Fiddleheads are a lovely spring delicacy tasting much like mild fresh asparagus, but they must be harvested at just the right time. Once the heads have opened up, the ferns become inedible.
Like the hidden places of the heart, a harvest of spiritual growth may result in a nourishing feast where shared words of intimacy are held in honour. But they may become a poison to us or others should they be served or ingested inappropriately.
Heads we win, tails we lose is not the wisest way to choose a confidant – even among colleagues supposedly standing side by side. And so we often choose to hide, denied the gift of shared intimacy and lived grace for fear that bite size pieces of our stories will be unraveled harshly, cut and edited for public consumption inappropriately.
Our journey of faith is meant to be travelled with others, but leafing through the fractured aspects of our lives to grow in self awareness and find peace to heal the bitter taste old wounds have left behind leaves us open to the world, exposed and vulnerable.
As pastors and servant leaders, we listen attentively to others, but the very nature of spiritual leadership means we often find it difficult to find someone with whom we are safely able to do the same.
Knowing what was in the hearts of people, Jesus would not entrust himself to them. (John 2: 24-25). Yet, he walked circumspectly with a small circle of close friends, sharing his heart, guarding his heart until the time he chose to let his heart be broken for us as false witnesses distorted his words and ironically nailed the truth of his kingship to the cross.
We may want to curl up tightly to conceal our inner world should we become aware our trust has been broken in significant ways. Once something is revealed it is impossible to roll it back up and keep it safely tucked away as though it were not there. At these crucial points of unfolding honesty we find life and love waiting to embrace us in the acceptance of God, but the experiences of choice morsels being taken and abused leave us questioning whether the headache of possible hurt by others is worse than wasted time and really worth the risk.
“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Prov. 18:8)
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” (Prov. 20: 19)
Since we don’t want to be eaten, exposed, or consumed with callous disregard for the holy ground of our souls by careless cultivation and distribution of our core realities, we clam up and shrivel on the stem of wondrous possibilities.
As when confidences are broken and information is used against us by someone we considered a friend; as when fiddlers fiddle with our reputation by playing one tune while listening to us but modifying the melodies of our words as tidbits of paraphrased phrases to later entertain themselves and others; as when the content of our conversations are scrolled down for others to hear who were not there to glean the context nor ever meant to hold things closest to our hearts.
If you have felt such violation, may you hear the music of the faithful master musician replaying your song, reframing your life long story with the caressing care it respectfully deserves.
Our careful choice of companionship attempts to exempt the one who would unfurl our holy circle of communion to wave it in the winds of gossip and rumour, misrepresentation and humour at our expense instead of holding trust together to become a pot of provision for a world needing to be held lovingly without judgement and fear.
We may be tempted to shut down, but God revealed in man showed us how to be gathered at just the right time by his Spirit to know the blessing of agape love, divine love binding us as one and serving up this love to a hungry world waiting to be heard and held and healed in loving communication, in holy communion in Christ.
He keeps his word and holds our words in prayer to him in complete confidence. Let him take those heavy words which make your head hang low and lift you up in love.
Jesus went to the Father for the full intimacy our souls desire, but he also walked in genuine fellowship with the companions he was given.
What a gift to find someone with whom we can share our hearts, confident that it will be kept as a sacred trust; where the words we speak are dictated onto the scroll of a soul who hears and tightly guards our vulnerability; where a circle of secure confidentiality refuses to unfurl what some may simply treat as tasty morsels; where there is no fiddling around with our innermost being to be passed along and waved in winds of gossip irrespective of the damage this will cause.
Such people may be rare as the short season for harvesting fiddleheads along moist spring ditches and forest floors, but they are out there and well worth the search and effort to glean each gem of safe exchange with them for the nourishment of our souls.
May each servant heart of his be given such a gift … and may we open ourselves up to the necessary spiritual transformation to be that gift for another in the love of Christ.
“Lord, for each one walking scared, tightly bound by memories of wounds as painful as the memories shared and abused, might you invite them to curl up with you and be restored? Will you gently scroll through hurting lives to lift hearts curled in fear of being known before your throne of love and grace? Will you take words carelessly tossed about and strip them of their power to defame your name or cause us shame … for you have taken all the shame upon yourself and we are held by love, tightly held by love. Amen.”
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, the lifter of my head.” (Ps. 3:3)