My Uncle Mac had an odd way of commenting on things that happened to him that just made you have to stop and think a moment to figure out what he’d just said.
I was at his house one day when he’d gone upstairs to get something. So I went to the kitchen to get us some tea. A few minutes later, there was this sound of something very heavy dropping down the stairs. So I ran to the stairway to see what had happened and there was Uncle Mac sitting on the bottom step.
I asked, “What was all that noise? Sounded like someone threw a TV down the stairs.”
Uncle Mac smiled, “No, no, nothing like that. Just my clothes falling down the stairs.”
“How could clothes make that much noise?” I asked.
He looked up at me a little flummoxed and added, “Well, I was in them at the time.”
There are times we fall and probably wish we hadn’t been there when it happened, or at least given some thought to where we were, what we were doing, just before.
Maybe a simple trip up coming down the stairs, or catching our leg as we exit the car. Falling face forward when the dog on our leash darts after a cat down the sidewalk. Tripping on the mat as we enter a building. Dropping a file of important papers and chasing them down the street. Not enough time in the day, and we didn’t meet that deadline. That sinking feeling at the news of a friend’s sudden illness; or getting that news unexpected about ourselves at the Doctor’s office. A serious disappointment, a job loss, a relationship coming apart, an injury or illness, the sickening feeling at the news of another mass killing in our country.
We fall in many ways and experience it almost every day. We fall into old, familiar patterns of living day to day, how we start off our day, how we treat one another and even how we see the world. And while some falling is certainly more painful than others, and certain more difficult to rise up from, we often fall into them without giving it a second thought.
In Paul’s letter to the early church in Ephesus, he writes, “Stop groping in the muck. Stop tripping up in the dark. Watch what God does and do likewise… Expose darkness for the sham it is… and see how attractive it can look in the light… Wake from your sleep. Climb out of your coffins!”
Franciscan priest and author, Richard Rohr suggests that falling may be a necessary path toward spiritual maturity and deeper joy, though it may hardly feel that way at the time. Rohr suggests there is a way to fall that is more like rising. It is possible that we can learn to fall “freely”, in what physicists call “an object’s ideal state”, in such a way as to experience renewal and healing and resurrection, even in the presence of doubt, pain or suffering, to “wake from our sleep and climb out of our muck”.
I hope you can join us in eleven:eleven celebration, this Sunday as we continue to explore “A Spirituality of Falling — the Blessings of an Imperfect Life”. This Sunday, we’re “Free Falling”, featuring special musical guest artist, Tyree Lindsey, along with Brad Thompson and the Revolution Band (and the music of Tom Petty, Christine Kane, Peter Mayer and traditional Gospel).