Innocence with experience

She juggles, they say.  Always several balls in the air.  And she doesn’t seem to drop any.

Not literally, of course.  This girl can’t juggle real balls to save her life.

Not even metaphorically really.  Not any more.  Because things have changed.  The gift box she wrote about some fifteen months ago, it really has dwarfed her.

Barely able to get her arms around enough of it that she will not drop it.  Unable to see round the corners of this trust which she is holding so tightly, and staggering slightly as she embraces its enormity.

Except that when she wrote those words, she had no concept of its enormity, its weight.  She saw only the obvious, the predictable.  And she mused, innocence without experience, about risking wild grace.

This year she has learned that God’s grace really is the wildest of all.  That sometimes all you can do is cling to him, trust him as you are battered and bruised, tossed around by this grace until you no longer know which way is up.  That sometimes it takes all that is within you still to affirm, to any who would hear, that this is yet his curious kindness.  That the best of grace first kills before it makes alive.

And now she is not who she was.

Or, maybe, she is who she always was.  The truer self hidden for so many years under layers of other people’s expectations, her own presuppositions about what ministry had to look like.

This truer self has to sit longer and stiller.  It cannot be present to as many, nor for as long.  The introvert in her is strength now, honoured and given space to thrive.

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Others have, largely, not understood.  Those far enough away not to see perhaps believe that she still juggles.  That she even now does all she did.  Those nearer have seen the truth, for sure.  And many of these have not celebrated it.  Not liked it, this absence from so many for so long, this flakiness at staying in touch.

Perhaps they are right to complain.  We will not know for many years the value of unremitting commitment to sit quiet before him.  Reading words.  Writing them, a stumbled prayer.  Drawn onwards, always hoping to shuffle into open secret, treasure hidden in darkness now mined for the church.

And we may never know the ministry implications of silent hiddenness pursued.  Will this life at sixty and at seventy years old be worth the cost of younger years spent in solitude, deliberate pursuit of the long road rather than candyfloss of early success?  Will the choice to waste capacity now on holding the gaze of love, will it prove itself in multiplication of later fruit?

A gamble this, a wager of one girl’s youth on a serious and drawn-out attending.  A turning of the affections and intellect and will to only One.  Truly a risk in favour of the wildest of wild graces.

And what about you?  How will you risk the grace which first kills?  Where are the places that your truer self is thriving?  And how are you saying your Yes to him in these days?

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One thought on “Innocence with experience

  1. Beautiful. I wanted to shout “YES!” in response to the questions:
    “Will this life at sixty and at seventy years old be worth the cost of younger years spent in solitude, deliberate pursuit of the long road rather than candyfloss of early success? Will the choice to waste capacity now on holding the gaze of love, will it prove itself in multiplication of later fruit?”
    —–But I think you already know the answer yourself.x
    Loved the questions to us at the end… Challenging, food for thought! Thank you! 🙂

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