Monday, March 8, 2010

The Edge

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center

- Kurt Vonnegut, from his first novel, Player Piano*

I have always been taught to live the opposite of this, but I must confess it is how I long to live and often do live. I love the edge but it is so much harder to not fall over than one might think.

I was taught to avoid the edge in order to avoid sin and pain. Avoiding the edge was how one stayed holy and in holiness I was safe. As I read scripture I see absolutely nothing that supports that teaching. Holiness is dangerous; it is secure but not safe.

Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, hungry and alone, on the edge. He spent his time touching the sin that he came to heal the world of. When he wasn't on the edge he was in the middle of the mess not in the center of security.

We are called to a life of holiness and holiness comes not in the absence of temptation but in overcoming it. Nonetheless, somehow I have to know my limitations of temptation. I have to know that if I was in the desert and hungry, I would turn the stone to bread (if only I knew how). So, my holiness is somehow entirely other from God's. It is a holiness that grows while standing on the edge. It is weak, but willing, and maybe that is the best I have to offer for now.

*confession I have not read this book, my response to the quote comes not at all from the context of the quote, but the sentiment that it invoked in me.

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