It was 10:30.
My partner and I had been waiting for such a call, it wasn't a total surprise. But we had anticipated a bit more warning - some time to prepare. We had - nothing. No clothing, no diapers, no bottles, no bed. None of those usual things that fool new parents into thinking they are prepared.
"How about 4:00," I said. "We'll need to go to Target."
By 4:00, we were walking out the emergency room doors of Denver Health holding a tiny baby.
It was what they call, a high risk placement. Which meant, birth mom still had parental rights. Which also meant, every call we got after that first one,we were sure was to say, she couldn't stay.
We wouldn't let our friends buy us anything. And we didn't want to name her, or act as if she was going to stay.
Imagine the heartbreak, we thought, if she has to leave, and we are left with all her stuff. We couldn't.
Calls to love more fully never come without terror. Whether its the call of Moses or the call to open our hearts -
there is never any real guarantee. It's all high risk.
Which is why, in the call stories of scripture, there is almost always a moment where the chosen one says - no way. I can't do it. Pick someone else.
Not because the workload is heavy - though it often is - or because the problems are too big - though they often are. But because inevitably saying yes means having your heart broken.
Parker Palmer reminds us there are two ways for your heart to break. The first is to be shattered into pieces. The other is for your heart to be broken open. "This small, tight fist of a thing called my heart can be broken open into greater capacity to hold more of my own and the world's suffering and joy."
A week or two after we got that first call, I was talking to my sister, telling her how we were being careful not to love the baby too much. "She might not get to stay."
With a real sisterly love, she responded. "That is so stupid."
"To her, you're already her moms. You can try to be all distant, but you'll miss out on what's happening right now, and if she doesn't stay - your hearts will still be broken."
We knew she was right. But we were just so scared.
We told a friend our fears, and she responded boldly and clearly: "You need to name her."
And so finally, that night, in our kitchen, we did. We took the great leap of faith into the groundless ground.
We lit a candle, and wrote out her full name, and we said it to her. And with that, we felt our terrified hearts, breaking open.
The phone is ringing. It's an ordinary day.
You've had no warning. You aren't prepared.
It's a high risk, and there are no guarantees.
And yet the invitation is before you, calling your name.
Calling all our names.
What shall we do?
(written for the Front Range UU Congregations combined choirs concert, April 6, 2013 - Check out a snippet of this amazing event here)