Have you ever played with a water snake wigglie?  OK, so I didn’t know what to call it either until I did an Internet search.  It is a plastic tube filled with liqWater Snake Wigglieuid that folds in on itself.  That means that the more you squeeze it, the more it squirts away from you.  The only way to hold it, is to hold it lightly, not tightly. In considering risk this past week, part of the conversation turned to the way we hold on to things.  For instance, if we hold on too tightly to “being right” we never risk new ways that might “be wrong.”  If we hold on to a doctrine tightly it becomes dogma and turns from a tool to a weapon.  In his song, Hold On to These Things, Troy reminded us that if we hold on too tightly we no longer hold the thing for God but hold it for ourselves. But if we treat more of our beliefs like they are water snake wigglies, then we might understand that the true risk comes when our grasp on it is too swift and strong.  It takes an open hand to risk holding a new idea.  The risk is that the idea may be wrong, but if we hold it too tightly then we never have the chance to determine one way or another.  That takes us back to the preceding step in the creative process, hovering.  We need to spend some time contemplating before acting.  While moving from hovering to risk is always dangerous, if done properly it is not reckless.  The move needs to be intentional and controlled, but there has to be motion.  The fun of a water snake wigglie is in trying to squeeze it just right so that the movement begins but doesn’t escalate beyond your ability to  keep up with it.

Of course, sometimes risks are so big and bold that there is an accompanying avalanche of change that cannot be stopped.  It was just such a brave move that I considered when  doing an exercise from [amazon_link id=”1557258716″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Drawn In: A Creative Process for Artists, Activists, and Jesus Followers[/amazon_link]
Here is the exercise:

Think of a friend or family member who has recently taken a huge risk, even if it didn’t play out as they expected. On a blank sheet of paper write words that come to mind as you consider the courage they demonstrated. Repeat this by thinking of other personal examples of risk until you have generated a list of ten to twenty words. Don’t try to organize the words, just write them randomly all over the page.
Now take those words and use them in a prayer to God. You may want to take a circle stencil and circle certain words and connect them like pictures of molecules connected to make various atoms.
Lastly, think of risks you have procrastinated on or have avoided. List these randomly across the same page and draw circles around them as well (you may want to use a different color here). Now, use lines to connect these possible risks with the risks that you have admired in others. Write along those lines words that represent whatever fears you have about taking these risks. Perfect love cast out all fear. Pray as you connect these, asking God to teach you how to connect the dots between loving dreams and concrete love to risk reaching out, forgiving, and letting go your darlings or needs for external authority, prestige, wealth, or privilege.Namoli Brennet

The person I thought of was the amazingly talented singer/songwriter, friend of Darkwood Brew Namoli Brennet.  She had just given a splendid performance at our church a week before and as part of the concert she shared the story of her transition from male to female while she was a music director in a church.  While the locals were supportive, the denomination objected and she had to leave.  The very public nature of a transgender transition requires a bravery I can’t begin to imagine.  Every day would bring new risks and certain challenges.  Any fear I have over risks that I am considering pales in comparison.  It was from that place that the prayer that was shared both in our worship and on Darkwood Brew came.  I will close by sharing it:

 O God the risk-taker, thank you for your perfect love poured out on me, casting out my fear.  But I need you to turn up the pressure.  I have only put my toes in that holy water.  The messiness of my fears cannot be washed away with that dabbling.  Perhaps a sprinkle in the face can awaken me to let go of the fear of losing the familiarity and comfort of the known present, but I need a blast from your gracious hose if I am going to release my anxiety about how I am perceived by others and risk the criticisms that may be littered on the path to the future you dream for me.  Push me off the diving board into the deep end of your eternal love where I may float sustained by you, free from all fear of any failure, because you took the risk first to create me in you image, that I might succeed when I accept the gift of being fully the human you made.  Just like Jesus did.  In whose name I pray.  Amen.

 Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of  First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Brimfield, MA He blogs about the intersection of spirituality and society at CultureDove.blogspot.com and the intersection of spirituality and ornithology at https://birdparables.blogspot.com

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