Both of us needing a space to reconnect with ourselves, to remember the things that beat most truly and passionately within us, to acknowledge the things standing in the way of living from that truest place.We had spent the first twelve hours of our trip talking, a quantity of words that only friends with history and days without demands could allow. We had walked the beach - together and alone - laid in the damp sand and felt the crisp wind blow through our hair as we read and wrote throughout the day. We had relaxed in the beachfront hot tub, slept without an alarm and nourished ourselves well all weekend.
I do not think of myself as a fearful person. If anything, I was the daredevil in my family, giving myself a concussion at seven from trying to stand on my bicycle seat while whizzing down a large hill. Later, I would be the first in my family to travel abroad, flying solo to India for a two month mission trip, and then the first to graduate with a Bachelor's degree, paying my way through school one sixty hour work week at a time. I have lived abroad for years, given numerous speeches, dared to love despite heartbreak.
Many days, I am trying to check all the right boxes to keep my kids safe and close, when in reality I know that life is not nearly that predictable.Perhaps most surprising of all, I found my heart turning with sorrowful longing toward my husband, yearning to love better, regretting not having loved more. I sensed with clarity a level of self-protection and guarded intimacy I have carried in our relationship throughout all our years of marriage. “The other side of the same sword”, as I had journaled - the need to protect for fear of losing.
There I stood, “FEAR” still written large and loud beneath my feet.I quickly became overwhelmed with self-consciousness as rows of people strolled past me. Face burning, I started to panic, wishing I had picked a more private ceremony and a more discreet word. My insides squirmed at being so publicly displayed, my soul written out in large letters for the world to read.
And in standing, I knew that this was the real ceremony. Not the magical, instantaneous disappearing of “FEAR” from my life. Not the effortless washing away of years of self-protection and wounded worries. This - standing awkwardly, uncomfortably, boldly with my fear in hand, displaying my fragility and longing to the world – this was vulnerability, this was intimacy, this was the new way of being I wanted to walk into. This is what it meant to live generously in relationship, not forever free from fear, but courageously pressing on in spite of it.And so I stood - for ten minutes? Twenty? I stood with my discomfort, receiving each and every awkward glance. I breathed in the sting of vulnerability and I waited with my fear in hand. Finally, a brave, strong wave broke all the way up shore and washed away my writing. I watched the letters melt back into the earth, both relieved and disappointed.