I really liked the Edwina Gately chapter of my Women Mystics reading tonight.
(You would really like it, Mommy. It's titled "Being Missionary Means Being on the Edges.")
Being Carried by God
Once when I was in the, I found a little chipmunk. It had been caught by two cats and they were playing with her, throwing her from one paw to the other. The little thing was flying through the air terrified. I ran in and rescued the chipmunk. She was shaking and nervous. I lifted her up and told her, "You'll be all right. I'll put you in a safe place." I carried her and as I walked with her, she bit me hard! I again tried to reassure her that she would be all right. She bit me again and this time drew blood. Everything in me wanted to say, "You stupid chipmunk!" I felt like hitting her but I took her to a safe place feeling extremely frustrated that I could not communicate with her that I was taking care of her and everything would be fine.
Afterward I asked myself how I felt and I realized I was so frustrated because I was unable to get my message across. Then I thought about God. Is it like this for God? Is god carrying us in the palm of his/her hand and are we biting all the way because we are not sure? is God covered in bites? Who is inflicting them? Surely we missionaries know that God carries us in the palm of the hand with the message of evangelical wholeness, "Tell my people not to be afraid. It's all right."
Surely, we are the ones that must understand that god will never leave the people if we are faithful. But we shiver and shake at the thought of how mission is going to be today. How can we face the kinds of problems we see prevalent in the First World? Our God says, "Don't be afraid! . . . Remember, I carry you in the palm of my hand."
The Escape of the Spirit
I will end with a story. Once upon a time we capture God and we put God in a box and we put a beautiful velvet curtain around the box. We placed candles and flowers around the box and we said to the poor and the dispossessed, "Come! Come and see what we have! Come and see God!" And they knelt before the God in the box.
One day, very long ago, the Spirit in the box turned the key from inside and she pushed it open. She looked around in the church and saw that there was nobody there! They had all gone. Not a soul was in the place. She said to herself, "I'm getting out!" The Spirit shot out of the box. She escaped and she has been sighted a few times since then. She was last seen with a bag lady in McDonald's.
The missionary task is to be alert; to look for where the Spirit escaped to; to ask, "Where did she go?" Then we say to the community, "Look, we think, maybe here; it could be there." At least we are on the journey; at least we are moving!