Monday, January 7, 2013

At the End of This Swaying, Fraying Rope

There’s a level of desperation around our house these days.  Winter has set in and we’re cramped and snotty, sneezing and feverish.  We’re making daily trips to the store for things we forgot and debating who should go to the Dr. next as we shuffle endless loads of laundry from basket to washer to dryer and back to the basket again. 

It feels like an endless game of “whack-a-mole” as I field phone calls and drop offs and trips to the library then turn to see one twin chewing on the now-empty bottle of infant Ibuprophen.  As I run to call poison control, hurdling the baby gates like an Olympic athlete, I realize I can’t even be sure who drank the medicine, so I run back to check both boys over, frantically searching for tell-tale sticky hands and berry-flavored breath.  Thankfully, it was "not a toxic dose."
I called the Dr. yesterday morning about our son who’s running a high fever after two days of antibiotics and left the wrong birth date on the message.  I thought it was wrong as I said it and tried to correct myself, so in the end the message went something like this, “His birthday is 8.11.2011.  Or wait, that’s not right, it might be 8.10.2011.  I’m sorry, I really can’t remember right now.”
I'm at the end of my rope, you see, hanging here white-knuckled with fingers grasped tight. As I dangle, gasping for breath, waiting for things to stop spinning, I'm reminded of Eugene Peterson's translation of Jesus' first Beatitude,
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
This, of course, catches me up short.  Blessed, right here, right now, dangling, struggling, sagging with nowhere to go.  Blessed because the end of me is not the end of everything, only the beginning of something more, Someone more. 
I'm reminded too of something I read a few months ago in Scott Cairns' book, Short Trip to the Edge (which I also wrote about HERE).  Cairns is an Orthodox Christian and writes briefly about the role of a prayer rope, a string of 33 square knots that are used to focus the fingers and mind during prayer.  As Cairns puts it, the prayer rope "does its bit to re-pair the inherent schism within the human person, [it] helps to  . . . bring the mind into the heart (36)."   
As I reflected on this image the idea came to me that prayer itself is like the weaving of a rope that leads us deep into the heart of God where we are anchored and at rest.  The rope woven through prayer is so different than the one I work my way along most days.  I struggle daily along the rope of my own striving like a scrawny adolescent in gym class trying to perfect the hand-over-hand technique necessary for upward momentum.  This rope, the end of which dangles before me daily, is one of my own making, my striving, my success or failure. 

But the rope of prayer begins where that one ends and leads downward out of myself or perhaps deeper in to the place where Christ now dwells in my heart as I asked him to all those long years ago.  This rope of prayer, when I tend it and mend it, leads me to the places of deep blessedness and true security.
Once again I lower my expectations and ease myself down off of so many cliffs of my own making. I sit down, sink down into grace and love and with every prayer I find the courage to let go one more time, to lean-in to the blessedness. 

Here I am, again, at the end of me; here I am, again, blessed.

4 comments:

  1. Kelly, thanks for this.
    As a person with disabilities who's often conscious of my own bodily fragility, I have also conceptualized living by faith as living on the edge—maybe a different sort of edge from the one you live on, but an edge nonetheless. So I can relate to what it feels like to live on the edge.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Jeremy. I think all of us live close to the edge in one way or another yet we're very good at hiding it from ourselves and others. I copied down this poem a long time ago,
      "Come to the edge," Life said.
      They said, "We are afraid."
      "Come to the edge," Life said.
      They came. It pushed them . . .
      And they flew. (Christopher Logue)
      Peace to you, Jeremy!

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  2. I love Scott Cairns. And this visual? You give me something to hold onto. Thank you for that.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Laura. I don't know how you make time to read all the links! I feel so overwhelmed when I start clicking through them, such a wide variety of voices.

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