TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE IN GOD’S PRESENCE as you begin.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
“I love you baber” by Rev. Sara Wilhelm Garbers
Today is International Women’s Day, which occurs during Women’s History Month. As a part of celebrating women this month, my spouse Andy is giving me an envelope every day with a picture of a woman along with some quotes from her and a by-line detailing her work in the world. So far its included women such as:
Some of the women I know well; others are new to me. The remembrance of these women and their labors of love has been a rich gift for me in the past few days.
And then we came to today: International Women’s Day. Andy asked me to be sure that he was around when I opened it. So as I lay in bed this morning, I asked him to get me the envelope and join me on the edge of the bed as I discovered which story was inside.
The image was barely above the edge of the paper when I pushed it back into the envelope, looked up with tears in my eyes, and said: “Stop it. You are the best.”
Why? Well, because on International Women’s Day I got a picture and quote from the most important woman in my life- my Grandma, who I affectionately call/ed “G” (she died this past year- you can read more about her here).
My grandma survived and endured much in her life. And still, she stood in the gap in my life (or, to invoke Toni Morrison- “still she rose”). Her sufferings made my life possible. Her love grounded me and has allowed me to flourish and find my way in the world.
So when I think about the above verse from John 15– about a love that lays down its life for its friends, I think about my grandma and the countless and unnamed histories of women who have birthed us, who have fought for our rights, and who have struggled to make worlds possible. They have loved us as God has, and they have done so with even their own lives.*
The byline Andy included for Joey Elaine Stahlberg was “G”- because that’s the wonder of the beauty of who she was in the world to me. She was my Grandma. And her famous quote? Nothing other than the most important words ever uttered to me:
“I love you baber.”
May we all know we are loved. May we speak these words of life to one another. May we be a people who live our lives so as to make the lives of others possible.
And I hope that on this day, you can hear the words of God to you echoed in those of my Gram:
“You are loved, baber.”
You are loved, indeed. Happy International Women’s Day.
* Final Note: Please know that I realize that some of our mothers and women in our lives can and also have been perpetrators of abuse or neglect, and so if this is true of you then please know that I honor any struggle you have had to overcome such relationships. You are seen and loved and deserving of love that doesn’t steal life but affirms and nurtures it.
INVITATION TO REFLECTION & ACTION. Who are the women who have made possible your life? How might you thank them for that today? Maybe it is a mentor, or a spiritual figure, or a business leader. Maybe it is your aunt or grandma or spouse. Maybe it is you! Consider how you can celebrate and express your gratitude to and for them on this, International Women’s Day!
PRAYER. God, we thank you for those who have given us life and made our lives possible. May we be a people who are committed to the life and livability for all people. May we celebrate and nurture the strengths of all of your creations. Today we give you thanks for the women in our lives and pray for your love and justice to come so that any woman who suffers might find freedom and restoration to dignity and life. In the name of Christ we pray, AMEN.
TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE as you close.