Richard Rohr talks about how it’s important for us to see others model God or Jesus. Whether it’s Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa or Rachel Held Evans, they are the most seemingly tangible piece of reality that points back to a Creator. They are people who fought good fights and ran good races.
I first found out Rachel Held Evans was in the hospital via Sarah Bessey on the almighty platform that is Twitter. Apparently, a journalist was out of line and posted about it. From there, it was public. While Sarah was upset it was made public, she instead turned it into one of the best social media moments and movements I’ve seen: she asked that people “gather” at 10am (PST) and pray for Rachel. The hashtag #PrayForRHE was born.
When it began, I was pumping at work, which gave me a window to intercede with others. I began praying (and typing) for Rachel. I also started crying because I could literally feel the power of what we were doing. The Spirit was so present all over the country. I knew her hospital room was filling, filling, filling to the brim with prayers in those very moments.
As the days progressed, updates were posted by her husband. And, like all hard prayer requests I’ve received, she remained on my heart. One night, at roughly 2AM while nursing, I felt the call to intercede again. What has transpired is what all the world now knows … Rachel Held Evans beautiful spirit has left this Earth.
Did I personally know Rachel? No. And I don’t think I had to in order to know who she was. I’ve read countless postings about her influence that spanned — like a net out into the open ocean — deep and wide. She touched the tender spirit of those hurt by the Church, gave a voice for those fighting to be heard within the Church, and advocated her ass off for those on the margins. This was my kind of woman.
In all honesty, because I didn’t know her, it feels so strange to feel so sad. The cerebral part of me keeps trying to solve the riddle as to why this sadness keeps following me around.
- Is it the “unanswered prayer” feeling? Having prayed for people and seen the answer follow days, weeks, months later … this feels … defeating?
- Is it knowing the depth of influence? Seeing friends and those directly impacted by her feel so at loss is almost too much to bear when I think about it. People who never felt safe at Church felt safe with Rachel.
- Is it the fact that life is so, so fleeting? Her last Tweet asked for prayer because she was sick.
God, why Rachel?
I think it’s all of the above and more. I don’t know about you, but I am going to dive deep into her books now, starting with “Searching for Sunday.” I want her influence to impact me long after the #BecauseofRHE Tweets stop rolling in and long after this sadness leaves my heart. I want to feel empowered by this woman who met so many on the margins and held their hand.
I hope you join me as Rachel Held Evans continues to heal others from “Heaven.”