A Prolonged Whisper

This reflection was written after a "remembering" exercise where participants were encouraged to remember and celebrate the gifts given them by the elders in their families . . .

She did not know that the way she stood would influence the way I stand. As I step back through my mind's eye, my brain skips through photograph after photograph of her short and strong frame, leaning contently on her children or grandchildren, both arms grasped tightly with affection around their chests or waists, her head gracing their shoulders in pride. It has been five years since my grandmother's death, and I feel the weight of her head on my shoulder today.

There is a force that dwells beyond our ability to know each other and wraps us in an unspeakable knowledge. In the past eight years, I've become quite good at rationalizing my attempts to understand it by assuming I could access it through writing or trying to repackage it apart from emotion. In my more honest moments, I am surrounded by a powerful urge that rises up within me and wells over when I least expect it, and I suspect it comes from my grandparents.

I am a steward of my calling, a frighteningly abundant gift that demands participation or apathy. The difficulty lies in taking a prolonged whisper and finding harmonizing chords to give it voice, and even then I hear the shimmering irresolution of dissonant chords resounding in the distance, like the disarray of an empty playground, its barren swings gliding through the breeze. If I take this whisper as the whole conversation of God, how can I be a good steward of God's calling to me?

My parents and grandparents stood with weary limbs, their arms ever giving what I needed for growth. Their strength renamed in the storms of chaos and frenzy. My generation now has the choice of isolating our existence from the trials and worn victories of our families. Some tread lightly away, while others change direction altogether. I choose to think that I am dancing in the shadow between idea and reality.

If I have genuinely lost the ability to experience the enfleshed revelation of my family, perhaps it is because I have become so satiated with my half-life that I forget the glory of the flower, the potential of existence, the glory of God to me -- to us -- in bread and wine.

How can I get the church to understand?

Adrienne Trevathan is a descendant of the Port Gamble S'Klallam tribe. She graduated with an M. Div. in May 2009 and is working on a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is a certified deacon candidate.

Copyright 2009 © Adrienne Trevathan. Used by Permission. Reproduction granted for use in church worship services. Any further use beyond worship services must be with permission from the author.

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