Our community is fond of posing the question, “If I were not afraid I would…” I generally respond with well meaning ambiguity, something like, “If I were not afraid I would…love.” Yes, yes, very nice Amy. You’re sweet. Currently, I find myself in one of those rare moments when—though specifics still elude me—I have a clearer idea not only of what I would do, but also of what I am afraid of. So, without further ado:
If I were not afraid—
of the criticism of others
of being dependent
of being a disappointment
of making a mistake
of being rejected (or worse, tolerated)
of hurting or offending
of loving and living deeply—
become fully engaged in community
be less wasteful
go to Arizona and spend at least a week with No More Deaths
write diligently and, Lord willing, truthfully
be willing to risk arrest and to risk more in general
talk more openly to friends and family about my feelings, questions and beliefs
joyfully pursue peace and service
I can’t stop thinking about the reflection exercise Annemarie facilitated at Kairos last night. She asked four questions, waiting after each one until we had an opportunity to respond before moving on to the next. It was a warm, soft-aired night. We were gathered on the porch of the ministry center, many of is in shorts or skirts. I was feeling sleepy from a day full of walks and sunshine, sharing space on a deep-cushioned couch with Claire and John. We split into groups of five or six.
The first question was something to the effect of, “What would you be willing to work your whole life for, to die for?” I was discomfited by my inability to think of an answer. “Life” was the vague response that surfaced. No wonder I am aimless, I thought, I have no great passion. Instead I tread amidst many small passions, each distracting me from the other and from s specific focus through which to channel my energy.
I listened to others in the group: Katie on education, bridging the gaps of unknowing between cultures; John on service and placing the same value on all people; Rachel on non-violence and on end to war; Claire on purity, against violation and all the contributing factors. I caught fragments from the other group as well, Luke finding Jesus in the face of prisoners, and Meg empathic concern for those who suffer from poverty. The most tangible thing I was able to latch onto was waste; particularly food waste.
I had watched Dive earlier this week and it brought back to me much of what I had been studying last year about food and the far reaching effects of our choices about what and how we eat. It is something that consistently stirs me up, grieves me, moves me to want to act. There is where I stop, not knowing what to do, afraid to try. There is so much injustice, ignorance, irresponsibility dishonor, cruel carelessness and even hate (albeit often inadvertent) in waste. I see this as very much tied in with sexuality—its abuse and misuse—service with and for others, violence, lack of education, poverty, spirituality and many other things. It’s a web from which no one strand can be extricated. I see waste, and all these things, essentially as both symptoms of a reverence for life, or the lack thereof. Though I frequently fail to live it with integrity, such reverence is a driving force in formulating how I want to behave and who I want to become. Life, of the capital L variety, is what I live and die for. However, it is difficult to hit the mark when you don’t know where you are aiming.