I’ll be honest.
The first time I saw this photo I thought,
Woa, Girl! When’d you stop holding your stomach in?
Of course, the photographer used a wide-angle lens. Maybe I shouldn’t wear sundresses now that I have a layer of back fat? Gone are the slender arms of all those decades leading up to 45. Well, what do I expect after three years off from an active lifestyle? I really was going to lose those 10 pounds before the wedding…
I methodically picked away at the body image before me, flaking off each imperfection with a critical eye. Embarrassed not to wear my skin the same as I have in the past.
He didn’t ask me if I was done yet.
He didn’t remind me that pride has a way of distorting flesh, and skin was made to be worn over bodies that truly live through the years.
He simply rubbed an artist’s thumb across the earth’s mud I had smeared my eyes with, whispering I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. And I saw what lens and light had truly captured.
There we were, two women who had met just days before. Bodies and skin worn well from growing children, nine months towards labor and years and years towards birth, and we stood leaking joy on the marriage day. How exquisite motherhood looks on you, Favored One.
Two mothers who had shared a meal at each meeting, stomachs filled with the bread of gladness.
Two mothers, backs strong enough to bend to toddlers and not break with teenagers. Strong enough to carry a child instead of a burden.
Two mothers whose arms had cradled the infant, hugged the child, and opened wide in surrender to the rhythm of life. You and I, Favored One, we know in giving we receive. We’ll do our best to wear each other’s names well. Mom.
I see it now. That which is invisible but felt in a touch and shared in a smile. It was good to have a sister by my side that day.
You wear your life proudly, all you Favored Ones. Your skin has stretched years across joy and pain and hard work and rest. It’s been filled with games and laughter, mistakes and tears, and birthday cake. You have lines of loneliness and no-one-understands-me and marks of celebration and grand friendship. You are art, created in the image of the Artist.
Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.
The body is put back in the same ground it came from.
The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it. Ecc 12:6-7
Your life looks good on you, cake and all.