No two ways about it. There is something mystical about birth that puts me in a different frame of mind.

And then--well, it's Easter week, and we just watched Jesus Christ Superstar, so I've been thinking about my first church experience as a mother--

way back when, when I was relatively new to Cleveland, new to motherhood, and feeling pretty isolated. At one point I decided church might be a good place to make new friends. So I made an appointment with a minister at a church close to our house (that was the primary qualification, that it be in walking distance), and, on a warm day, strapped my daughter into her stroller and set off. She was old enough to talk by then, maybe two or three. The minister, an affable man with white hair and an evident love of children, asked if he could hold Suzanne, and she sat on in his lap while we talked, playing with the book on his desk and gnawing on a giant pretzel (it was a beautiful book full of artwork and history--and, by the time we left,  full disgusting half-chewed pretzel pieces) while I confessed that I didn't really believe in anything. God makes no sense to me. He nodded patiently, letting Suzanne turn the pages in his book, bending a few. She stopped at a picture of Christ. What's that man doing? she asked, pointing with her pretzel. We all stared at the picture of Jesus, his head lolling to one side, blood running from beneath his crown of thorns. 

That's Jesus, the minister said. But don't worry. He ascended. Suzanne looked at the picture blankly.

He sended? she asked.

Yes, the minister nodded, smoothing her hair. He went to heaven. She looked up at me, puzzled, so I tried to explain, He went into the sky.  

He flied? she asked.

Not exactly, the minister said, before turning to me (and maybe reading my mind--I was thinking clearly church doesn't seem like such a good idea after all) and saying quietly, You don't have to believe any of that to be welcome here. It's who we are as people that matters. 

Before we left, Suzanne offered him the gooey stub that had once been her pretzel.  And (ugh) he ate it.  




         by Ruth Stone

Cylinder sacks of water filling the oceans,

endless bullets of water,

skins full of water rolling and tumbling

as we came together.

As though light broke us apart.

As though light came with the rubble of words,

though we die among the husks of remembering.

It is as we knew it would be

in the echoes of endless terminals,

in the slow scaled guises of ourselves

when we came together in the envelopes of ourselves,

the bare shadow, the breath of words invisible;

as slight errors repeating themselves;

as degradation passes like madness through a crowd.

It was not ordained.

It was one drop of salt water against another.