Our community is rapidly experiencing the last 3 weeks of our Apprenticeship year, and a whole host of emotions, swirling thoughts, and frantic ‘final things’ define much of our days right now. As a part of the Entrusting posture, we are reading Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, which has immediately risen to the Top 5 (3?) books that I have ever read (Not a surprise once I learned that Henri Nouwen was a longtime mentor of Palmer). I could pontificate on endless things regarding this book, but instead let me simply post an original poem of his that has stopped me in my tracks.
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.
I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.
Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons–
The farmer plants to plant a greening season.
So much has changed in the past 9 months of growth. I am uprooted in ways beyond my intellectual, emotional, even guttural ability to understand. I am becoming a different sort of person: richer, fuller, clarified. Paradoxically however, the seeds of this growth have happened through confusion, isolation as I am confronted with my cultural perspectives, and a gentle uncovering of my hypocrisy as I live within the mirror that is intentional community.
Much of me wishes to continue plowing, nay, even to stay broken and paralyzed. A few words Colin Crawley taught us in regards to healing prayer have anchored themselves within my soul these past several months, namely that ‘Those of us who are living in paralyzed sickness have no concept of knowing what life in freedom feels like.’ In actuality, I often prefer darkness to light because the reality of my life has presented no other alternative. Walking in a settled joy, calm peace, and hopeful freedom feels unnatural to me because ‘my normal’ is the antithesis of these things!
I am scared to walk into my future, let alone to step in confidence. I embrace Florida Scott Maxwell’s words with a grasp that I desire only to deepen:
“You only need claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done…you are fierce with reality.”