had breast cancer since she had been “red flagged” during a mammogram, and walking with her through a massive career disappointment that affected all of us. As I remember that time, and as I have listened to your stories in recent days, I draw strength in knowing that no matter what wild, murky, painful, grace filled, darkness and fog our journey takes us into, God is with us and never leaves us. God will be our pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night- no matter what curves come our way. (Exodus 13: 21-22)
This Saturday is also my 55th birthday, And as I breathe deep and celebrate that as my anniversary grief comes up, I find myself thinking about my son’s first birthday and the life changing journey that was the first few hours of his life. God held us through that messy, terrifying, light/dark place- Just as God held us through Stan’s funeral last June, is holding us as we move into new things as Beloved Community and is holding all of you as you share your challenging stories with me. God holds all of us. That is the euangelion (Gk), or “Good News” we share, no matter what the terrain looks like where we are walking: River Deep, Or Mountain High.
So here is the Birthday story that is coming up for me this morning. It concerns another important “birthday” in my life- The day I became Mommy.
6 years ago. During the 1st hour. I looked over the curtain in the surgery suite that felt like being in a spaceship on the moon and saw them lift you up out of Mama's belly. You were covered with blood, and goo. And then you started wailing. They put you on the scale and let me cut your umbilical cord. It was tougher than I expected. They told us you were huge- like 15lbs. Wrong. The scale says 8.8. We held you. Joyful tears.
Then there was this weird change in tone in the room. Scurrying around, talking fast. Grabbing something off the wall. "Bleeding.... Suction." Then hands on my arm. "You have to go."
I whisper screamed, "Christy... Oh Hell No!" And she looked over at us, smiled weakly, and said, "You're both beautiful" and then she lost consciousness on the table shaped like a cross. And they pushed us out.
The hall was bright. I could see the blurry outline of Marlene Coffman Newton at the end through my tears. Here she comes. She's good. She is your Gran.
This wasn't in the birth plan. I'm trembling. Why is the floor uneven in this state-of-the-art medical facility? I'm 48 years old. On the front end of menopause. I feel like I'm going to puke. Why are we standing between life and death? Here. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
And yet here we are. I feel us safe in God’s arms. I feel you in my arms. Wiggling. Looking for my breast. She'll be back in a minute... Just hang on... She'll be back... And then I hear Ursula’s voice. Gran's voice. Women's voices. I hear the words "hemorrhage" and "emergency surgery." And suddenly there is the chair underneath me, and ice water, and a cold towel on my neck. And the floor is more even under my feet. Gran is cooing at you over my shoulder. She will want to hold you soon. You are looking up at us. Eyes wide. I am holding you. We are all held.
"Hi there! I'm the one that's been reading and singing to you. 'Do I love you, my oh my... River deep mountain high. Yeah. yeah. yeah!'" Your eyes get wider as you hear my voice. Is that a smile? (The nurse tells me you are too little to smile). But I see it. You know my voice. "Oh, how I love you baby. baby. Baby! BABY!"
Welcome to embodiment my little man. Happy Birthday! And no matter what happens. I've got you. God’s got us. I love you. Oh, how I love you. You are my son. You are my baby. We are God’s children. And I am your Mommy. Up or Down. Rough or Smooth. Dark or Light. River Deep, Or Mountain High.
Embodiment is joyous, teary eyed, messy business isn’t it? No matter where you are on the journey- in life, death, new life, or somewhere in between, may you feel held, and pass on the holding. I love you, United Church of Hayward, UCC, and as you hold me and I hold you back- I am deeply Blessed to serve as your Minister- River Deep, Or Mountain High. – Rev. Jeanne