Tears. More tears. Insane laughter accompanied by some occasional inappropriate giggling. Multiple conversations going on simultaneously. Loud voices. Soft voices. Hugs. Advice. Prayer. Comfort. Encouragement. Wisdom. Guidance. The women in my Ish Girls Bible Study have been together two years now. The eight of us are almost getting like a good pair of houseshoes, broken in and entirely comfortable. There is very little pretense. Out of the starting gate it seems as though we have been dealing with some very heavy stuff. Hurting lives. Needs so big that we have all cried. In some ways over the course of two years, it has not let up. Each of us has taken a turn on the "prayer chair" to be prayed over and for by the others. It is humbling. It is necessary. It is good.
Today was our Easter celebration. We ate brunch together. I was proud of myself that instead of feeling compelled to drag out the china, silver and crystal like a good Southern hostess, I pulled out paper placements, paper plates, and plastic tumblers. My mother and grandmother would croak. I also did not slave in the kitchen for hours preparing everything from scratch. I bought the quiches at the Puffy Muffin, I bought the fruit at Publix, and I bought the lemon blueberry bread at The Flour Shop. I cut up the fruit into smaller pieces, added some bananas and blueberries and lined the bowl with red leaf lettuce. I sliced the quiches that were hot (at my request) when I picked them up this morning. I sliced the bread and then pulled my one contribution out of the oven, my garlic cheese grits. I used a different brand of grits, and of course, they were slightly runny. Oh, and I also made the coffee. It was the easiest and best brunch I have had in a long time. I was not exhausted. Only emotional -- which is a fairly typical state for me these days.
However, the best part of the brunch was what came afterward. The eight of us, still gathered at the table, shared Communion. This may not be theologically correct according to some denominations, but I only see in Scripture where we are encouraged to do this in remembrance of Him and so we did. It was almost unbearably tender watching each woman take the bread and the cup and offer them to the sister beside her in the name of Christ. I found myself treasuring what it means to be a woman. To be able to cry when you need to cry (and sometimes when you don't), to rejoice when you need to rejoice, and to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. And what is that law? To love. And then to love some more. As one of the Ish Girls' five-year-old son understood when asked what sent Christ to the cross and what kept Him there, the little boy softly whispered one word, "Love." Yes, Caleb, it was and is love. And is not love the greatest gift and the greatest commandment He has given us, yet is the one commandment that He allows us to keep because He has already fulfilled it, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He, who calls himself love, has given us the gift of himself to be poured out upon others even as it is poured out upon us.
What could be a more perfect way to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ this season than to lavish God's love upon someone who so desperately needs it? I am always hungry for more of His love, aren't you? I challenge you to listen for the Holy Spirit's prompting and then to weep, to laugh, to rejoice, and to share God's precious gift of love with someone who needs as much as I once did the gift of Easter in their heart for the rest of their life.