One Sunday morning when my daughter was a toddler, she was intent on being near me during worship and no one could talk her out of it. She spent much of the service in my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck and playing with my hair. She didn’t care that I needed to give my attention to the liturgy. In the moment, I decided that the path of least disruption was to let her sit with me behind the altar. It felt like I was getting away with something.
After worship, a woman approached me, tears in her eyes, and said, “I couldn’t stop crying throughout the whole worship service. I don’t know why. But something about seeing you up front with your daughter undid me.” I figured I might get some push back about my daughter’s irreverent behavior; I didn’t expect it would be a healing experience for a parishioner.
I used to cringe at the idea that clergy are representatives of God. I didn’t understand how powerful it was for women in the congregation to see themselves in me as I held my daughter. I didn’t realize how transformative it was for me to know—even in my role as a mother—I’m made in the image of God.
This post is part of the book launch blog tour for Embodied: Clergy Women and the Solidarity of a Mothering God. Embodied includes reflection questions at the end of each chapter, to instigate conversations that lead to support and new perspectives. The book is available this September from Bookshop.org, Amazon, or Cokesbury.