Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Standing in the Corner

The poet Rumi speaks of separation: [Separation] becomes more poignant if in the distance you can't tell whether a friend is going away or coming back. The pushing away pulls you in. Or, if you happened to be human and like some sense of control in one's life, separation is enough to cause you to flip the crazy switch.

Rumi did not add the last part, but in the waning moments of Epiphany, we enter the separation season of Lent, a time when we ought to reflect on those things we do and allow to be done to us in our lives that add distance between us, between God, and between all the moments in life when we could celebrate, but shiver in the corner instead because of what might happen.

Corner, you say. Is that in the Ash Wednesday confession?

Yes and no. Not specifically, it isn't. We confess and repent for all the crap we do to others, all the unkindness we show to those whom we don't like and justify why we don't like them to God.

"But it's in the Bible I don't have to like that sinner!" we whine.

And then confess that sin. And we confess the sins of omission, where we were just too stupid and unaware to even know we were up to no good. Oh yes, God notices those gems of human activity, too.

But somewhere in Lent, we ought to find a way to reflect on the corners we stand in during life, avoiding the gifts God places in our path. The opportunities that come our way, the ministries and mission, the love in friendships and relationships, even, that stand in front of us, just outside our comfortable reach from our safety zone (that blasted corner). To touch them and to allow them to touch us, we have to step out - out of the place that seems safe and known and controllable.

But let me say, that corner is safe. No doubt about that. We're covered on at least two sides, and can see things coming most of the time. No one will sneak up on us. We can keep those who love us and those who don't love us so much in our sites. We can watch the action from a safe distance, maybe easing out a bit when the coast is clear, but quickly able to run back when life feels unsafe and new.

And what really stinks is that most of us don't even know when we're standing in our corners, afraid of the party, until we try to move backward, away from the action, and crash into the walls behind us. Those lovely walls from the gashes of our life that haven't quite healed and probably never will completely. Those places that we long to share with someone who will care, but are simply convinced that those other children of God wouldn't understand and will say we're oversensitive or freaking out. Those corners that keep us standing when we were too overwhelmed to stand on our own from the pain and wounds.

Problem is, many of us don't need those corners anymore for strength, but we still lean on those walls. And we're missing the celebration and the gifts and the sheer chance of living while we continue to stand in the corner.

This Lent, can we listen to God calling us forward in the distance? That holy separation is never God walking away, but God asking us to take one step, two steps, three steps, forward to what waits. God doesn't promise that moving away from our corners will be easy or even successful every time. We'll run back a few times, even. We'll even crawl back and slide up the wall again as we let our fears subside and heal before we journey forward again.

Where is your corner? What party are you missing? And how can you begin to let the separation from the holy joy of God that standing in the corner is causing subside. Can we let the pushing away from those walls pull us into the surprises and opportunities the God shares with us?

One step at a time.


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