“Fortitude presupposes vulnerability; without vulnerability there is no possibility of fortitude. An angel can not be brave because he is not vulnerable. To be brave actually means to suffer injury. Because man is by nature vulnerable, he can be brave.” (Four Cardinal Virtues, 117).
The Lord’s resurrected hands are empty; there are holes in his hands. His brave heart is manifested by these access points of mercy. Yet, it is possible to see these openings and be wholly disappointed as the scars aren’t healed and the holes aren’t closed. It’s easy to foolishly believe the transformation is incomplete.
He is able to be brave because he is vulnerable; he suffered because He cared. His wounds illuminate His glory and allow His life giving water to flow. From the Father’s heart, his holy hands pour forth amazing grace as the physical reminder of the spiritual reality. He wholly offered himself up so that we might believe our wounds too will transcend reality and be invitations, and reminders, of His transformative love. May we imitate the Lord as we surrender the holes in our lives to be transformed and filled by God’s glory and grace. May our scars remind us we are brave.
I got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire
These wounds are a story you’ll use
hope reminds me that i’ll hold your hand
It’s easy to look at the end result and blitz passed the process that yielded the outcome. In sports, it’s the highlight reel and in relationships, it’s the Instagram moment. In careers, it’s the promotion and in academics, it’s the degree. We climb the ladder of success seeking mountain top moments without realizing the joy of the journey is not merely found at the destination.
Similarly, for those who dare to journey, it’s easy to miss what’s happening along the way. Hypertrophy is “the increase in volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its component cells.” Coaches author programs with many reps and sets to increase each athlete’s time under tension in order to bring about hypertrophy, a process not an event.
How does the heart grow? The Lord provides opportunities, sometimes repetitious situations, that allow us to grow in virtue so that we may be more faithful, trusting, and loving. It’s easy to feel fatigue and muscle failure and burn out because we haven’t “arrived” at the goal. Similar to repping out push-ups, pull-ups, or mile repeats, practice allows us to grow. Trusting teaches us to trust; heart hypertrophy is the process and result of that increase in trust. Though the circumstances may not be what we would choose, let us allow the experience of darkness and silence to increase our trust in He who is trustworthy.
I’m thankful for the scars because without them I wouldn’t know your heart
If you say to trust, I will obey
Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you
A group of elementary school students got off a school bus at the rest stop. They instinctually gathered in formation and started a choreographed routine welcoming their classmates in the next bus that pulled up. Their joy spilled forth in rhythm as they stepped in time.
A student from our group prompted one of his classmates to join the children. The children embraced our student as he joined their circle; our students snapped the photos for Instagram. The freeze frame suggested a meaningful encounter that our student initiated and embraced. Seeing the setup, though, contradicted the reality. Perhaps, contradicted is too strong a word. At the very least, it expanded the reality beyond the portrayal and sentimentality.
Sometimes, we read situations through a lens of what we assume to be reality without ever questioning the set-up. Other times, we orchestrate and edit to crop situations to what we desire to portray or what we think is desired of us. Watching the scene unfold, compared to the still frame, it was the elementary students joy that was magnetic – not the forced participation of one of our students. This is not a call to be cynical of what we view; however, it is an invitation to question if we see through the lens of reality or our assumptions.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day
Many of us are blessed with a mother, or mother figure, who has encouraged us to pursue our dreams – especially in the midst of obstacles. Despite our initial enthusiasm, situations that seemingly stonewall momentum might cause us, in our blindness, to question if the dream’s worth the frustration and disappointment. Our original crystal clear vision of both our destination and our motive are obscured by the obstacles in the way. Perhaps, though, what we assume to be in the way is merely on the way.
As Mary walked alongside her Son, she did not remove Pontius Pilate’s judgment, which crowned Him with thorns and nailed Him to a tree. She watched and waited and stood. By her presence, she reminded her Son that His hopes and dreams were worth it. Though appearing to be the stone to the tomb of His death, she trusted it would be rolled away as the stone of His resurrection. As she demonstrated at His cross, and as she instructed the waiters at the wedding feast, when we “do whatever He tells (us),” He will save the best for last.
Mama said, “Don’t give up!”
There’d be days like this
They said it would come. It did.
They said it would leave. I’m waiting.
As the radar predicts at least two more weeks, the permacloud lingers over South Bend. There are stretches when it is conceivable to forget the sun exists as the grey backdrop cloaks the town in this seeming soul sucking reality. However, just because I do not see the sun it does not mean that the sun fails to exist.
Even when He seems silent and far, He is near. What do you believe when all feels lost? What do you see when all appears grey? How do you respond to the clouds and the rain? Even in the darkness, we can shine a light.
You got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day
Life is short; make it sweet.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
We usually associate standing on the sidelines with sitting out as the highlight reel hardly pans to those standing beyond the boundaries of play. Yet, an argument could be made for the importance of those on the side. Often 11 guys take the field but there are 99 others who push those 11 to the top. From the marvelous to the mundane, those on the field often know they do not stand alone.
As Christ bowed His head on the cross, His eyes gazed upon those who stood beside Him. Mary and John were actively present along the Way of the Cross to the moment when He “commended up HIs Spirit.” Their consoling presence was not intended to change the outcome of His fateful finish. Rather, they stood as loyal friends who trusted that what appeared to be a great defeat would indeed be the final Victory. They stood in Hope knowing that the cross was not, and does not, have the final word. As a result, what they offered paled in comparison to what they received – His vulnerability, as He shared His wounds, and the gift of one another as He commended them to behold one another.
Though we can not fight one another’s battle, we can actively stand on the sidelines, like Mary and John, so that those who fight know they don’t do so alone. Who’s on your sideline? Who makes you better and supports you in all seasons? How are you called to stand with, and for, others – especially when you can’t change circumstances or outcomes? When we stand on the sidelines, may we stand in Hope believing that the cross always leads to new life.
I remember who I was and I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from
When the moon is the only light we’ll see, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by me
No place I would rather be than here in your Love
“You’re a natural,” he said with a smile. Though he never explained what location each number corresponded with, I intuitively threw each punch squarely onto his moving mitts. We worked around the ring as I threw a flurry of punches. Breathless and grateful, the timer buzzed.
It’s hard not to love boxing, an artistic and athletic display of grace and strength. However, I’m biased. I’m an Irish Catholic New Yorker and on top of that I’m a red-head. I earned the title of Fighting Irish practically at birth. When backed into a corner, proverbial or literal, my synapses fire so quickly that I’m swinging before I’ve even had time to formulate my animated verbal response. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a Spirit of power.” 2 Tim. 1:7
Then there’s that part where the Gospel mentions to turn the other cheek – an unnatural response in my book to say the least. However, the verse from the second letter of Timothy does not end with the reminder of our strength found in Christ. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Power is not ultimately found in fighting for its own sake. Rather, as we fight with strength, may we be directed by the good, guided by love, and harnessed by self-control.
This beckons the question – what’s worth fighting for? How can we spend our time and energy using our talents for that which is good? In order to fight well, we need to first recognize what arena we are called into and which one we need to step out from? Wherever you are called, may you dare boldly to fight the good fight, remembering “it’s not the critic who counts.”
So I can face my giants with confidence
This is what I’m talking about
There’s a magic in the sound of her name