It’s beginning to feel like spring – appropriately, since the first day of spring was this week. We’ve been working our garden bed in preparation for planting, I’ve been reading seed catalogues, and cooking a lot more – which doesn’t technically have much to do with spring specifically, but I have been referencing the “spring” section of my Simply In Season cookbook.
This past Sunday we baptized the little Bird at our home. Our church family gathered in our living room to worship together and to witness this moment of promise and commitment. It was humbling to be reminded of this sacred charge of parenting, one lived out in such mundane, tiny, moment-after-moments, with such soul-deep impact. “With the help of God, we will,” as we say in the liturgy. I am grateful for the reminder that we aren’t in this alone.
Last week I had one of my semi-annual insecurity crises about my community life and relationships. I was feeling overwhelmed by all the relationships I felt I had to maintain – neighbours, church family, friends near and far. I think I felt that I had to put on a better version of myself in order to interact with other people in my communities. Parenting has been harder than ever, and I didn’t want all those people witnessing my weakness during this season. My instinct was to pull back, to hide, to retreat. (And briefly resent the moments I was forced to open up, because I’m not particularly mature about it sometimes.) After listening patiently to some late-night processing, my husband gently reminded me that this is what comes with community. This is the invitation to vulnerability and authenticity that returns a reward of intimacy, of trust, of accountability, of support, within any healthy relationship. Even though sometimes I’d rather not be known, for all of my faults.
This reminder sent me from insecurity and fear into a deep appreciation for all the relationships I do have, and all the support I’ve been given, from family near and far, from my DNA group, from my neighbours, from other moms in similar stages, from readers who I only know by their internet presence. I called this my semi-annual insecurity crisis because it does seem to recur when I am working through something big, and I always have more to learn about living graciously with other people. This time, the lesson has much to do with humbly receiving from others in my communities. I feel rather needy right now, and I don’t really like that feeling. I prefer the moral superiority of being the giver, if I am perfectly honest, and shy away from the position of receiving. Humility has always been a difficult lesson for me.
In this frame of mind, I decided it was time to tackle Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. From the very first paragraph, I was humbled all over again, as he reminds the reader that [Christian] community is a privilege gifted to some but not all – many live without the daily fellowship of other Christians. As such, it should cause us to give thanks daily, for the smallest blessings of community, before looking with expectancy for grander instances, or complaining about the costs of close fellowship. This is all the more compelling when I remember Bonhoeffer was part of an underground Christian community in Nazi Germany before being martyred by the Gestapo for opposing Hitler. Bonhoeffer writes with such stern clarity, I am challenged out of my self-centred insecurities on every page. And re-infused with joy, for all of these blessings and more!