Happily Wise and Wisely Happy — A Spirituality of Falling

Staff_McDermott, TomSunday — “Before We Fall,” feat: blues artist, Buddy Whittington!

Actors do it with Stunt Doubles and Doubles do it with great forethought. Dancers and gymnasts do it with shameless grace. Rock climbers do it with fearless abandon. Lovers are typically surprised by it. Martial Artists do it intentionally. Children often do it playfully.

flying-trapezeThe rest of us mostly do it badly.

We all fall.  

Falling is often both tragic and comic. It can be filled with pain or awkward embarrassment. There is often that comic moment, where others get to experience a little Schadenfreude! But we shake it off, laugh a little ourselves, and move on.

We’re walking downtown, lunch hour — our most confident stride (because we suspect people are watching.) We turn the corner and are suddenly wrapped up in a great spider web. We flail and swat our face and body afraid of the tiny, malicious creature we suspect has just hitched a ride! But we don’t think to stop walking. Our pace picks up to move us away from the spot as fast as possible, all the while still flailing our arms. Then we remember — people are probably watching. And that’s when we trip on a raised slab in the sidewalk and crash to the ground!

A guy nearby rushes to our aid as we awkwardly get up, then put on our best game face and give it the gymnast’s “stuck it” pose!

My middle school football coach used to shout to me as I was laid out from a collision with a linebacker twice my size, “Come on, McDermott! Rub it hard, shake it off, and get back in the game!” I wanted to say, “It’s all good, Coach. Just helping him to feel over confident!”

The more insidious falls, though — the emotional pits and relationship ruts, the painful personal losses and failures, the sudden crises and chaos — these falls seem more difficult to shake off and get back in the game. We lose our sense of trust. We hold back, draw inward, more fearful. The gravitational pull of doubt or shame or fear takes over and keeps us down. And falling becomes more a way of being than landing and “sticking it.”

There is both tragedy and comic irony in our falling. But we are reminded in Psalm 139 and Acts 17, we rise and fall in the heart of God’s being. We do not fall alone, nor do we rise simply on our own. Our movements down and up (or inward and outward, as my scientist father-in-law would remind me) are in the being of God’s creative and mysterious presence.

Tragic moments can certainly move us toward deeper wisdom. While comic perspectives often bring us simple happiness and relief. But perhaps the real task in a spirituality of falling, in learning how to fall, is to discover how to fall more intentionally in the life of God so we can be both happily wise and wisely happy.

A Spirituality of Falling_HSThis Sunday, October 11, in eleven:eleven celebration,  

A Spirituality of Falling: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life  

“Before the Fall”

Featuring guitarist/blues singer

Buddy Whittington 

with the music of Delbert McClinton, Mavis Staples, Glenn Hansard, the Revolution Band

and guest artist Annan Kirk (on marimba)!


And a Reminder for two Sundays from now…

Sunday, October 18

12:30 pm | Room 350

our first monthly

Food and Fabulous Moments

a catered, casual meal centered around

7-10 minute, personal stories, shared at the table

(funny, sad, inspiring, matter of fact)

Come to share a tale or simply to listen, laugh, and linger!

This month’s theme,
Free Falling

(personal stories of falling objects, skydiving, flying, the season of Fall,

moments of tripping and falling, close-calls, etc)

Suggested Donation for Lunch — $8

For more information contact Tom McDermott at 817/339-3881 or Gayle Ammerman at 817/339-5091.


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