Up Close And Personal

Sometimes things look a lot more put together and beautiful from farther away.  

From a distance, the basket of flowers on my front porch look dazzling and perfect, but when I move in and inspect them from a few inches away, I can see the blemishes on the petals, and the individual flowers that have begun to brown.  

The closer I get, the more I am able to see them as they really are.  

It's then that I have a choice to make.  I can choose to remain close and aware of their blemishes and find beauty in them anyway, or I can keep my distance and maintain an unmarried (and incomplete) view of them.  

The poet Mary Oliver wrote of this choice in her poem "The Ponds." She acknowledges that close proximity brings a more intimate relationship, but it's sometimes tempting to simply hold the world at arm's length.  

Still what I want in my lifeis to be willing to be dazzled--to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe evento float a little above this difficult world. 

I think that many of us struggle with this very thing when it comes to our faith.  We worry that if others get to close to us, they will see our flaws, and will realize that we're not always as we appear to be.  

And as a result, we lose sight of the beauty in our struggle.  We forget how important it has been for us not to always know what we believe, but to keep following anyway.  We begin to think that the only thing that matters is how we look from a distance.  

Bob Goff recently wrote, "...when what our faith looks like becomes more important than what it is, it's evidence we've forgotten who we really are." 

If you've been holding the world at arm's length in order to avoid the vulnerability that comes with intimacy, practice letting down your guard today.  Worry less about the appearances of your faith and focus more on the substance.  See the beauty in your struggle.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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