She will go before Shakespeare.
She will go before Shakespeare in the wild parade of the blessed, after the striving, after the yearning ache or the clambering up mountains to see something (was it just ourselves we wanted to see, after all?).
She will come forward, who labored two new beings into the world – the mother, the child – kneeling on a cold bedroom floor in countless houses in the town, kneeling to watch that which God made, new and new again.
She will be known among the crowds of the heavenly, and Shakespeare, laughing, will sweep his words aside to make room to praise her.
Because this is the kingdom of God, where love is too wild to be measured, where the parade is laughing and ever laughing, at the knots we tangled ourselves in thinking if only we had the recognition or the security of it, the words embossed in prizes or publications, the fame, the knowing.
But this is the Kingdom of the anonymous faithful named for all that was glorious in their calling, where the hierarchies are scattered in our abundance of eagerness, where we leave behind how we have named one another – famous or critically acclaimed or somehow not quite enough yet (oh, how often have I named myself that?) –
where we leave it behind because the Kingdom is coming, and our joy sees its fullness, and so we abandon decorum and procession and we run, children again, to the throne.
This is the Kingdom where a midwife marches in step with a poet, where the bankers and bakers and those who mothered and fathered six children walk through the streets, unknown by accomplishment but known by calling.
And some days I sit in a train car with a man whose calling I can hear sounding in me as fierce as my own heartbeat, and I write these words on the back of a receipt from a coffee shop where I met someone two months ago and told us both what I want to write here, what I want to shout to everyone: in the Kingdom of God there is too much joy and too much wonder and too much life abundant that our ladders will be unraveled by the power of the river of living water.
I write that the midwife will go before Shakespeare, and laughing, they will praise each other. She will whisper how she saw Twelfth Night once, and he will whisper that he ought to have written ten sonnets in praise of her hands.
I sit in a train car in a green dress in summer, remembering how my friend, she first told me this truth: that a midwife will go before Shakespeare, that in a Kingdom where last is first, our measurements fall to pieces, and this will be joy to us.
Thy Kingdom come.