As I walk the halls of the hospital during the day and the streets of the neighborhood where I live at night, I find myself repeatedly reciting and finding comfort in these Godly Play words: “They could only go forward and they did.”
A year ago this week, I completed a chaplain residency program at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, my husband completed his graduate program, and we moved to Houston seeking new jobs, a new home, and new community. It has been a full year of transition, of learning, of struggle, and of finding new ways to trust God in the midst of it all.
The guiding words I share above come from the Godly Play story “Second Creation: The Falling Apart.” Even the story title seems fitting, as it often feels like many things as we used to know them are “falling apart.” We find ourselves in an in-between place, a liminal space, a global pandemic space, where we don’t know what the journey ahead holds; and yet, we know that our daily lives are experiencing so many differences. We know that we cannot go back to when it was all together (AKA pre-Covid).
Jerome’s language at the end of this Godly Play story continue to guide my feet and my heart as I imagine God journeying with me as we each learn how to create a new future out of all of these differences. Spoiler alert – here’s my favorite part from the end of the story:
“The differences also did something wonderful. Now Adam and Eve could take things apart and put them back together again. They could be creators, almost like God. They couldn’t make something out of nothing, but they could make something out of the differences.
After the differences, Adam and Eve could not go back to when everything was all together in the Garden. They could only go forward and they did.
God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden. An angel and a sword was put at the edge of the Garden so they could not go back, but only go forward. God went with them on their journey to help them be the best creators they could be, and to be with God in this new way, and to stay one with God.” (Jerome Berryman, Godly Play, Volume 6, 30).
My prayer is that these words are as empowering for you as they are for me. We are daily absorbing and moving through an incredible amount of differences. And yet, I wonder what it looks like to lean into the freedom of co-creating something new with God? When I find myself waiting and wishing to go back to a previous time in life, a previous job, a pre-Covid time, it is easy to sink into a place of despair.
I wonder what might happen if we stop waiting for normal to come back again? I wonder what could happen if we lean into the truth that God goes with us and that we can “only go forward.” I wonder what might happen if we stay curious about how we can take things apart and put them back together again in new ways? I wonder how a present moment and forward-facing mindset can renew hope for the future and help us to continue to make-meaning?
Creator God, inspire us with the knowledge deep within our beings that you journey with us and that you are doing something wonderful with all these differences. Amen.
Courtney Webb currently serves as a Staff Chaplain in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX and is a member of the Godly Play community at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston. She completed her seminary studies at Perkins School of Theology and Wartburg Theological Seminary, and is an ordained deacon in the ELCA. As a chaplain resident at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, she learned and practiced Godly Play in the clinical setting and continues to dream of ways to share Godly Play with people of all ages in clinical and congregational settings. Courtney enjoys reading, collecting all of the indoor plants, and exploring Houston’s great outdoors with her husband and their adopted fur-babies.