In kitchens, standing over steaming saucepans, following recipes
passed down by our grandmothers,
At the table, gathering the day’s news from children, guests,
lighting candles, feeding tidbits to the cats.
In operating theatres, administering with precision the deadly wounds that will heal,
In parliamentary communities and city councils,
trying to find another way of doing business.
wielding power that enables and includes,
In concert halls, at the rostrum, bringing all that unruly creativity
into one living, breathing music.
In classrooms, warming to our subject, encouraging the slow and
quick-witted learners, drawing out incipient wisdom.
In gardens, clearing weeds, making space for things to grow,
planning colours in their right times and seasons.
In bedrooms and at waterpools, learning over the women about to give
holding their sweating hands, looking into their eyes, saying
‘Yes! Now! Push!’
In our own voices – elegant, educated: rough, untamed; stuttering or eloquent;
in all the languages that God gives.
Or sometimes without voice, silently, through gestures;
the nod of the head, lifting of an arm, sway of our bodies,
the way we move around a space.
Sometimes with permission, mostly without.
Recognized for the priests that we are, mostly not.
Never alone; always in the company of sisters,
brothers, children, animals who call our gifts into being
and offer their own for the making of something
that includes everyone and yet is beyond us all.
Seated, standing, lying propped up in beds or couches,
from wheelchairs and walking frames.
proud of our bodies, bent with the burdens we’ve carried all these years
or youthful, resilient, reaching after what’s yet to come.
In shanty towns, under rickety roofs made out of tarpaulin.
and high rise council flats in the centre of sprawling cities.
In remote rural monasteries and out of the way retreat centres;
in hospitals, prisons and shopping centres.
factories, office blocks and parliamentary corridors;
in women’s refuges and hostels for the homeless.
old people’s homes and kids nurseries,
on death row and in the birthing wards:
every place where human lives jostle, mingle, struggle, despair, survive.
In the desert cave and the hermit’s hidden cleft,
where land and sky and the company of saints are the congregation.
This is how we do it:
not really thinking how we do it but doing it;
not naming it for what it is but sometimes, in flashes,
recognizing the nature of what it is we do:
the calling, the gathering, the creating of community,
the naming, the celebrating and lamenting of a people’s sorrows and joys.
the taking of what human hands have made.
offering it with thanksgiving and blessing.
the breaking, the fracturing of so many hopes and expectations.
to discover something unlooked for, new, beyond the brokenness:
the sharing of what has been given by others:
the discovering that, even out of little, hungers are fed,
hurts healed, wounds not taken away but transfigured –
the bearing, the manifesting of the body of God,
the carrying in our bodies of the marks of the risen One;
seeing the light reflected in each others’ eyes.
seeing Her beauty mirrored in each one’s softened face.
As I look for my next project (and there are so many from which to choose!), I reflect on the difficulty of presiding. I have a whole liturgical library of resources to draw from, but none of those resources is Thean. I don't have a Thean prayer book, a Thean lectionary, a Thean Psalter, a Thean Bible, or a Thean hymnal. I long to have resources I can use that I don't have to create on a weekly basis, and in which I'm not constantly crossing out masculine pronouns and names and writing in feminine ones.
Presiding in this new liturgical tradition is my calling, but Thea never implied that it would be easy. The project that stirs my heart most now is the creation of permanent resources for the Thean tradition.
I could do this the easy way and simply revise existing Christian and Jewish texts for my own purposes. I probably will do that with the New Testament--I'm still drawn to the Christian narrative. But to have a prayer book that covers the whole liturgical year, I will have to reimagine the liturgical year in my own words. It won't be easy. But again, Thea never implied that it would be.
I want to do this the right way. I want to be able to make Thean resources available to others--and that's not something I can do if I'm piggybacking off someone else's work. So I will, prayer by prayer, create new resources for Theanism. And, perhaps within the space of a few months, or a year, or a decade, I will have Thean books I can turn to when I preside over my house church liturgies.