Monday, January 24, 2011
arms wide open
I was so struck by this conversation about the Power of Living Vulnerably. It brought the following images to mind:
Outside the box is an uncertainty about the path ahead. It's just a little scary to put one foot in front of the other and move forward into that moment of darkness before seeing the light again. At first it's all black, but after a bit there's a soft glow illuminating the hand in front of your face as you gingerly move forward feeling for and protecting yourself from any obstacles ahead. Soon your hand drops down to the side and swings back and forth with arms as you begin to move confidently forward into the light, forward on the path.
Sometimes the path is a wide expanse, a yellow brick road paving the way to Oz, and the walk is easy, comfortable and enjoyable. Sure, "There are lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" but it's okay. There is room for dancing and singing on this road. Room for adventure. Room to throw your arms open wide, toss your head back and twirl for no reason whatsoever. Room to skip freely, propelling yourself forward, feet barely touching the ground for the joy of it. Arms open wide to invite in the joy, the love, the light, the living.
Other times it's a narrow precipice with a sharp drop off both sides into endlessness. There is no dancing here, no room to move freely. Instead your feet move gingerly forward, feeling for a toe hold. Your arms long to be clutched protectively around your heart, but instead are held out as an aid to help you keep balance. In the next instant your arms are flailing wildly as you struggle to say upright and keep the balance. The light seems so dim, it barely illuminates what's there and you simply can't keep your hand in front of your face, you're so busy fighting to keep balance. And with your arms open wide you feel more vulnerable than ever, unwittingly inviting in the hope, the strength, the struggle, and the peace, the balance.
Sometimes you fall barely catching yourself with one finger, scrambling to get back on that path, desperate to find sure footing, chest heaving and burning at the effort of getting up again.
Other times you fall with a satisfying splat right into the middle of the patch of green grasses and bright flowers in the middle of of the path. Resting for a moment under trees of coolness and light. Enjoying the beauty that is there in that place where you stop to rest.
Oh, the life you have on that path. The unexpected corners. The breathtaking views at the top. A sunrise-new beginning. A sunset-closing out. The rockiness, the jumble, the upside-down-ness of the path. It's just part of the journey. And that path you're on is your own no matter how wide or narrow the way. And the best part, you are never alone on that path.
Especially when you fall, arms flailing wildly, outstretched, hoping for something, someone to stop the fall, and He does. He enters into your open arms, and sometimes almost imperceptibly wraps his own arms around you, calming the fall, enveloping your heart. He waits patiently until you can feel him and know He was always there. The One who caught you by the finger and lifted you back up. The One who cushions the blow and sometimes even takes it. He is the one always there with you, recognized or not.
So here's what I realized about the power of living vulnerably for me: Living with my arms wide open, opening myself up means that I am open to God directing my life and showing me the path. Being vulnerable means being humble. Being imperfect. Not knowing the answers. Not being able to see the end. Falling in love again with no guarantees. And really are there ever any guarantees where love is concerned? Living vulnerably is about taking risks in life and love, and having faith that broken hearts are healed, God will always make up the difference, and love is always worth the risk.