I remember her eyes, pools of sorrow glistening in the shadow of headlights pulling away from the church. We stood on the sidewalk splitting acorns open under the weight of our pain. She asks me what we are going to do now that the church changed their mind.
I bend over; wrap my arms around the neighbor whose relatives laid footprints where we stand, every generation since the 1700’s. She says the history can’t hold her there any longer.
And I’m a nomad, a harlot of homes stretching across states of acorn ditches. I don’t know much about that history and I don’t have answers. But I have tea and consolation, so I extend my hand and pull up a fallen sheep with an invitation.
A few days later I lean my back into the wooden panels of a wall, join a hundred voices singing we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus. And she is there, all crown of wisdom, arms outstretched, voice lifted to the heavens in adoration with a smile through the chorus. And afterward, when I remind her about the tea, she says she has a car full of friends to take home and a full schedule, and could we talk about it later.
And I’m hand over mouth taken back by joy.
Acceptance, it’s the train pushing grace forward through the steam of futility.
I’ve stood on the bank of wishing things were different. Awakened to futility standing over my bed, arms outstretched ready to take me on a tour through every room in the house of my mind.
And he faithfully woos me back to acceptance and courage through the voices of friends and trees flaming change.
And I wonder, was Reinhold Niebuhr standing under a cascade of falling leaves when he wrote the serenity prayer?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Because the leaves don’t ask to change color, for courage to let go of the branch, it is what they are created to do. To change. Like the way we are made to worship Him. And be changed by it.
For six weeks, we’ll be exploring the question, “How do we walk out our faith in the midst of pain, suffering, disappointment, and loneliness,” with a book club discussion on Thursdays about Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. Join the conversation tomorrow in the comments and at Redemptions Beauty Book Club. Start here for more information.