Idols of silver [are] made according to their understanding. “Sacrifice to these,” they say. People are kissing calves! Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes away early. – Hosea 13:2-3 (NRSV, abridged)
I was not raised in a Christian tradition that included kissing. We didn’t kiss hands or feet. We didn’t kiss a cross or an icon. We didn’t kiss baptized babies or newly ordained ministers. We didn’t kiss to pass the peace (or pass the peace at all).
But among the members of that rural church, I wouldn’t be surprised if a farmer or two kissed a newborn calf with gratitude for its arrival.
The calves being kissed in Hosea 13 were statues of polished silver—idols and alternatives to Israel’s God. The consequence? The arrival of a morning when life would dissipate like dew. And yet, regardless of whether we kiss a silver calf or a Brown Swiss calf, whether we get life entirely right and make a complete mess, one day we all will be like the morning mist.
So maybe, kiss a little until that morning comes.
With consent, of course.
Kiss the Holstein calf that grows with each new day. Pass on kissing the disco-ball-of-a-silver-calf that doesn’t know the meaning of a new day. Kiss the beauty that leads you to vulnerability. Pass on kissing the pedestal that celebrates your greatness. Kiss the joy that deepens your love of community. Pass on kissing the mirrors that magnify your love of self. Kiss the mistiness of others while you have time. Pass on kissing the grudges that stifle your well-being.
Kiss the holy wilderness a little more often.
Kiss the questions a little more often.
Kiss your loves a little more often too.
And if someone protests that it’s really too much, all this kissing and loving and connecting and appreciating, tell them you don’t have time to argue. You have too many calves still to kiss before the morning mist of life departs.
Let love lead my living and my dying, O God of every new day.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.