Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leave Nothing Undared

Leave nothing undared.

There are the words in bas-relief spurring on the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Life sized statues of sturdy men cast in bronze sit astride horses, crucifixes strung around their necks as they prepare to ride out from their memorial wall into the vast expanse of Southern Texas preaching nothing but Christ crucified. It is written of these Fathers who galloped the Word west––“Specialists in the most difficult missions.”

I sit on the flagstone before them, pen in hand, copying down my indictment. I am a specialist only in myself, in the whiny self-help-why-am-I-not-happy-most-difficult mission-of-don’t-worry-be-happy. Thinking, as I often and inevitably do, that it is all about me. Then some men wearing clerical collars to proclaim their vocation, and wide brimmed hats to prevent sunstroke, gallop out of the year 1849 alongside the words, “Strive to be saints.”

On horses sweating and briny in the humid Texas summers, they brought Holy Manna to the poor and the Son crucified to the hungry. And, slowly, no faster than the beast and spirit could carry them, they rode the Word throughout this continent and onto others.

Leave nothing undared. The words flare at me like a mare’s hot nostrils. I have spent the past year pawing at my life, fuming like a wild colt confined. I have been stomping in my pen, unable to get my own way, and unable to live with myself not getting what I want. I buck against the circumstances saddled on my back. I refuse to respond to the spurs against my ribs, urging me forward and into the open journey. Instead, I kick up dirt, tossing my head, neighing blame at everyone in sight, and refuse to live my dingy stall.

This weight on my back, this load I stagger under is the yoke that should be light, the burden that should be lifted because of the One who chose to leave nothing undared. The One Pleasing and Beloved chose to trust, to set aside his own will, to set aside the cup of his own choosing for another set before him, to allow a greater will to reign on earth as it will.

I cling to my will as though it were saddle and bridle, rider and horse, sun and North Star. I confine my life to a map, bristling up against reality. The representation of a place is not the thing itself. A map is not terrain. The contour of a life cannot remain a blot of ink.

Leave nothing undared the Oblates demand. I stare at the determined faces of these immortalized men and wonder if I have dared anything at all. If they stepped out of bronze into flesh, would I have the courage to follow them? Would I be bold enough to develop equine sense, to allow a rider on my back to guide my journey? Could I let go of expectations that keep me trapped and static? Could I plod along, sometimes trotting, sometimes galloping, sometimes roped to a tree, not knowing where I might end up?

O spirit of the men who strove and rode to be saints, and spirit of the animal who partnered with them, let me dare, like you. Help me to cultivate such inner strength and outer conviction that I will not be undone by life’s circumstances. Let me accept, no not accept, but embrace the paths that change that sway and divert the best-laid plans. Let me live into and out of your story, and into and out of my story, and into and out of God’s ongoing story of redemption that leaves nothing undared.