The mountaintops of Pennsylvania are gorgeous but they don’t compare to the grace that is spoken into our valleys.
We circle chairs close for late night talks: women trying to live out callings to speak and write and minister.
We struggle with words on our blogs and pages of our books.
But we don’t struggle here.
Here we spill over. Here we get real about our real messes.
Here we unpack our bags.
Here we breathe deeply and linger over coffee.
We raise our hands and close our eyes and really hear the music.
We shed some tears when the words of the speaker touch a place of “me too” in our souls.
We all have a history. And we are all equal at the foot of the cross.
A bit of reflection as I take the road home.
I think about the women who shared their broken stories so honestly on that mountain in Pennsylvania.
They each remind me of a modern-day Mary Magdalene~reclaimed Mary who follows Jesus, even after his death.
The Mary who heads straight to the tomb when all hope seems lost.
The Mary who realizes he is no longer laying there goes searching.
“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” Mark 16:9
Maybe I love the story of Mary Magdalene because God chooses a woman to send first.
But not just any woman, a very broken woman.
A woman who had been healed of what haunted her seven times over.
I’m thinking this was not an accident.
Maybe when Jesus told her to go He knew she would be His great messenger.
I can’t stop thinking about her.
Mary gives me hope just like the roses that bloom outside my kitchen window, greeting me upon my return to the familiar.
I arrive home feeling a bit lonely and sitting there in my kitchen I look up what Jesus says to Mary.
Here is basically how it goes in John 20:15: Jesus’ first set of words on the other side of the grave:
1. Why are you crying?
2. It’s me.
3. Don’t stay here. Go tell the others.
How powerful. On resurrection day Jesus says “don’t cling to me”.
He commissions her. A broken woman who has been healed and can tell a story.
Maybe that’s how it feels after leaving the retreat.
Like a commissioning.
Maybe in some crazy way I was chosen.
And you were too.
You at your kitchen table, in the pulpit, in a 3rd world country, in the middle of a mess, in the big city, in your little town, in whatever crazy situation you find yourself.
Maybe Mary and mountains teach us that more than anything else Jesus needs girls with scars that He healed to tell His story.
I lift a prayer quietly at my kitchen table for the women who scattered from that place there in the Northern woods.
We are each making our way back home and I pray that we find a million little ways to tell our stories in the everyday. I pray that we make our mark by doing cartwheels and shouting praise that scares the enemy. I pray that some of us spill words onto paper and some of us speak truth into the hearts of our children.
I pray that we see ourselves as God sees us: chosen, beloved, healed, redeemed,commissioned.
And as I close my prayer I smile wide.
Because I’m pretty sure God is grinning when he sees our selfies from our weekend on the mountain.
I’m quite certain He beams with all of us huddled there together seeing the best in ourselves. Seeing the best in each other.