Monday afternoon dawned clear and cold, so I made my way to Great Falls Park. Just as I was setting out upon the trail, a man hailed me and ran to catch up with me. Pointing across the river to the opposite bank, he asked me, “Lady, how do I get there?” My heart sank. You see, the river is probably only a couple hundred feet wide, but there is no easy way to cross it. To get from the Maryland side to the Virginia side, you need to get back in your car, drive some country roads back to the highway, cross the river on a bridge, and then drive more country roads, by which point you will have travelled several miles just to end up two hundred feet from where you started.
All too often, new life is like that. We decide we no longer want to live as we are; we believe we can see where we must go; but there is no simple or easy way to get there from here. The problem is that we need to leave our current self behind in order to grow into a new and richer way of being in the world.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus said, “Unless one is born anew, one cannot see the Kingdom of God.” The metaphor directs our attention to the attainment of a new identity, a life that comes to us, not by our own work, but as sheer gift, that first breath always shocking upon our new-born lungs. We must, indeed be born again, each day and each minute of our lives, leaving behind what is futile, what constrains us, and straining towards what will make us fully alive.
David Whtye writes,
You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
There is no bridge from our current humanity to the one we must attain except the living bridge of Christ, dwelling in us, breathing on us, creating us new each day. And we cannot make the bridge happen; we can only let Christ happen in us, growing gently as dawn, throwing light on all the dark corners, until the dawns and the night seems but a dream.