Archive for February 25th, 2018

Lent: Who Are You?

amywink February 25th, 2018

And Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”
Matthew 14: 29-30

This question was in my Disciple workbook last week: “Who are you?” I laughed and I found myself thinking instead about who I used to be and where I had gone, what had happened, how I was returning. Partly, I was thinking about this because I found myself doing something that I would not have imagined myself doing, leading a discussion on Adam Hamilton’s Moses for my church, in a group of people I barely knew, at the home of people I did not know, and, perhaps most remarkably, I had volunteered to do it. I didn’t have any fear of doing it, thankfully. I was just surprised that I was doing it, though it seems (from the outside) that it would be an easy thing for me to do, after all, I’m a professor, right? It did not seem very remarkable, not like walking on water. There wasn’t even any wind.

And it went well. I enjoyed the deep conversation, the lively banter and laughter, and I loved guiding the tumultuous conversation toward the ideas we needed to think about. Because I was doing the thing I am meant to be doing, and I knew it. Here was part of the who that I am. But I had forgotten her, not the teacher, not the educator, but the person who could go into a group of strangers, who could step out onto that dangerous water and walk without thinking of the wind.

I talked with my friend Caroline about this later, exploring who we used to be, what had happened to make us less likely to step out of our quiet, reserved places–the damage that had been done. I used to read my papers at conferences with other scholars. I answered questions about my work. I engaged in rigorous debate. I used to be able to read my poetry in front of a crowd of strangers. I used to be daring in a very different way until I could simply no longer afford it (the cost or the criticism) and I withdrew from that public life. I had plenty to manage in my private life, the caring for my parents, the caring for myself. I’d had enough. I had other work to do. I turned to other work.

The hardest part of that work is completed now and I am moving in new directions. I am sometimes startled by where I am going, how I am moving. “I never approach people,” I told someone this fall. And yet now I am always approaching. I am moving, shifting, growing. I am also returning to the person I used to be, the person I forgot but who has also always endured.