Written by Katrina Martin
When I was ten, I wanted to be a basketball player. My dad had installed a net in our driveway, and after spending a week shooting hoops for maybe an hour per night, I was convinced I would be the next great female baller. Me, a tiny wisp of a ten year old with no real athletic bone in my body, not to mention any real conception of how the game actually worked. It was a short-lived dream.
Over the next few years, I had many dreams spark and quickly fizzle. I wanted to play tennis, be a talk show host, own one hundred dogs, and once – after watching a particularly evocative documentary on endangered grizzly bears – I wanted to be a “bear person.”
To be called flighty is not a compliment, but I admit to having tendencies of this sort. I am quickly inspired and just as quickly distracted. I love change, and the word “next” is honey on my tongue. Consequently, my life brims with adventure, and I may even be described as exciting.
I bounce from place to place and not only seek after the unfamiliar and uncomfortable — I thrive in it. It’s awesome; I am glad I have been created this way for many reasons, but every personality has unfortunate pitfalls.
The bitter truth for me comes in the word faithfulness. Extroverted as I am, I pride myself in meeting people easily and having a network of friends that stretches around the globe. I claim to love people easily, but in truth I love only their silhouettes. I tend to choke on the fact that real love – Jesus-type love – requires terrifying closeness and the bravery to stay. Faithfulness.
There is a poem by Robert Bringhurst called “These Poems” in which a woman accuses an artist of his poems not having “a strand of love in them.” If his poems have any love, she says, they only love the “wide blue sky, and the air, and the idea of elm leaves.” In other words, hazy exclamations about things which are easy to love from a distance. The poem ends with the poet interrupting the woman’s passionate rant to say,
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.
Though it may sound harsh, the woman is saying that real love sees past beauty to ugliness, and still remains.
On the cross, Jesus saw the grotesque, gut-wrenching realities of human nature and chose to stay — even in going to the fiery hell of the human heart he chose to take up residence so that love might work.
Indeed, we are not called to love shadowy outlines of souls from a distance – rather to stand and stay so close we can see the pores in their faces, the very cracks in their hands.