Do you think I know what I am doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.
Came across this from Rumi this past weekend while waiting for a wedding to get started.
More “your life is none of your business” Hopkin’s wisdom.
Activity scurrying around me helter skelter as I sat on a bench under a tree with branches swaying in a gentle breeze, feeling that cool breeze, even as the engines of planes bombing wildfires droned in the distance. Experiencing a sense of peace, of calmness, of being carried, of being borne.
A borne identity.
So much of life seems much more flavored with Bourne Identity textures – a blur of motion and movement, conflict, questions, lies, betrayal, searching, maneuvering, calculating, fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting and hopefully surviving…and in the case of this wedding, a cake that collapsed at the last moment due to overexposure to the heat, the top tier of the cake – along with bride and groom perched perilously thereupon – tumbling unceremoniously to the ground, the groom’s head being severed in the process. Not an auspicious beginning. Fresh scurrying to salvage what was left and come up with Plan B — and to reattach the groom’s head.
Oh to swap Bourne for borne…
Sitting under that tree waiting for things to get going – and for the cake to be reassembled – I strolled through the story of Ruth since that’s the story I would be relating in the wedding. What a case study in being borne, in bearing the borne identity – a case study of a rhythmic, jellyfish dance of self-propulsion within a moving current. There are clear movements in the story – moves from Israel to the fields of Moab and back again. Of Naomi sending Ruth out to glean, and of it just so happening that Ruth picks the field of a near kinsman redeemer; of Boaz ensuring that Ruth was protected and provided for; of Naomi urging Ruth to seize an opportune moment, and Ruth readily doing so, followed in suit by Boaz.
Wondrous initiative. A story with delightful turns from a background of chaos through present distress to blessing and future significance. But reading it I wasn’t left with a sense of “you can make your life whatever you want it to be” or some other such pointed “pick yourself up and just get going” inspirational talk such as we might hear at a leadership conference in our upbeat corporate culture.
We aren’t self made people.
We don’t know what we are doing (though we are rarely short on advice as to how everyone else should be doing whatever it is they are doing).
We are borne.
That’s the word that hung in the air before me. φερόμενοι (fer-OH-men-oy). It’s the Greek word Peter uses to describe the prophets of old as they were “borne” or “carried” about by the Holy Spirit. φερόμενοι is a present passive participle. Present, ongoing, repeated action. Passive. Passive. We are carried beings. We are borne.
None of the “holy men of old” set out to be great prophets or to write what would become great prophetic books that would be preserved and read for millennia. They were borne about on a wind that they did not understand to places they could not foresee leaving a mark they could not imagine.
You did not choose me. I chose you.
As much as we might wish to think we are the architects of our own destiny masterfully composing the final suite of the sweeping narrative of our existence, we aren’t. We know what it is that we write, or, rather, what is being written through us on life’s gilded page, only in retrospect, only from the vantage point of eternity, really. And those pens write best that yield themselves fully to the Hand that would wield them.
As much as we would imagine we are orchestrating a masterful slam dunk in our self-perceived and launched purpose driven life, our life resembles more a ball that has no idea where it’s bouncing next.
No wonder such a thought would terrify us. So much trust in the Hand that wields us, that writes life through us, that bounces us so unpredictably from one unforeseen scene to the next.
What terrifying freedom to embrace the reality of such a borne identity…