See-through: Climbing Into Vulnerability

See-through: Climbing Into Vulnerability
To love at all is to be vulnerable.
— C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

A meditation on: 

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God ... emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross!
(Phil. 2:5-7)

The Expectation

I am supposed to be strong, for you. Strong, like this oak. He stands so tall. He doesn't slouch. His bark patterns up and down, all around, impenetrable. The storm wind sways his upper reaches, but his roots do not shift. 

Strength, they say, protects like oak bark. Strength, they say, fights behind the hard-wood-iron of impenetrability. Don't show your cry. Don't show your cracks. Don't show your rot. 

I am lost in a forest of people-oaks; made ugly by the lie of strength. 

The Climb

I need to see this forest, beyond the trees. And so I climb this oak here, toward something I see way up high. It looks like light. 

The bark splinters, the pitch wearies, but something happens to me as I ascend. I start seeing branches, with their little limbs shooting out into the air. They surround me. I rest on this one here, and look up.

It is light that I see. It hits the thin fronds. They change in the shine. They turn from somber in the shadows to something unexpected. 

They, altogether, become a vision. Each solitary leaf creates a composite scene of glowing suns. I look down and see how the dark grey bark vanishes into the explosion of light within the limbs. I tilt my head and see a spider's web caught between limbs. It bounces. The dew drops slide into one another and drip into the light. I fondle the acorns dangling in gentle grasp; now swinging, now falling, new life given from the heights. I sit within the explosion of sun; in the joy of morning air pushing softly to and fro. 

So delicate are the wonders of limbs.

The Discovery

I am supposed to be strong, for you; for my wife, for my pixie daughters. I am to be this oak. And I am, but not in the way of impenetrable bark and strength of wood. 

I am strong like this vision of light. It makes leaves see-through. It shines bark into the thrill of glory. It invites. It exposes. It gives.

I am strong, like this oak. My bark protects because my limbs dance in delight. My hard-wood-strength gives spider webs confidence to bounce. My height invites explosions of sun within my leaves.

I am strong, because I create space for the weak. 

I am strong because life feels safe within my limbs. 

I am strong because my growth does not depend on me. 

I am strong because high up in the morning air, I sway, gentle and free. 

I am strong because I am unafraid to show my burden for life and love. 

Longing For More: A Daily Devotional Resource

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Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.