Let It All In


Nicole Walters -Let It All In4

Shut tight, it was closed against the outside world.
It wasn’t so much to keep out that which offended
though I would have said that was the intention back then.
The reason was much more that I didn’t trust myself,
didn’t know how to stay on the straight and narrow.
I was so afraid of making the wrong choice,
of not being enough to earn the acceptance I so desperately craved.
You’d yell and say I was close-minded,
that I couldn’t see anything outside of the safe little world I’d created.

It wasn’t my mind that snapped shut in those early years of faith, though;
it was my heart.
I couldn’t open it to anything that threatened to destroy what I’d found.
If I just kept my head down and my eyes straight ahead,
maybe I’d earn this love I ran towards with all my striving.

The cracks were small at first, just tiny rays of light shining through.
It was the moment stopping to cross myself at the altar with tentative hands.
Could I be contemplative and contemporary at the same time?
It was a piping hot cup of green tea and silence.
Was it okay for me to be here with you, learning about meditation?
Fissures followed, all I’d built being torn down around me.
The walls tumbled down and I could finally see …

I didn’t see Christ in the sanctuary I’d resigned Him to.
I saw Him in the kids at the projects where I tutored.
He stared out at me from the eyes of the addict who stood next to me
serving a meal to homeless men who lived where he used to.
Christ was in the places I thought the most unlikely,
The places I should have looked to begin with.

Opening yourself is dangerous.

An open heart lets in all the mess.
Life’s not a garden that is clean and manicured,
not safe and secure within its borders.
There are thorns and weeds reaching between the buds,
dangers lurking beneath the rocky soil.

An open heart lets in all the beauty.
Unfurling like the petals of a flower that had closed tightly against the storm,
my heart stretched open to the life giving rains.
I could suddenly see the bright colors all around me,
the variety and diversity that made the garden beautiful in all its untidiness.
They’d been there all along.
Wild and untamed.

I feel it all now—the pain, the fear.
I feel it all now—the awe, the joy.
Everything I would have missed
if I hadn’t let it all in.