Friday, September 2, 2011
Clutching Mystery in Our Hands 1
God is always trying to give good things to us but our hands are too full to receive them.
~ St. Augustine
These words from St. Augustine have been scrolling through my mind since I read them yesterday. We are often busy gathering, accumulating, processing things daily with arms and hands laden. Sometimes we do not even know what we have. We become masters at cross-training, demanding not singularity to one task, but multitasking as the rule in a high-performance culture.
When I was learning to drive a standard transmission as a young girl in my grandfather's pickup that resembled the one above, multitasking eluded me. My temptation was to keep one foot on the clutch, afraid to fully let off, fearing the car would die, and I would suffer that embarrassing lunging, choking halt in public. Ridin' the clutch, they called it in South Mississippi.
I had not developed the seamless transition of moving through gears rhythmically that my brothers generated when they stepped behind the wheel. Clutching was not a problem; they could even double-clutch with a split-second gear change.
We have to know when to give it gas and when to back off.
We can't stay on accelerate all the time, even while depressing the clutch as a safety valve.
There is a necessary rhythm of releasing, letting go, then applying the needed force.
Our clutching, similarly, can be an attempt to provide security in others areas of our lives. We grasp, holding fast to what we want, afraid to let go. Our hands are so full holding onto what we have that it becomes a default position, figuratively, in life. Each of us comes into this world with clenched fists, and some continue to live that way.
Dr. Maxie Dunnam first taught me years ago the practice of coming to God with open palms. A meaningful posture for me, open-handed praying reminds me to be deliberate in recognizing who I am before God: one coming to be filled with the Spirit of God, emptying myself of all that would stand as a barrier.
My foot is off the clutch.
I will risk sputtering and embarrassment.
Can I honestly say I will risk more than that? I do hope so. But until I practice letting go--letting go of myself and what others think of me and risk being real before God and others--I will not be very good at it. I'll be only an amateur behind the wheel.