Dave and I just returned from the Inhabit Conference put on by the Parish Collective and the Seattle School of Theology. This was our fourth year at the conference, and each year it has been marked by some major life transition for us.

 2012 was the year of pregnancy, and the year that Dave and I were inspired to dream in new ways about our vision for our growing family. In 2013 we brought 6-month-old Everett along, and I played with him in the back of the conference, entering into the conversation from the periphery. In 2014 we were in the middle of the hiring process with Open Door, and we met Dave’s current co-pastor for the first time. We wondered together what the future would hold. And this year – 2015 – was the year of writing. Completely unexpectedly, opportunities came for conversations with all kinds of people who know a whole lot more about writing and publishing a book than I do. I do not know where all of this will lead, but I am humbled, thrilled, and a little bit terrified. Fear and excitement are often two sides of the same coin.

In the last session I attended, we spent a few minutes in silence before God. An image came to me. I will spend weeks (or months) peeling back its layers of meaning. For now, I offer it to you in the form of a poem.

Whatever you have, may you find the courage and the means to give it away.

The Gift

I stand at the edge and wait, leaning against the railing to breathe in the salt air, and the sun shines down.

I feel a tingling in my palms and I look around – I am not alone. You are there, you are all there – beside, behind, and with me. Slowly, you begin to smile, then to nod, and so I open my hands. I hold them out above the sea, fingers splayed out like starfish, and the tingling grows. It kindles to a burning and something moves under my skin. It hurts – but not too much to bear – and you are with me, nodding.

This is the year of consent, this the very moment, perhaps, and so I wait with you behind, beside.

I hold palms to sky and then my hands break open in a rush of white. I hear the rustle of feathers on the wind as one after another they are loosed from this flesh-container to fly out across the sea. Their flapping moves the air around my face; I feel them moving. They flutter out, one by one, beyond my reach. I watch them disappear over glistening waters.

I am spent.

You are with me, behind me, beside me, and we clasp hands. We lean against the railing to watch a while the ruffle of wind on shining sea.