Trust makes us vulnerable, but it opens the heart to the riches of each moment.
A dear friend, Brenda Sue, gave me The Book of Awakening by poet Mark Nepo. In it, each day of the year has a written reflection, but sometimes I choose to range through the daily pages like a treasure hunter glorying in the gems I have found. Nepo ends each page with a way to metaphorically breathe in the idea, matched with our physical breathing in and out. It becomes a bodily experience for the whole self.
For example, one message talks about how faith has courage to risk and to receive. Years ago, my seminary professor said that in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), “faith” literally means “trust.” So fundamentally faith is not a set of beliefs. Rather it is basic trust in the Sovereign God who sustains us in life and holds us in love.
Whenever we trust someone or trust life in a given moment, we unlock our defenses against experiencing something more deeply. But opening up to someone or to a new experience makes me vulnerable to being hurt. It also acknowledges that I’m not self-sufficient or independent. While we know this is true, admitting it can be frightening, since ours can be a dangerous world. Yes, I am in charge of my decisions, but I am also influenced by how I’ve been raised, by people who influence me, by where and when I live, and by what happens all around me in the world. I am not in charge of my life. I’m a creature with limits as well as possibilities.
For those who believe in God, faith/trust can be hugely powerful. As Jesus said, even faith as small as a tiny mustard seed is enough to move mountains! (Matthew 17:19-21) Whether we use the word “faith” or “trust,” opening ourselves to life can bring greater intimacy with the One who has given us life and sustains us with every breath we take. I admit such openness of heart is not a constant thing. It comes only in certain moments. But the more often I break down my internal defenses, even in the smallest aspects of living, the more I experience God’s real presence surrounding me and saturating life all around me. And the more enriching, qualitative moments I am able to take in.
On one date in Nepo’s book, for example, he admits how many hours he has spent as a writer trying to get published, or pursuing the “right” publisher, or trying to achieve something else he imagined would make him feel worthy in the eyes of others. But he says, “None of that effort, even when successful, brought me any closer to the pulse of life that writing uncovered for me in the first place.”1
The pulse of life. Ah, that’s the thing. Trust is always in the now, never in the future. Near-endless endeavors such as Nepo reported imply that life – the best life, the beautiful life – is better somewhere else than it is here. When we run after dreams of success, chase the imagined love of our lives, or look for the perfect missing piece in who think we are, it keeps us from opening our hearts to the beauty of life in the here and now.
May you find some facet of life this day where you can trust a bit more, unfolding your heart to life’s radiant treasure of Now.
1 – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, p. 314.