Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Fall into my arms
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the April 30, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
To make the free and conscious choice to let ourselves fall under the influence of the plan or will of another person is one of the most difficult things for us human beings to do. After all, to trust in such a manner seems so contradictory to the dynamic of our lives. From the very day we come out of our mother’s womb, our entire focus in life seems to be independence and self-will. Little by little, day after day, week after week, and year after year, we struggle for that independence which makes us stand on our own two feet, claiming our own path in life. It seems that one of the basic lessons of life is to be masters of our own lives, truly independent of anyone or anything else.
Of course, the opposite is true about the human experience. Independence is not the mark of maturity; inter-dependence is. It is an absolute fact of life that we need other things and especially other people to find fullness in our own lives. Even before we are born, this is an established fact. We need others for food and shelter. We need things for entertainment and work. We need others for attention and love.
It is difficult to counter our strong desire for independence. It is difficult to establish a way of trust in our lives. For that reason it is not uncommon for people in psychological therapy – or even in youth groups and adult sharing sessions – to engage in a game called “Trust Me.” [Cite further: the poor little green gecko in a popular television commercial!] The object of the game is to let oneself literally fall into the safety of another’s arms. People in the group stand in a closed circle; one individual stands in the middle, closes his or her eyes and falls backward, into the arms of friends. Into the arms of friends. That’s the important part and that’s why this simple act of trust is so difficult to execute. What if my “friends” let me fall? What if I fall and there is no one to catch me? What if this invitation is a big joke?
This game of “Trust Me” is just a game (which obviously requires maturity and at times close supervision). Needless to say, it is not a game that a group of strangers plays at its first gathering. Trust is built over time and requires a certain history of signs that those around us are worthy of trust.
The choice to trust lies at the heart and soul of the Gospel brought to us by Jesus. Throughout the two or three years of his ministry he announced the presence in our lives of God’s kingdom. Jesus announced that the God whom our hearts seek is a God of forgiveness and unconditional love. In effect, he announced that God can be trusted – not so much with the security of our bodies but with the ultimate meaning of our lives. This is not just a matter of words. Jesus did not just talk about the loving and saving presence of God. He manifested it clearly in the way he treated people. He established a community whose membership is based on the single reality that we are sons and daughters of God. He embraced children and let women come close to him. He dined with sinners. He pleaded with the self-righteous. He healed the broken-hearted and those of broken bodies. Most importantly, he paid attention to the poor – those most frequently rejected by society and often by the religious community itself.
The entire life and ministry of Jesus is a miracle of love, inviting people to entrust their lives into the hands of God. During his ministry he does not just talk about God’s kingdom, but invites people to experience it in their own lives. “Trust me,” Jesus seems to say on every page of the Gospel, in every one of his sermons, in every one of his stories.
For us Christians the ultimate celebration of trust is the Easter feast. It is the victory of trust. It is the celebration of God’s final say in our discipleship in Jesus. The victory of God over death in Jesus as he falls into the arms of his Father is a joy to our hearts. We can trust in a God who leads us not to death, but to life. But first we must make the choice to die, to let go. We can trust that in all things God is at work, that in every form of dying to selfishness and sin the power of God is victorious. We can and do trust in a God who will not let us fall. Thanks be to God, we can die with faith, knowing that God is with us to save.
(Father Savelesky is the diocese's Director of Deacon Formation and pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)