The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling
One of my cousins-in-law recently posted a picture on FaceBook. There was a huge grizzly bear chasing four men. One man had a tripod and camera and the other three were running slightly ahead of him. “The guy with the camera said, ‘Reckon we can outrun this bear?’ The guy with the beard said, ‘Not a chance.’ The guy with the camera asked, ‘ So what’s the point of trying?’ The guy with the beard responded, ‘I just gotta outrun you.’” It reminded me of a poster on the wall of the executive director of Youth Services in Newtown. There was a picture of two bears caught in the cross hairs of a rifle. One bear is grinning and pointing his finger at the other bear. Shoot him not me, the bear suggested. Eat him, not me, the man replied.
What does this have to do with Momma bears and fire hydrants? I’ve been called both things in my lifetime; and they remind me of two Sundays in May: Mother’s Day (May 10) and Pentecost (May 24). In case you aren’t a church-type, Pentecost is the liturgical feast day when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and little tongues of fire appear on each of their heads. It’s the day that we celebrate the Power we receive from on High and the power that each of us possesses alone. As for Mother’s Day, it’s the feast day of all feast days. It also holds a lot of power!
I like my name Momma Bear because I will fight like a grizzly when it comes to my children. In general, I like to think that I will chase down untruths and injustices, even when that little voice in my head says, “What’s the point of trying?” I will growl at people who have hurt me and others; but I like to think that I won’t shoot the messenger or the enemy. I can be a fierce animal when trying to protect the rights, dignity, equality, and freedom of anyone; Momma Bear is one of my personal, feminist, and Christian calling cards. Don’t mess with Momma Bear.
The fire hydrant metaphor was given to me by a member of a congregation in which I served. I had offered a six week course on prayer and discernment, and at the end of our very fruitful time together, I asked for feedback. She said, “You’re like a fire hydrant. Sometimes the volume of the water is too much to absorb.” Guilty. The truth is, I get excited about certain people and things. I love to share what I know; and sometimes I offer too much information, even way too much information. My daughter describes me as “feisty;” and yet, in my fire-hydrant enthusiasm, I don’t want to put out your little flames of fire either!So, instead of trying to outrun our fellow human beings, or point the finger or the gun at others, or even question whether it’s worth the fight, let’s first embrace our inner Momma bears and our own little fire hydrants. God is our Momma Bear and we are all God’s beloved cubs. Let’s pour out our spirits with the volume of a fire hydrant on a hot summer’s day, and cool the flames of hatred and violence with words of peace and acts of love. We’re in this race together and God has given us the Power.