I read a story a couple of days ago about a man who hugged a whale.
The way he was positioned against the whale made it possible for him to feel her heartbeat as she lay in waist deep water, held up by strangers.
During certain periods in my life certain words hold special meaning, and for me the last few months have been about vulnerability.
I've been forced to become vulnerable and honest with myself and with the people I love. I can feel my body physically responding to the strong emotions my heart is processing, and at times I want to throw my hands up and admit that it's all too much.
I wrote after reading this story that I feel like the whale - 300. I'm almost ready to give up fighting. I'm tired, and my heart aches over stories I hear and can do nothing about and the act of caring literally gets inside of my body. I can't fight the injustices - on a personal or global level - on my own. And I'm psychologically tired as well as physically tired and the only thing I can do is surrender myself into the hands of those gathered around me, to be willing to be vulnerable and trust that these people are here to help me instead of hurt me.
But, I wrote, I also feel like the man. I am aware I am holding something precious in my hands, and I know that we are all connected and that this moment is a gift, even if it is disguised and disfigured at the moment.
Ever since I can remember my grandpa has gotten baby chicks. They are small and fluffy and fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. There are the feisty ones and the quieter ones, the scared and the brave. And this year as I knelt down to pick up a baby chick, all of them huddled together in the corner, I imagined how scared they must be, in a whole new environment and separated from their mothers. To them, I am just another giant shadow, another large hand scooping them up out of what they know. They don't know that I only wish to hold them. There was something almost victorious about the moment when one baby chick fell asleep in my hands.
The vulnerability expressed by that chick, that whale, it makes me wonder if humans really are the best in the animal kingdom.
Because even though I know now the benefits of being vulnerable, something in me is still hesitant. The idea of radical honesty, with others and myself, is still terrifying.
The past few months for me have been another journey into vulnerability. It's uncomfortable, and exhausting. I feel like 300, knowing in a way that the only way to survive the aching of the teaching process is to stop fighting it and breathe. I feel like the baby chick, knowing I must trust the hands that hold me. I feel like the man, knowing that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves and in my hands I hold a gift.
If caring too much is the thing that is splitting open my heart, I suppose there are worse ways to be broken open.
So be it, Lord, may I be broken for love's sake