Saturday, July 16, 2011
The Loving Persistence of Bamboo
My neighbor has a rather large clump of bamboo next to the fence that separates our yards. Have you ever seen what a bamboo shoot can do? It's a pretty strong wood. As it grows slowly and deliberately, it is able to force off planks of wood from the fence. Imagine that. You put up the best fence you can to protect yourself, or to hide behind, and this little shoot of bamboo works persistently and patiently until an opening is broken in the fence.
I've been pretty good at building fences in my life. Some fences have been roles that I put on like a costume for a play. When I am in my role, I am protecting my inner self. I don't have to expose my self. It's the role-person who takes the risks and takes the grief, not the real self. Or I hide behind passivity, make decisions passively, or reacting to others in passive-aggressive way. Or, sometimes, I get all puffed up with my own importance and show myself as confident, even arrogant, as I am an expert in my field. There are many other ways that I, and we, can build fences, many ways we try to protect our self, or hide our self from risks and dangers. The problem is that behind "the fence" the self also becomes rather lonely. That's where the bamboo comes in. You see, the bamboo sees where the light is and will grow towards that light. Sometimes I am quick to cut the stalk before it gets too big. But it keeps sending out new shoots to challenge my false sense of security. That bamboo is Love. It is the love of special friends who see within me something that I have closed my eyes to seeing. It is the love of the Divine who created me and never gives up on loving me. That love is patient and persistent, and eventually it will break down the fence. And what I have found is that when the self is allowed to be more vulnerable, it is also able to be touched and enriched by the love that has always been there, trying to work it's way through the fence. And with the companionship of those who love me, not for my roles, not for my expertise, not because I am the greatest thing since sliced bread, and certainly not because they are afraid not to, with that great communion the risks and vulnerability don't seem so great after all.