Battered and scarred and scared, I began a Lilly endowment program entitled “Women Touched by Grace”. The advertisement promised learning and the carrot of travel to Rome. I applied to the program through the nudging of the Holy. The dwindling capacity of my God-kissed heart to know its own washing in grace was real. The logo of the program: two women’s fingers reaching toward each other, ala the Sistine Chapel’s depiction of God reaching out life to Adam, was foreshadowing of the life I would receive. Life. Reached out to me. Through the Christ alive in women touched by grace.
The strange of worship soaked in silence. The odd of raising voices in the sort of chant that frowns on the trumpet of any one but rather pursues the communal weave of all. The sharing of conviction that thoughts, those convictions of my own badness and inadequacies that thronged my sensibilities and created trudge in my soul; those thoughts are in fact affront to the Holy and impediment to grace. The sharing of community with shining and human monastic women who chose as vocation worship and prayer. The telling of hurts and the holding of love and the safety of being known and the wonder of being unwrapped and bathed and held and claimed by the very God who brought me to the waters of this life.
John Wesley preached long and fiercely before his heart was “strangely warmed”. He didn’t come to know Christ as a loving grace-gift in his being until he was able to observe the faith grounding of another people – Moravians, in his case.
For me, a woman who has preached and believed and loved and grounded her life in the gospel provocation and gift of Christ Jesus, it was a group of women who reached out their fingers and hands and heart in the touch that has given me soul life.
I am whole. I believe the good news. I believe it not only for those with whom I share sermon and pastoring life. I believe it is so for me.
I unwrapped that gift in the community of saints both Protestant and Catholic at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove Indiana.
And my heart. My strangely warmed, unpacked, thirsty, and so profoundly grateful heart, will live its rebirth forever more.