This is under the walnut tree in our beautiful backyard nutgrove. It’s the end of December and I’m so glad I have the picture! Just looking at it makes me sigh and breathe deeply, as if I’m standing in the warm sun. But I’m not. As I write this, we’re buried under several inches of Pacific Northwest snow and expecting more. Anyway…the walnut tree…
We admire its grand form and hefty sprawling branches; its shiny, magnificent leaves and voluptuous casings which protect the precious nuts. We explore it with our grandchildren, sit under its shade, nurture and put nothing toxic near it. Now we have two 50 pound bags of nuts in our basement which we have neither eaten nor shared–yet. Walnuts are easy to crack if you get the angle just right, but it can be tedious to dig out the delicious, nutritious meat. So there they sit.
We Christian types love the idea of being “broken and spilled out,” the image of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet with her squandered flask of expensive fragrance. How romantic and sentimental. And how utterly hypocritical of me to speak of how I value such acts while simultaneously refusing to pop open the casing of my own life, crack its shell and do the work of sharing whatever of its contents may be useful for nourishment. How disingenuous to dance around the fire of our shared human experience with other famished souls, withholding the fruit of my life with which another may be fed. Can I go on saying I want to be part of the solution, hoarding and hiding what I have found to be life-giving, liberating core truths, in case you don’t like them and leave me?
Truth? I hate criticism. But I think I’m coming to value authenticity more than I fear criticism…I think. We’ll see, right? We’ll see if I am secure enough to handle what I think I want, which is honest, loving discourse, even when we disagree–which is not criticism. If you read the previous post, it should not surprise you that disagreement and withdrawal are partners in my past. So it is with fear and trembling that I enter the fray. I hope that what you encounter here results in deeper relationships and more conversations, not shallower and fewer.
Let it be known, then, that this is the year of OPEN. Open to God. Open to others. Open with myself. As it was in the case of the Emperor who was the last to know he was inappropriately [un]clothed for public viewing, this requires honesty of the highest order. It may come in fits and starts, but may what has begun in other places at other times with others of like mind, continue to be the nature of things here.
And if you have stomach for one more confession… I’ve not perfected all that I write about. I have practiced most at one time or another and continue to expand my experiences and my education. I will not recommend something I have not explored. Somehow, I adopted the notion that I had to present as if, so that you would come, trust, engage, bother. If only I could somehow convince you that I had it all together and “had already attained…” But, Alas! I don’t and I haven’t. Yes, I have some things to offer and I want to share them. Yes, I’ve obtained some training and I’ve found some things helpful, as have countless others. I think you might, too, so here I am.
But I’m letting go of the expectation that I have to be right or that the path I’ve chosen is the one everyone should take. You may be in a different place. My challenges may not be yours. You may have survived the formative millieu of a similar tradition, or of your life experience, unscathed. (I doubt it, but if you say so…) Or you may not relate to ANY of my experiences but have ended up with similar challenges. Whatever the case, I’m just another well-fed beggar happy to share my bread and the journey. Aren’t we all?
I hope this is a space where we can explore all that is together and learn from each other. As a recovering perfectionist, it makes me itch to think about exposing an evolving process instead of presenting a finished product, but… oh well. It’s where I’m at. Hope you’ll bring your cracked-open self, a large helping of grace, and stick around.
Happy New Year…again,