Who Could Stand?
“If you kept a record of our sins,
Lord, who could stand?” – Psalm 130:3
I’m so self-regarding that at the supreme moment of my ordination, the laying on of hands, when I should’ve been fixed on the power of the Holy Spirit, I was thinking, “Oh crap, my parents are here. They know me.”
They know me, the ratty teenager who made their lives miserable with contempt. They know me, the condescending collegian, all pontification about what was wrong with them and their world. They know me, the religious professional, so attentive to others but rarely to them. They know me like no one else here knows me, a welter of secrets and fears, judgments and hurt. What must they be thinking as this assembly pronounces me, whom they know to be a wretch, worthy?
I was mortified imagining the internal smirks, the eye-rolls, the effort it was taking them not to unmask me, the pious fraud. Surely they’d kept a record of my sins?
Apparently not. As I was getting to my feet, dizzy from kneeling so long in such a tight circle, it was my mother’s hand that grasped me to steady my wobble. And behind her, my father’s sigh, “I love you.”
It had never occurred to me before that moment that to know me was to love me. It had never occurred to me before that moment that in love’s courtroom there are no priors, in its counting house no ledgers or sums. Only at that moment did I understand how firmly I’d been standing all along.
“If you kept a record…” But you don’t.
With you, O God, is forgiveness, a steadying hand, a deep and loving sigh, a place to stand. Praise to you forever.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.