The red thread.

Redemption is not alchemy. The blood of the Lamb does not transform us into shimmering, perfect, pain-free morning people who never yell at their kids or get cancer or commit adultery. The blood of the Lamb doesn’t change our story, it makes it a story worth telling.

So I’m just sitting here, trying to untangle this red thread. I run my fingers over the knots, study how they twist and loop. It is tedious, infuriating.

At the start, I am four years old, finally curious about the saltines and grape juice and why I don’t get any. I kneel down with my Mama and Daddy and a King James Bible, say the Sinner’s Prayer, and call Preacher.

Loops, tangles.

I’m 22, laying hands on strangers in a crowd, praying in tongues, following the Spirit as he marks watchmen to be houses of prayer. I am a teacher, a preacher.

Over and under, through.

I’m 12, being nudged by my Mama on our first Sunday as Episcopalians, “That boy up there with the guitar! That’s the boy you’re going to marry.”

I’m 20, hauling boxes out of the apartment I shared with my drunk boyfriend.

I’m 31, leading worship with my husband, that boy with the guitar, after years of maternity leave.

Impossible knots.

I’m 19, manically praying in an olive grove on a hill outside of Rome where I’ve locked myself out of the house in the pitch black night. I beg God to open the door if he really loves me. Even though I cannot work the key, I cannot even find the lock, it opens.

I’m 11, traveling the world with my Daddy as he preaches to ever growing crowds. He is anointed. He is on tv.

Fraying edges.

I’m 21, calling the board of directors of my father’s ministry to tell them he’s run off and left us all, unrepentant.

I’m four again, shivering in my royal blue baptismal robe, my Daddy’s fingers pinching my nose, his arms dropping me down into the water, “Rachel, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”

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