I used to want to be not me.
Various other lives looked appealing at different times,
but on Sundays,
I always wanted to be my pastor.
I wanted to be just like her.
I wanted the fancy robe,
the adoration and respect I saw coming from everyone’s eyes.
I wanted the hands that could bless bread, make it more than it was.
I wanted to be her.
I definitely didn’t want to be me.
Stuff catches up with a person.
Even a fairly self-aware person who has been trying.
Who has been working on it.
You can’t just will things to be different.
They are what they are.
Your scars are whatever your scars are.
And you can work with what you have,
or you can pretend.
Those are the choices.
I didn’t like what I had.
I liked what it looked like she had.
And I wanted that.
I have always been told that God made me.
I suspected for a long time that that could only be partially true.
Because what God makes is good – the Bible tells me so –
and the suffering, desperate parts of me have never seemed good.
They have felt desolate, in need, almost frantic.
I would never have labeled them good.
And the behavior they have driven could not be called good, either.
I have plenty to not be proud of.
There has been a lot of interior talk lately.
A lot of listening.
I am pretty sure every part of me has had a chance to speak, at least a little.
The circle slowly gets bigger because I am making everyone welcome.
And when one girl tries to let go and sink down into a ball on the ground,
the others go partially down, too,
until they can help her back up,
because they won’t let go anymore,
so we are now all in this together.
Most of the eyes looking out of the faces
are warm with compassion.
The disdainful eyes, the scared eyes, the desperate eyes
are all still part of the circle,
but they are closed, waiting for blessing, waiting for healing.
No one leaves – no one wants to.
We are now all in this together.
I wanted to be my pastor.
And without question the thing I wanted most was to give the bread.
To give the blessing.
To be so blessed myself as to have plenty to spare,
plenty to give away.
To grasp the holy, look into the eyes of other people,
press a piece of God into the palms of their hands
and tell them the truth:
that God made them, that they are good.
The girls in my interior circle
are teaching me something.
They are teaching me
that no one owns the bread.
The bread is given.
And the only way to have more
is to give more away.
What is in my hands these days?
My phone, the dishes, the laundry, my steering wheel.
Roughly in that order, I’d say.
But also, sometimes . . .
Words, ladled up from somewhere,
poured cascading out,
stirred, ladled up, poured again.
that is mine to share with other people
are the words
that pour out,
come flooding out,
as soon as they have the opportunity.
This is what I have been given.
This is the bread that my hands hold.
This is what I have to give away.
Not dressed in a robe.
Not standing in a chancel.
But in brief moments
in my little closet-office.
All the girls and I hold hands,
and everyone gets a chance to be heard.
This is my manna,
written for you.