Often I think of my work – this work of ministry – as the work of holding. Holding space to make room for varying voices and experiences. Holding others’ grief, anxiety, excitement, doubt, fear, celebration. Holding a steady center as conflict swirls about. Holding multiple perspectives all at once. Holding, in mind and heart, one who is ailing or dying.
It’s mostly metaphor, but sometimes not – sometimes I literally hold on with hands and arms. A loving embrace as someone weeps. A firm grip as I ring the worship bell or hold a sign at a vigil. A hand held in prayer or solidarity. A rose held gently as it is dipped in water to bless a new one among us.
Holding it all. Holding one another.
It’s not the work only of us Ministers. It’s the shared ministry of us all – people of faith, religious community, those who profess to follow the call of Love and to care for one another.
As this between-Sundays reflection percolated in me, the poem “That Which Holds All” came to mind. It’s a favorite poem about prayer, published in Nancy Shaffer’s collection Instructions in Joy.
And then I laughed at myself.
In the poem, That Which Holds All is one of the names offered for the Holy. For God.
Ha! As if my experience of holding could even compare to That Which Holds All.
And yet, I do believe that our hands are the closest we get to God’s hands – that the Holy is expressed through our reaching out, touching, holding, loving one another.
Perhaps, together, we are That Which Holds All.
Yours in community and love,