“Come to the edge,”
life said.

“We can’t, we’re
afraid!” they replied.

“Come to the edge,”
life said.

“We can’t, we’ll fall!”
they replied.

“Come to the edge,”
life said.

So they came,

and life pushed them,

and they flew.

– Guillaume Apollinaire


“Do you ever realize
how often you feel afraid?”


This is what I asked my husband
the other day as I swept up spilled cat food in our bedroom and he
sat on the bed, watching. We’d gone upstairs to talk about knocking out a wall.

I’d gotten the urge that
morning. Stepping out of the shower, I’d thought, Let’s just knock out
that wall.

The wall in question – which divides our bedroom into a small room main room and a pointless hallway – has been slated for demolition for some time now. But it’s taken a
back seat again and again to more pressing projects, like making a standing
shower and putting in a dishwasher.

Recently, adding a shower to our make-shift downstairs bathroom has been at the top of the to-do list, but progress has been stalled by indecision and the awkward limits of several
poorly placed windows and cast-iron radiators in the room to be remodeled.
Neither of us can think of a layout that makes good use of the space and
doesn’t leave us feeling unsettled. 
In short, we’re afraid to move

Which, looking back, is probably
why I jumped to the more immediate option of knocking out that dang wall.
Knocking out a wall feels so clear, so simple, so satisfying.

Of course, knocking out that
wall will force us to deal with the fact that the ceiling in one part of our
bedroom is lower than the other, as is the floor. And there’ll be radiators and
some wiring to work around. No project in a 100+ year old house is ever simple.

But when you’re feeling afraid,
I’ve found, sometimes you need to just find the nearest edge and jump.


“Do you ever realize how
often you feel afraid?” I asked.

“Sometimes,” I
continued, “it’s like I’m afraid almost all the time.”


Our conversation moved on to
other territory, but here I am, still thinking about fear and its subtle sway.

I’m not talking about
heart-pounding, fight-or-flight fear. But rather the dull constraint of corners
cut out of safety’s concern. The fear of failure, even on the smallest scale.
The fear of even naming the fear that drives us for fear that this too will be
seen as weakness unendurable. A fear so subtle it’s easy to rationalize, easy
to miss.

When I notice this fear in
myself, I try to balance it by asking, “What would love say?” Love
and fear have patently different voices, markedly different concerns.
Sometimes, this question alone, is enough to shake the dark cobwebs and return
me to the life-giving freedom bought by Christ.

Other times, forward motion
helps. Knocking down the closest wall, diving off the nearest edge, and
finding, in the falling, the momentum needed to soar.

Sustainable Spirituality

Sustainable Spirituality

Design a spiritual life that works for your life. Sign up now to receive my FREE GUIDE explaining the top 5 characteristics of sustainable spirituality.

When you get the FREE guide you are also subscribing to Quiet Lights, my bi-monthly email containing contemplative resources and writing.

Thanks for subscribing! Check your email inbox for a link to download the free gift.