December 15, 2009

when i was a little kid apparently i jumped off of, well, everything.  my mom later told me that a fateful leap that broke my leg probably saved my life.  until then, i had exhibited no signs of fear.  The sort of shock and pain of a hard-landing helped me to have a little more respect for gravity.

but i’ve only recently learned my mom was wrong.  that was the day my life was put in serious jeopardy.

it was the first cycle of what would later become a pattern – risk, fail, fear, mistrust, withdrawal.  sadly, too many things in my family, my relationships, my hopes reinforced the feeling of being left in pieces.  the only way to survive being human, i thought,  was to no longer feel or care or love.  A psychiatrist would later simply remark in an assessment, “high proclivity toward intellectual risks; almost none for emotional ones.”

no more jumping.  i didn’t want to feel anything.

to be honest, as much as we insulate and isolate ourselves, control is an illusian and life will throw you off a ledge.  I am no exception.  When I got packed up in the back of blue chevy, with a swollen knee and a pair of crutches, (i was post-op on a knee surgery that came after 24 years of mis-alignment caused by that pesky broken leg) I was terrified.  When I arrived at a house on North Point Rd, with a family who I didn’t know well enough to have trusted and tested, I felt like I had just jumped off of a very high ledge.  Every part of me was afraid, but I was so happy to feel something again; to stop pretending i didn’t need anyone – even if i was afraid.

fast forward almost 5 years…standing on the neighbors dock of that same road, I stared at a girl who just lost her mother. She is much too young to know how deeply something can hurt – and I could see the enormity of the loss in her eyes and the numbness: so I did what any clear-thinking adult would do…I handed her my phone and jumped off of her dock in the middle of winter. I told her to make her own memories, which was apparently the echo of her mother’s voice. I wanted her to know it’s ok to jump again, to feel something, even if it hurt and was cold.  My biggest fear is not that she will feel the crushing weight of that loss but that she will choose not to feel it….and conclude life is too exhausting and painful and dangerous to try to fly.

“Blessed are those who mourn”  Jesus said; which negates the “blessed are those who avoid pain and tragedy” gospel we tell.  Mourning, and failure, and loss, and disappointment, and fear are an invitation and a gift from God…”because we will be comforted.”

and in being comforted, we learn that it’s ok to risk in love, to trust people, to consider God might be pursuing us, that we were never meant to be alone.

in mourning and in being comforted, we remember how to jump.


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