One day last year I happened upon an article espousing the benefits of squatting like a cavewoman: better pelvic floor health and stronger muscles for standing up, among others. Naturally, I threw myself into a squatting routine with gusto, though like most people who did not maintain the ability to squat after childhood, I couldn’t get my heels anywhere near the ground.
I had lofty dreams of a squatting room in my house where I could eat, read, or work on my laptop. But muscles can’t be lengthened and flexibility can’t be achieved overnight. I gave up once or twice until I settled into a routine of brushing my teeth in a supported squat, with my heels on a door threshold. I stopped expecting to be able to achieve a perfect squat because that seemed beyond my body’s capabilities, but I enjoyed the modified stretch.
And so it was with great surprise recently that I tried a squat on a flat surface and down I went, a bit tight in the hips and more hunched over than I’d like, but able to achieve the position somewhat comfortably. It came upon me slowly, this muscle lengthening and tendon loosening, easing into a position long forgotten.
So too my comfort in and desire for GPPC came upon me slowly. After a lengthy absence from regular church attendance, I was struck one day about five years ago with an itch to try out the PC(USA) church I had read about where gay weddings were performed and all people were welcome. Having small children and wanting them to be raised in church will sometimes do this to you.
But rearranging our lives to free up Sunday mornings seemed like a tall order. Being involved in anything beyond worship hour seemed entirely too much. And so we came and went in fits and starts, and the years passed.
The joy and peace of being part of God’s community crept into my heart gradually. As our country seems more and more divided and imperiled by forces that are everything our church does not stand for, I yearn to commit to something and see it through, to be of use in this community that gives so much. And so when I was asked to join the Session, I felt excited and honored.
As an English major and one-time English teacher, I turn to poetry for inspiration. Marge Piercy, who writes often of her Jewish faith, perfectly expresses my feelings about GPPC in her poem “To Be of Use.”
…I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out….
Changing my daily routines, practicing things that are hard but healthy and healing, allowing room for change and new commitments … these are the desires of my heart. As Piercy concludes her poem, “The pitcher cries for water to carry / And a person for work that is real.” I trust that as I open myself to new possibilities and say yes to new opportunities, God will provide the strengthening and deepening I need to do work that is real.