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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Strube

Safe and Reckless Callings

There are moments in life where the veil runs thin, where the forest clears and the vines untangle their thorns. Here, for small seconds, we can hear the whispers beyond our momentary clatters.  Here, we unclutter.  Here, the clouds pause and we welcome the invitation – to callings and careers, to passions and projects that make us come alive. Finally, we have found it, we cry, the rivers we were made to fjord, the buildings we were born to build, the crevices we were hand-designed to mend. We have become somebody.

(These too are good things.)

Yet beyond the good, beyond the tasks and talents, far past the labors of our fingertips and the artistry of our souls lies a clearing far more trepidatious than succeeding at our small-minded dreams or failing at our briarpatch fantasies. It is there, past the hedges we build to compete with our brothers and sisters. It is there, over the thornbushes we use to sanitize our desires. It is there, by the trees we swung from as children, past the swing we swore we’d never leave, across the stream that ever showed us our true selves. There, if we linger, clearing the thicket long enough, soliciting the night crickets and clinging into the fog, we will hear it – as the lion lays down with the lamb – we will smell it – as the thunderstorm burns away the haze – we will feel it – as the soil steams out the lark’s mysterious evensong:

Let love in safely. Let love in recklessly.

Such is the undertaking of our lives.

To make love the primary task of our days is a challenge beyond our capability and yet a feat completely within our grasp. And we are brilliant at excuses. Effortless at evasion. Amazing at avoidance. We will do anything but rise to this effort. Give us valiance, give us shame, but please don’t give us love – even though it is the very thing we beg for, the last cool drop of water we’d spend all our monies to drink. It is much easier to busy ourselves, to ask why others have not shown up, never bothering with how absent we have been awaiting their arrival. We plug up our ears and forget the songs we heard that night, down by the river many moons ago, when we first let our hearts pursue us.  When we first learned who we we were.

When the river told us we were lovers. And bid us come and wade. And begged us to throw our pebbles into this kind of existence. We fought years to forget this haunting. It was too sacred, too precious, too exact to what we wanted. But eventually, the ripple catches up with our globe-trotting heals and cannot be silenced.

This is the nature of love. It’s inherent property is to spread until solid contact. And it must always be true to its form.

For too many years, our love has been selective – our only virtue that selects who and how offer. For if we are an honest people, we are honest with everyone. If we are a trustworthy people, we live in integrity with all in our paths. Yet we have delegated our affections as though love was a commodity, a resource in extinction, the vintage bottle of wine we only bring out for special occasions. We live as though love will leave us thirsty, as though it couldn’t satisfy or change us, as though our wine goblets weren’t refillable, as though to give would bleed us dry.

Failing to trust the regenerative nature of love fails us deeply.

Love is not something we can stop. We can try to block its path, delegating our affections to those we find “worthy,” in hopes of remaining a little more scarless for a little more days. But, my friends, selectivity in our love loses the very secret: 

Love breeds love.

And it is within us, not anywhere else.

For far too long, we have placed our safety controls outside of ourselves. We have searched externally for protection rather than become our soul’s own caretakers, where the garden is rich and well is deep. In our essence, we exist inside of love – fully safe and fully reckless, held by the hands of the Divine. Herein, we live in grace, where synchronicity is a most fervent pursuer. Herein, we must trust timing, the passing clock that delivers all the people we need to mutually create health, happiness, and growth. 

At the right time, they all show up in our story. 

Our task is simply to welcome them – welcome the generous and stingy, the lovelies and the difficult ones, the helpers and the downhearted. For whether the misfits of our pasts or the glories of our present have smoothed or obstructed our path matters not – as the true calling of Love in our lives is unstoppable. It is the light that cannot be darkened.

This is not to say we welcome harm. It doesn’t make hurts right. But a coherent narrative knows that all the paths we’ve hobbled, all the stunning and broken roads, have lead us to this moment. Therefore, rest in those who attend to you, appreciate you, hold you affectionately, and celebrate your freedom. Give to those who can’t. Allow the angels inside and listen to their message, which always says – whatever gift you bring, it is perfect.

Others may fear our full self-expression. They too have heard the whispers: Let love in safely, let love in recklessly, but the paradox of it haunts them. It’s much easier to choose one path or the other. To build up walls against being known. Or to throw ourselves into the wind in hopes that others can cure our wounds. We either over-protect or over-mesh. But healthy love is our safety, surrounding us with the most fervent of protection, feather-like boundaries that cannot be broken. Safely, the angels attend us, peeling our sun-scorched to reveal our newborn skin. In this raw state, we are open. And we are free to love as children do – open armed and dancing shameless in the summer dress. 

This is reality of who we are. Open hearted life embracers who keep saying yes. It is in this posture, in full knowledge of our offerings and an unabashed awareness of our limits, that we dance. Here, we accomplish our true life work, revealing ourselves, letting our souls be known,giving our love in the style that is uniquely ours, in this moment, without exclusions…  … recognizing that whatever gifts, wisdom, or kindness we have comes not from us but through us. And keeps moving through us to others who keep the cycle going.

Be grateful for the ways this calling gets stirred up in you. Surrender to the softening. Notice your yielding. It will surprise you. One morning, you will wake up giving in ways you normally wouldn’t. Expanding your lexicon of openheartedness. Doing dishes before being asked. Sending birthday cards unsolicited. Offering back rubs preemptively. Benevolently folding laundry because others forgot to. This may surprise you, it may surprise us, as we normally aren’t so selfless. Or so unafraid. Trust this opening. It comes as your greatest protection.

We do not pay it forward to simply counteract the world’s suffering. We offer freely because it has first been offered to us. For once we take on the challenging path of love, we begin to attract the heavens to our side – the saints and angels, lovers and heroines. Our lives fill up with openhearted soul tenders, dousing us with top shelf kindness, until our cup runneth over, until we have no choice but to surrender to the ooze. 

This is grace: the flow inside us waiting for permission to drink and pour freely.

When we notice this better version of ourselves surprising us, that’s when love has come. That’s when fear has fled. That’s when we have rubbed elbows with angels (which are simply messengers reminding us of our nature), as love’s nature is to spread. Love is the benign cancer, the cellular multiplication that can do nothing but feed in contagion. It must multiply.

It is always a mystery how love will manifest in our lives, but it always predictably arrives. It is a torch that consumes itself, a fire that turns ashes to flight, a candle that shows us who we are. We have and never will be alone on this heroic path and, when we get out of the way and allow ourselves back into the dance, we find ourselves witness to a force beyond our measure and a flow beyond our stopping.

Enter in. Let love be your calling, and let the music rise, restoring each other to the wholeness we were made to revel in. From here, we set out to change the world, opening one heart at a time. Howard Thurman wrote, on the subject of callings, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because the world needs people who have come alive.” One open armed child at a time. So spread the contagion. Surrender to true fearlessness. It’s an open road of delectable surprises if you just keep saying yes to the path.  

Onward, dear ones.

Grateful for all of the saints and angels that keep flying my way and making Santa Barbara my home.

And grateful for David Richo, 

whose workshop inspired this reflection, 

who constantly unravels any box I place around impossibility.

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