Day sixteen of a daily meditation, a practice of free writing on words of Advent this season...
a) capable of being physically
or emotionally wounded;
b) open to attack or damage.
"In becoming man for us, Christ made himself
totally vulnerable for us in Jesus of Nazareth,
and it is not possible to be a Christian
while refusing to be vulnerable...
I love, therefore I am vulnerable...
to grow up is to accept vulnerability."
~ Madeleine L'Engle
Vulnerability takes different forms. It can bear down in crushing blows, as we have seen so devastatingly in the news.
It's sobering and heavy, even confusing, to think of this word, vulnerable, in light of the attacks of the last week on innocent people. And in light of the reality that so much of our world lives in, each day, barely covered in the headlines, if at all: in the form of war, disease, abuse, sex trafficking, poverty, hunger, corruption, imprisonment, slavery. Open to attack or damage. Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded. How this weighs on my heart tonight, pushing down words. I struggle for something to say.
And then there's the vulnerability of choosing to love. Of letting ourselves be known as we are, and in doing so, we are capable of being wounded, open to attack. We choose whether the risk and pain of being vulnerable is worth the cost. In our humanity, sometimes, we pull back, barricade ourselves in, self protect. For me, it takes strength beyond myself to live a life of vulnerability, and if it were up to me alone, I'd remain cloistered in a shell from the pain of vulnerable love.
These vulnerabilities I have some sort of frame of reference for, whether or not I ever fully comprehend them - and I don't.
But it's almost beyond my ability to grasp this other reality, that the God of all the universe made himself vulnerable - beginning as a baby, helpless and utterly dependent, who was hunted as an infant by a jealous king intent on killing him. And then, not turning from his vulnerability as a man, but walking straight into it and laying down his life. To think that God has been physically and emotionally wounded. That God has been attacked, his body maimed, his soul in anguish. This is a grittier picture than that of a babe sleeping peacefully in a bed of sweet hay. God knew exactly what he was getting into every step of the way, and he never turned back.
And this is how we are to be. Vulnerable.
In the sense that, to love is to be vulnerable.
That to be real in relationship with others is to be vulnerable.
That even to be human is to be vulnerable.
We can choose to stay safe, closed off, insulated, unknown - but this is not the way of maturity. It's not the way of love. It's not the way of Christ.