Playing It Safe
“'Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.' 'Ooh,' said Susan, 'I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite—safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.' 'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver, 'Who said anything about safe?' 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.'”
C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Isn't it interesting that we're all looking for safety? We want to feel secure. We want there to be no threats of invasion, or intrusion, or danger. Yet, at the same time, we take every sort of risk. We put our information out on computers that we know can be hacked and, indeed, are hacked every single day. We get into vehicles and drive on dangerous roads, we trust our very lives to perfect strangers, we believe in all manner of unfounded and unproven things. But in the midst of it, we expect to be safe.
I'll tell you the truth—the universe is not safe; not if safety means nothing bad ever happens to you. I had a conversation with my friend, Rebecca, just last night about a simple statement I made to my sons: “When I look back at my life, I have no regrets.” Ludicrous, right? In the moment I said it, I almost heard the gods laughing. “Oh, yeah,” they said, “We'll see about that!” Ever since, memories have been surfacing of things that I regret! People I've wronged, friends I've betrayed, mistakes I've made, words I spoke when I should have kept my mouth shut. The universe will give you what you NEED, believe me! What it will not give you a hall-pass to safety. Living consciously is dangerous business.
But, like Aslan, living consciously is good. It helps us to see ourselves clearly. It causes us to flesh out all the facets of who we are—the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. We tend to look at our lives as if the parts of us that we aren't proud of are somehow “not us.” But they are. When we attempt to cut them off and deny them, we lose something important. We lose our breadth, our complexity. We are not “the King.” We are mere humans—wonderfully deep, wide, crazy, complex, brilliant and stupid animals. We do dumb things, we make terrible mistakes, but we also do wonderful things, and when we're at our best, we make the world a better place. You can't do that and be safe at the same time!
In the Spirit,
*Drawing by Jake Philips