Friday, August 18, 2006

Stepping Into the River

I have been wearing fear like a shroud, a shawl, a wrap – comforting myself with its cozy familiarity regardless of the discomfort it brought. But it doesn’t fit anymore. It never fit well anyway, but I got so used to the feel that I stopped noticing long ago.

This shadow of fear had wrapped itself tightly around my heart like plastic wrap in what I thought was an extra layer of protection, keeping bad things out and maybe good things in. But really all it did was keep my heart constricted in a place too small for it to beat wholly, for life to run through it, for it to grow. And all the protection I was cherishing was suffocating me bit by bit by bit.

And I finally realized I couldn’t breathe. So with a lot of tedious work and effort, it’s been removed – a lot of unwrapping and then picking away at all the little pieces left behind. But that artificial support it created left an imprint. Like when you take off a ring you wear all the time and you can feel where it used to be. So I’m getting used to the feeling of freedom, of not being constrained by fear and worry, able to see without this haze of constant vigilance clouding my vision.

I’m happy to get used to this new freedom. So much of my freedom has come from me fighting against things and people, standing apart and aside, distancing myself from expectation and need and connectedness, all in the name of freedom. But I don’t think this is the requirement anymore. And loneliness isn’t really freedom – it’s just a kind of isolation.

Freedom for me now is being free to love – to be as loving and generous as feels right, not restricting that for fear of anything. Because this is something that’s very true to who I am, and I have denied that for soooooooo long…just the simple need to love. To be connected and engaged and involved.

In ways I cannot fathom or understand, that has always seemed a shameful thing. But it doesn’t look or feel that way to me anymore. Love feels like the essential river that runs through us all, connecting us and giving us life and joy, and I cannot bear to turn my back on that life-giving force for another second.

I have been parched, watching this river flow by me, never daring to dip in my toe or take a drink. But today, I stepped fully into it, and it has refreshed and enlivened me and brought me back to life. I will not step out of this river again so I hope you will join me there.

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