Editor’s note: I met Amy at a Collegeville Institute writers workshop this summer. Her post, “Fly,” makes vivid Craig Dykstra’s description of the pastoral imagination: “a kind of internal gyroscope, guiding pastors in and through every crevice of pastoral life and work,” (For Life Abundant, 2008, Eerdmans). Amy’s pastoral imagination certainly takes flight below. We thank her for sharing with us. -- Verity
People weren’t meant to fly.
That’s what I told her when she told me there are times in the life of every human being in which we hang, suspended, between what used to be but is not anymore ... and what will be but is not yet.
It’s like a trapeze artist, she said.
Part of the artist’s job is to let go of something ... and grab hold, of course, of something else. And when he does that, there is that moment, a split second, when he is flying through the air not holding onto anything.
People weren’t meant to fly, I repeated.
The only thing, though, she continued, is that sometimes in real life, that moment of sheer fear, when you’ve let go of something but haven’t quite grabbed ahold of something else, lasts a little longer than a split second.
And while you hang there, suspended between what was and what will be, the “split second” stretches into a huge expanse of time ...
... time enough to look up at the next thing you are supposed to grab and notice it seems rather far away.
... time enough to look down at the ground, notice it rushing toward you and wonder how it would feel to end up there. On your face.
My point exactly, I thought to myself. People weren’t meant to fly.
But if we don’t let go, she explained, we swing there indefinitely, never going anywhere ... just staying in the same place, with momentum eventually waning to a full, dead stop. We have to let go, she said, in order to catch the next thing.
But what if you fall?, I asked, as this seemed like a very basic question.
But what if you don’t?, she asked back.
Well, I told her ... people weren’t meant to fly.
Maybe we were, she said.
Maybe we were.
Originally published July 10, 2007 at www.talkwiththepreacher.org. Rev. Amy Butler has served as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. since 2003. She lives with her family in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Center for Pastoral Excellence at CTS addresses the long arc of ministry from discernment to training to sustaining excellence ministry. This blog post has been reposted with permission from Amy's blog, Talk With the Preacher. To request permission to repost this content, please contact Amy Butler.