Do you remember that conversation I had in the restaurant with the four wise men? When I tried to explain our trip to Florida to seek healing for David? Well, I didn’t tell you about this one last little part of the conversation. I summed up the pilgrimage to the wise men like this “Who am I to second guess what God might do? Maybe even I’ll get healed – which scares the crap out of me.”
We all had a good little laugh at that.
But it’s true. The idea of losing all of my wounds means I would also have to let go of my crutches. Those mental excuses, subtle self-put-downs and constant compromises that keep me from fulfilling my potential and purpose would be gone. I’d have to grow up and come out of my shell and be who God made me to be instead of this scaled down, scared and sorry version that limps along.
I am working on a project. I work on it even on holydays. Every spare moment I get – when I’m not napping or reading trash novels or watching movies – no, even then. When I’m doing the dishes, riding my bike, swimming, driving to work – it’s there to be worked on like a gargantuan picture puzzle. Piece by piece.
I talk with Carol about it. I talk to anyone who’ll listen about it. I talk to God about it. Sometimes God sends me really weird shaped pieces in the form of dreams and it takes a while to see how that God-piece fits – it often opens up a whole new section – or gets me looking at a section that I’d given up on.
This picture puzzle is my life. My life up ‘til now and the rest of my days. You might say that this is an ego-driven self obsession – to spend so much brain power on one’s self. Then you’d sound just like that part of me that denies the truth about me.
The truth is that there is an allan that is emerging. There is an authentic, rooted, spirit-led man-child that is emerging into the world. He lives in the kin-dom of God and walks in the Garden of Eden each morning before dawn. His birthright is waiting for him and his brothers and sisters. The ancient ones, the angels, the sages of this day are all urging and encouraging him on.
But there is also an allan that is the envelope for this true message. He is the clothing, the cloak, the coat that gets put on each day as the sun rises and he walks out from the Garden into the concrete jungle. He’s been taught to live with fear. Every time he puts on that coat – that armor – he puts another brick in the wall. He’s busy building the brick house that keeps the little pigs safe from the “wolf at the door” – and the other pigs better run for it too or be eaten.
And so he runs. He dances. He performs. He’s pretty good at it. But not great because his heart’s not in it. He’s not looking for the security of the house where the poor hungry wolf gets boiled alive playing Santa Claus down the chimney.
The Authentic allan gives thanks and sings Hallelujahs when the wolf blows his house of sticks apart. In the storm his fear turns to rage and he turns on the wolf. In the scrap he chews off a piece of that old wolf’s ear. The wolf understands this rage and desperate hunger and they make a pact. Forget the “eat or be eaten” pigs. (too much pork isn’t very healthy anyway.)
Together they go into the woods to make a life led by Hope not Fear. There they find all kinds of other creatures. They all show signs of battle scars and wounds. But when each day’s work is done they gather and tell stories of courage and hope. They sing and their pain – pain that bites deep and makes them wonder again about the life in the brick house – their pain makes the music sweet. The words are like food and drink and they are nourished for another day in the kin-dom.
I came across one of Frederick Buechner’s most famous lines – if not his most famous – this week. Vocation, he defines as “The kind of work that you need most to do and that the world most needs to have done.”
My vocation is to become an authentic person. I believe that what this world most needs are authentic people. People who know how to discern between the voices of fear and the songs of hope. People who are not afraid to stop dancing to the frantic songs of survival and listen for the music in the lap of the waves on the stony beach at the end of the day. People who can help others hear it too.
In my work I am piecing together the memories of who I am. How I got hurt. How that hurt got me here. How was my authentic self nurtured? How was my true nature celebrated and how did that coat of armor get fabricated? I remember the times when I danced in that heavy coat and reaped rewards to pin on my chest. And I remember the times, naked and bruised, when few but God and the saints cheered me on.
It’s easy to forget. It’s easier not to remember. The building of the brick house takes so much effort. It jealously sucks my focus. It’s what we talk about in polite company. It is our news and entertainment and what passes for culture.
But in the night before dawn, the howling hungry wolf calls me back to my true nature. It reminds me that even people who live in brick houses can join in the work. In fact the puzzle, the kin-dom, cannot be completed without us. We need each other to make friends with the wolf and the bear and the lion and all the dragons and germs and diseases that seem about to tear our lives apart. We need to sing those songs of courage and hope for each other – to translate the wolf’s howl as Saint Paul did…
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.