The Sacrament of Mothering {and Worship}

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{by Kelli Woodford}

It’s Sunday morning and we do not find ourselves filling a pew.  Instead, I am home alone with the mighty seven.  For once, not locking myself in the bathroom to find a moment of peace and quiet, but internally hushed with open eyes in the trenches.  And finding church in all places unexpected.

Motherhood is sacred, holds vestiges of the venerable, no matter which door one darkens on Sunday.

My southern baptist roots don’t prevent me from experiencing the blessedness of christening by toddler saliva as he sneezes in time with me zipping his pants after a successful bathroom trip.  Wet face is only a physical expression of the deep reverence of such a task.

The tiny toes, attached to ball-shaped feet, at the end of chubby legs that circle my waist, remind me of rosary beads.  Each sweet, tiny nub, a prayer ascending as I trace them with gilded finger.  Each whispered request as laced with thanksgiving as it is with lint.  Relishing the chance for our hearts to beat, as they are, one on top of the other.

And miracles?  Yes, they happen, too, in a place as hallowed as the kitchen.  Because there’s nothing in the wide expanse of cupboards and the cold frontier of refrigerator that sounds as good to her as peanut butter toast.  And all I can summon for the sacramental spread is the crusty bit left around the edges of the jar.  Yet somehow in the knife’s rhythmic scratching, I am unwitting player in the reenactment of loaves broken, multiplied on the tongues of the needy.  I scrape out the last bit and it covers a host of bare bread’s exposed transgression.  Love, like this covering of peanut butter, that always stretches to conceal.

On my head, reminiscent of the veils worn by sisters of Mennonite persuasion, is a baseball cap.  A covering of grace for hair still damp and unstyled — part of mama’s standard uniform.  I don’t need its permission to pray, perhaps, but the brim acts as a stark limitation of my vision, an emblem of my nearsightedness, providing an impious reminder of the humanity by which I am still bound.  And peeking out from the hump of a brim, lines stare back at me in the mirror, these not made of ash, but of skin, wrinkled and aging.  Depending on the movement of my brows, they are now horizontal, now vertical.  A poignant representation, all the same, of “dust to dust.”

The only sermons and songs we know in this parish are from the lips of Bob and Larry, common veggies who carry more than chlorophyll and lycopene.  Somehow, sitting cross-legged on the floor with the baby resting against my chest, I hum quiet liturgy with the familiar tunes and anticipate more than entertainment.  Pentecostal fire, it burns within.  I hear not three points and a poem or a 20-minute guilt trip, but the Divine whisper, more of a deep stillness than a speaking, more like contentment than striving.  And I think they sense it, too.  Because we look in each other’s eyes and we laugh and we relive and repeat what we like.  We’ve experienced this together.  So this is communion at the cup of the free.

This is the church of holy tickles and manna new with every piece of gum that tucks itself into the tread of my sneaker.

And these are the wild moments of my deeply symbolic life.

Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord . . . as He shows up in the common grace of unexpected places.

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kelli bio picKelli Woodford has always had a quirky penchant for collecting quotes. The words she feels at home in most, though, are from Mr. Mark Twain himself, “One must travel to learn.” While she hasn’t hung her hat in every one of the fifty states or abroad, she has been known to travel compulsively in the world of ideas. Kelli considers curiosity a serious expedition and is rarely satisfied with anything remotely status quo. She collects friendships with people as different as they can be and feels all the richer for it, but never experiences “home” so much as when she is with her best friend – who also happens to be her husband. They make their abode in Love, but also in the Midwest with their seven blue-eyed children. Kelli engages us with her writing as part of the writer’s team. You can follow Kelli on her personal blog, or on facebook and twitter.

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FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY

This week’s book give away goes to Lori from “Lori’s Prayer Closest”! We can’t wait to send you “Undaunted” by Christine Cain. (The number was randomly picked with http://www.random.org/.)

Now we’re off to the next book. Yay!

Revolution, ‘though released in 2005, is still relevant to anyone who’s interested in understanding what is happening outside traditional Church. A renowned statistician who’s findings are documented here is described as: “Committed, born-again Christians are exiting the established church in massive numbers. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the church? Drawing upon extensive data, renowned researcher and author George Barna predicts how this revolution will affect the organized church, how Christ’s body of believers should react, and how individuals who are considering leaving (or those who have already left) can respond. For leaders working for positive change in the church and for believers struggling to find a spiritual community and worship experience that resonates . . . get ready, because a Revolution is here.” ~~Amazon

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Under Construction. We are giving the linkup a makeover. One of the changes we’re hoping to make will include seeing your faces on THIS page. In April, we will re-open it to correspond with a couple of guest writers who’ll be here. See ya then.

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21 Comments on “The Sacrament of Mothering {and Worship}

  1. {Sigh…} You *know*you how much I love this. Oh my yes. Those tiny chubby toes– rosary beads? Yes. It is a wonder we can walk without cracking our shins on altars, huh? I love you. Great job.

  2. Some of your most inspired writing seems to come from the holy worship of motherhood!
    “Wild moments” that deserve to be cherished and re-visited in either photos or blog space. I love how you love those young ones!!

  3. Beautiful symbolism. I love how to God the ordinary is sacred and the sacred is ordinary. He is in everything, and nothing is too minute or too big for Him. I love how you illuminate our eyes to SEE His presence in our daily walk with our children. My favorite is how the peanut butter is like the love that covers a multitude of sins. Love that.

    • It is beautiful symbolism, Paula. You’re exactly right about that. Made of the simplest stuff of our lives … not so different from bread and wine, yes?

      Thanks for your kind words. I cherish them.

  4. Such a beautiful & touching post. I will never be able to spread peanut butter in quite the same way without thinking of His love covering a multitude of sins – mine. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Just beautiful!

  5. This is holy worship. As a mama, thank you, Kelli. These words captured me: “communion at the cup of the free.” That it would be so for all of us who are united with Christ. Blessings, friend.

  6. Sigh.. I just want to be one of those infants you hug close and raise with such love and devotion. Such was never my lot and my tiny infant self still mourns the lack of a truly nurturing mother who wanted me to be around. What a mamma you are to them, Kelli, and what great depth of insight you glean as breadcrumbs, peanut butter and grace invade this sacred space! Beautiful to behold. Love it! 🙂 x

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