A typical conversation between Morag and myself these days goes like this:
Morag: “You are looking pale Kenny.”
Kenny: “No, I’m not.”
Morag: “Yes you are, what’s wrong?”
Morag: “…and your hands are shaking…”
Kenny: “No, they’re not!”
Morag: “…and you are breathless…”
Kenny: “No, I am not. I am fine…”
The thing is that though I mostly feel well enough as it were, when Morag sees these things happening she is usually right! There is an insight that is part of true love, and I have a rock like assurance that Morag truly loves me. In fact I am sure that she loves more than I am yet able to love myself despite encountering the grace of God. I am not sure why often I will deny need, weakness, not feeling well, but I do, and hide it even from love. However, love sees….
Yesterday was a good day health wise but by mid-afternoon I felt tired and with that comes a certain vulnerability because not everything about me is as well as I would like. I asked Jesus last night how He saw me and He seemed to help me look through His eyes at myself. I saw myself in sculpture form hugging the contours of a tree trunk, perfectly camouflaged, perfectly blended in to the rings and shape and colour of the wood, trying to avoid detection even by the eyes of Christ. I was aware as “I” in Christ looked at “me” in the sculpture, that the sculpted me knew the eyes of Christ’s love had seen me, and Christ was quietly waiting for that sculpted me to realise it was safe for Him to see me. (As I said above, why I deny it or try and hide it from him at times, I have no idea… well actually as soon as I wrote that I realise that partly through thoughts that have come to me during this illness I do now have one or two inklings as to why I do that, but that is for another day… if I share it at all. It is as though He is willing to share the insights into me that His love gives Him) Last night I knew He could see through the camouflage, and gradually in the work of art I risked moving, almost wanting now to be seen, for I felt I was in the presence of safe compassion. I moved and He stayed still. I moved again and he stayed still, knowing I needed time even with Him to feel safe. Then He stooped and ever so gently followed my contours with the touch of his hand, ministering safety, protection, a sense that everything was deeply and eternally all right: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)
There were other aspects to that “picture” which were just for me which it would be wrong to share but I am happy to share a general message which may be true of you as well as me: this is not a world in which weakness fares too well; it can often be trampled on; sometimes it needs to hide. I hope that perhaps beginning today you will let Christ see you and feel safe knowing He looks at you with the compassionate and the wisest insight of eternal love. Allow yourself be seen by Him.Try and take the camouflage off in His presence and then in the strength of being loved by Him, may you find with increasing boldness that you don’t have to hide from yourself, and may you feel safer when you are with other people too.
Make some time to listen to Henri Nouwen. Thanks to George Wilson for sending this link.