Recently I spent two days at an Anabaptist Women Doing Theology Conference called “All you need is love: Honoring the Diversity of Women’s Voices in Theology.”
This was no “sloppy agape” as Melinda Berry put it. This was a time for us to reflect on what it means to love in the midst of a world rife with struggle and oppression. This meant facing the truth that even as sisters in Christ there are still many things that divide us, even us.
Several times during the weekend it felt as though we were gathering near a well, drinking deeply of Live-giving water- of Love Herself. So you can imagine my surprise when I came home to find this wood-carved piece by John Gaeddert, a man who knows something about drinking from a deeper well. In fact, in his retirement he says he uses his wood sculptures “to express simplicity, gentleness, growth and relationship themes.”
Seminars and papers were presented on a whole range of lived experience: From food, to empty wombs, to sexual abuse, to adoption, to climate change, to forgiveness, to disability, to mental health, to technology, to mothering, to self-love, to adventures in mascara. Biblical stories and characters were looked at, often in surprising ways: The Good Samaritan story (or as the speaker put it, the Good Enough Samaritan), Esther, Sophia, and Rizpah. And then there were times for yoga, guided meditations, poetry, dance (I opted out of this one), singing, and seeing beautiful photographs displayed. Oh, and yes, I did find time to do a little bit of Olympic-watching. In fact, on of my Canadian friends pulled me aside on Friday at noon, just when the hockey game was about to begin, and said, “Ruth, we’re going to have to sit near a power source for this session.” This picture says it all:
Here are some questions that I continue to think about in my own search for Love: Am I a slactivist? Do I take short-cuts in my activism? What might it mean for me to build my activist muscles? Likewise, what does it mean for us, of all genders, to be repairers of the breach?
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. -Isaiah 58:9-12
Thank God for conferences, for people, for visions that inspire strong bodies, fertile gardens and Love that never dies.