“Find those who tell you, Do not be afraid, yet stay close enough to tremble with you. This is love.” This poetic and profound truth is written by Cole Arthur Riley in her book, This Here Flesh. I read her book on the airplane as Grant and I flew to Nova Scotia to see our middle child. Her words felt like a gift after the glorious rush of Easter and the subsequent realization that I was tired and needed to feel some of that resurrection power we’d just proclaimed. Riley’s writing is lyrical and compelling. I found myself underlining a lot, making notes in the front pages of the book, re-reading sentences. Here is another gem: “To cultivate habits of rest, we must discern what noise has found a way to penetrate our soul.”
In this season of tumult and division, way too much violence and far too much noise, exhaustion and anxiety are understandable, maybe even inevitable. There are many in our midst, and perhaps we ourselves, who need to know there are people willing to stay close enough to tremble with us. We need others to help us hear what noise has penetrated our souls. Just this week two people voiced their utter exhaustion to me. One said that they’ve been gutting it out the last two years and they simply have nothing left. Sound familiar?
I wish I could say that soon the war in the Ukraine will end. I wish I could say with assurance, “Just hang in a little longer, soon our country will weave the fabric of its corporate life back together.” I wish I could know in my bones that soon whatever grief you are carrying or loss you are lamenting will come to an end. I can’t. It would not be true, and we all know being human entails weathering the best we can storms big and small. However, I can repeat the admonition repeated often in Scripture: Do not be afraid. And if that is impossible for you right now, know we are one Body, united in Christ, inseparable, therefore we cannot help but tremble together.
I will borrow yet again from Cole Arthur Riley’s beautiful book and remind you that, “Sometimes the appropriate response to desperation is to do the unthinkable. Close your eyes.” Rest for awhile without apology or embarrassment or excuse and then when you are ready, open your eyes, notice beauty, do what you can with what you have, turn down the noise you can control, and repeat. Try not to be afraid and know we are here to tremble with you because we love you.