Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Our Vulnerability, We Find our God

November leaves turn crisp and musical, carpeting the roads and sidewalks, calling to be kicked. The cold of winter descends in the north, and we turn our hearts to the coming of the dark days of winter.

Our lives pass in seasons, both in our bodies and in our souls. Humans are born vulnerable. We are exposed at the moment of our birth, and we never quite manage to cover up completely. This is good. In our vulnerability and need we meet each other. In our transparency, we meet the Spirit of God.

When we empty ourselves of all our immediate coverings, our things and our worries, we open ourselves most powerfully to God. When there is nothing to hold on to and eternity lies ahead, when pain rips open the scars we’ve built for ourselves, when nothing at all stands between us and our fears, we paradoxically find ourselves most present to God. And once touched, we carry that knowledge with us everywhere.

When I reflect on the people I know who are most willing to ignore the condemnation of society and the ridicule of critics to embrace the poor and the marginalized, I find it no surprise that they are always people with a strong sense of the divine. These are our peacemakers and hope givers, our servants and our lights. They have made their vulnerability a strength and found a way to see past their own present to a future where all belong and all are embraced by God. Let those who have eyes to see, see…

People like Chris Hedges, Liz Berrigan, Bob Holmes, John Dear, Art Laffin, Sr. Ardeth Platte, Sr. Carol Gilbert, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Roy Bourgeois, Dwyer Sullivan, and so many, many others are not saints or magical people, simply those who have, in their vulnerability, seen something bigger, greater, and more wonderful: love. This is a tangible love, a defenseless one that builds community, friendship, humor, peace, and inevitably, faith. By its very existence, despite setbacks and failures, it builds the Kingdom of God.

As I struggle to remove the blinders from my own eyes and the muzzle from my lips, I look to their example. I wonder how to follow the call of God. I wonder how to accept my failures. I strive, weakly, to set my fears aside.

And there, in weakness, in vulnerability, in trepidation, I find it all – the keys to the kingdom: faith, hope and love. I pray my eyes will always be open to them.

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