The Courage to Be

To be is to be vulnerable. To be is to live life on the edge, outside the comfort zone of those “well-worn words and ready phrases that build comfortable walls against the wilderness.” (Conrad Aiken) Theologian Paul Tillich wrote a marvelous book on this subject entitled, “The Courage to Be” in which he related this matter to Jahweh’s Old Testament declaration, “I am that I am” or “I am the Being One.” And it does take courage to venture into “be-ing” in our life and not merely living it on automatic pilot.

T. S. Eliot described this vulnerability as “an infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing.” Life is so fragile and we know this in the depth of our hearts but are mercifully spared too much awareness of this vulnerability. Eliot noted, “Human kind cannot bear too much reality.” And it is good that we know that we can’t and know how to find “fig leaves” to hide this nakedness most of the time. But it is so important to know that the “fig leaf” is there and to take it off occasionally and find that God will meet us there.

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