I’ve been wondering lately about the nature of prophecy. Isaiah gets a lot of attention during Advent.
I tried to come up with a list of traits all prophecies possess, but they’re such slippery things. I’m not even sure they belong here, in our everyday world.
But I’ve heard people prophecy. I know I have. Not Big Prophets – Christ/The End of the World is coming and can you people just get your shit together Prophets. Little prophets. Housewife and mother prophets. Blue collar and homeless prophets.
I think there’s two kinds of prophecy. One is the kind that God makes: “I am God, and I’m going to do this thing.” And then he does, because who the hell is going to stop him?
The other kind is the one where we plant names in each other like seeds. Sometimes the names take root and grow and flourish.
Here is a story about what that sort of prophecy looks like:
A little over a decade ago my mom was watching a dolphin show at the Indianapolis Zoo with her best friend, Linda. Linda turned to my mom and said, “I could see you doing that.”
Such a simple, offhand statement. But it came out of a years-long friendship and a deep love and understanding for my mom. It gave her names like Competent, Talented, Hard Working, Good With Animals.
With these names in her back pocket, my mom started volunteering at the zoo and worked her way up to the coveted position she has now. Last night I watched her host a dolphin show as one of the senior trainers.
That’s the kind of prophecy I hear these days – seed prophecy. The giving of names.
So to all the people that have prophesied over me, that have given me names so that I could take root and grow and flourish: Your words have made me stand up straight and work hard to prove you right. Thank you.