in the Garden

Open Hiddenness

There is a sort of appeal in living a hidden life like the Amish, or Catholic monks, or the Hutterites. From my viewpoint on the outside looking in, it seems so satisfying and almost romantic but mostly, it seems peaceful. And I’m sure if I were to sit down and talk with someone who lives a closed-in life they’d agree and disagree, telling me there are times that are satisfying and times that are difficult or boring. Maybe if I were to join them in their closed-in life, I’d find it’s not as romantic as it looked and the peace I was trying to find doesn’t come from a change in living situations.

But, I believe it’s possible to live a closed-in, hidden life without moving into a monastery. To feel safe, tucked in, and at peace while still living out in the open. I think it’s something of what it means to have Jesus in your heart. Does this make sense? I really don’t know, I can’t find the words to describe what I’m feeling.

Sarah Willard, who tends to describe the things I’m feeling much better than I can (what a blessing to have found her), said this:

“The first passage of Scripture I ever memorized by myself was John 14 where Jesus says ‘In My Father’s house are many mansions; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.‘ I was seven years old. I loved the way these words sounded together and I loved the idea of mansions inside a house, like a world inside a shoebox or a tree inside a seed or God Himself inside a little girl.

I believe the main calling for all of us is to create an open and hospitable place, as Henry Nouwen said, where strangers can cast off their strangeness, because that is what Jesus is doing right now for us, and for each of us, his children.”

Jesus hides us, folds us up and under his wings yet we are to live open lives, inviting others into this hiddenness. Does that make sense?

I have a friend, Moriah, who lives out this open hiddenness beautifully- if you knew her, it would make complete sense. Her relationship with Jesus is so dear because it’s so intimate but so freely shared with everyone she meets. It’s probably one of the first things you’ll notice about her, even if you don’t recognize Jesus by name (don’t worry, she’ll introduce you). And how tender? A God who hides in the smile of a friend or the brightness of a zinnia or under the guise of a gardener. Hidden in plain sight, calling you by name, and waiting for you turn around.

When my mom prays she often ends with, “Kache nou anba zel ou, ” which means, “Hide us under your wings.” I’ve always loved the imagery of it- all of us cloaked by his wings like an inverse of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. And while we are hiding under his wings, he is hidden in our hearts. An open hiddenness that is as quiet as a whisper and brighter than the sun.

Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

-Psalm 63:7