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spiritual mother…

So I need a sponsor.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now, ever since I stumbled upon my original baptismal certificate while I was looking for a credit card I’d misplaced before my move.

Isn’t that always the way, the metaphor…stumbling upon something while looking for something else? Or maybe it’s just me…stumbling through things, everything reminding me of something else, eventually it all gets done somehow.

At any rate, I need a sponsor…a godparent…someone who will vouch for me when I am chrismated.

Each time I meet an Orthodox person and start a friendship I feel that I’m sizing them up for the role of godparent, sponsor, voucher. It’s a not so secret agenda. They all know I’m a catechumen. No one has asked yet about the timeline or what I have in place. It’s a rather intimate thing, this becoming Orthodox gig. So obviously, I’d write about it.

I suppose as I started the process of conversion I had this in my head. I’ve always longed for a mentor, a spiritual mother…specifically, a spiritual mother. I have always gotten along well wtih men. I am not sure what that is exactly but for some reason I’ve known better how to speak that language, not at all in a sexual way or even a purely intellectual one. I just know the path to connection there. It may be that I am not at all threatened by men, no matter how much smarter, more talented or better looking they might be. Women, on the other hand, intimidate the hell out of me.

And so I prayed for a spiritual mother, someone I could submit to, even if I disagreed with her outook, her advice, her experience, her interpretation. I want to be in that relationship.

What I realized a few years ago is that while I have prayed (and earnestly so!) for a spiritual mother it was not God who had failed to deliver. It was I who had failed to submit. He has been faithful, over and over, bringing wise and amazing women across my path. It is my own hubris that stopped the relationship. The blessing didn’t happen because I thought myself better, smarter, more talented, more wise…it’s embarrassing, I confess.

Not long ago, less than a year or so, I met two astounding women…Luci Shaw, a poet I treasure (and the person I’d like to be when I grow up) and Mary Earle, a writer I had not read when we met but whose spirit knocked me down and then promptly picked me up and offered a tremendous embrace.

When I got the great honor to meet these women something snapped in me. It was as though God had been saying to me over and over, “listen, learn, be humble here…” and for years and years I gave Him the ol’ stop sign palm…and then this time, I said “yes” and I stepped out in faith.

Both women have shown such grace to me in communications we’ve had since then. I feel at once empowered and humbled by their insights. I am affirmed even as my affliction is revealed and  then in one more breath, I am embraced. I could write of this all day and still know how much further I have to go. I’m thankful for the interactions I’ve had to date, I’m tremendously hopeful about the future having had those conversations….

So, yeah, now I need a sponsor…an Orthodox sponsor…and I want a woman to sponsor me. Unfortunately, neither Luci nor Mary are Orthodox.

I’d like to fall back into my old habit of starting a laundry list of the qualities she’d need to have but I will resist. I don’t want to look upon this sponsor as only the person who vouches for me but rather I really do want this person to have some authority, some strong voice, in my life. I know too I can’t control that, I can’t program that and I can’t force that relationship.

It feels impossible, truly.

I’m tempted to say that what I need is someone who “gets” me…the response that comes to me in prayer, though is simple…

“wait and see”