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Of Wocks and Women

My niece and I were collecting
acorns in the driveway last week,
scouring the area around the big
oak tree in my brother’s yard trying to
find as many of the little brown “wocks”
as we could, then depositing them in the
bright plastic pail we’d fished out of the
sandbox. This was a task to which nineteen-
month-old Adrianna was fully committed,
clearly, so I left her to her work,
occasionally offering my support by pointing
out an as-yet-undiscovered cache that
was ripe for the gathering, or by reminding
her, when her chubby little hands got
too full to hold any more, to make a trip
back to the bucket.

I wondered as I watched what attracted
her to certain acorns and not to others.
She avoided the ones that were smashed
or broken, hesitated at the ones that were
caked in dirt (but often picked them up
anyway, dropped them in the bucket, and
then wiped her hands judiciously on her
orange pants), and completely bypassed
the ubiquitous little cup-shaped caps that
littered the ground–these, apparently,
were not worthy of her attention or energy.
But it wasn’t perfection she was after, I
know, since even the imperfect nuts would
sometimes catch her eye and end up in the
pail alongside the pretty, shiny, clean ones.
She had a definite idea what she was looking
for, this little girl, an idea that even my
heartiest encouragement–“Look at that
one!” or “Oh! I think I see a good one over
there!”–did little to alter. Whatever it was
that she was looking for, she’d amble off in
dogged pursuit of it, while I laughed quietly,
and wondered.

Maybe Adrianna was on to something.
Or, more likely: Adrianna was on to something; I’m just not exactly sure what
it was. I wish I knew. I wish I could’ve
looked out at that driveway, at the world,
through her eyes. Then I might’ve known,
or at least had some inkling, what she
was seeing in the “wocks” that she ultimately
decided to pick up–and in the
ones she left untouched.

It’s fortunate for us as humans that
our ability to see the world through another
person’s eyes increases in direct
proportion to both the other person’s facility
with written and spoken language
and our own ability to hear and grasp it.
Language gives us the capacity to connect,
to build community, and, ultimately,
to become more fully human.

This issue of Perspectives, like other
issues, is something of an exercise
in the art of seeing. But what makes it
unique is its origin in a talented group
of young female writers, pastors, and on-the-ground theologians–women whose
hands, feet, faces, and voices represent
the hands, feet, faces, and voices of Reformed
Christianity in the world today.
With the exception of those who contributed
reviews and poetry (and who were
thus constrained by the function and
form of their chosen genre), the contributors
each received this assignment: write
about something you’re passionate about,
something you’ve been wondering about,
something you feel uniquely equipped
and compelled to share with readers.
No specific theme or topic, no explicit
focus on what it means to be “young,
Reformed, and female”–just individual
voices speaking to the realities of their
own experiences and perspectives.

The collective result has themes of
community, inclusivity (and exclusivity),
hospitality, and identity emerging and reemerging
throughout. Against this backdrop,
other themes, like doubt, lament, and darkness, stand in stark, telling
contrast. In ways that are both personal
and theoretical, quotidian and prophetic,
compelling and debatable, these authors
humbly offer their wisdom and invite our
consideration as well as our scrutiny.
They invite us to consider the world, for a
few moments, through their eyes.
And who knows? If we look close
enough, we just might find a wock or two
of our own.

Arika Theule-Van Dam is an editorial associate at
Baker Academic and served as guest editor of this issue
of Perspectives.