The Fear of Being Open
“Could you be a rose and never know it?
Strangled by the fear of being open”
I was first turned to the music of Cloverton when their Christmas Rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was making the rounds on Facebook a few years ago. I’ve come to appreciate the band’s unique sound and thought provoking lyrics and this line from their latest album’s title track, “Bloom” hit very close to home for me.
We have a lovely yellow rose bush in our backyard. It’s a fine plant during most of the year when it looks like a typical bush. What makes it earn the “lovely” title is when the yellow petals open up in bloom. You may be thinking, “of course that’s when roses are at their best!” It’s great when they bloom, but often times the beauty is short lived in the season. When the rose pedals bloom, they become very susceptible to wind, rain, cold, heat, animals, basically everything and it’s not long until the beautiful blooms bear the scars of being open to the world.
Fortunately for us, roses don’t think about the damage they might incur when they are open, otherwise they might think twice about opening their beauty to the world. It would be much safer to remain closed up.
Isn’t that the truth? How many of us choose the safety of being closed over the risk of bloom? We’ve been through a few seasons, we know what can happen when we are open to the elements. Perhaps when we were younger we opened up in a relationship, only to be scorched by the flames of unfaithfulness. Maybe we stepped forward to take up the cause of the oppressed and found the coldness of the world to their plight enough to frost the beauty of the cause. When we are opened up, we are vulnerable. When we are vulnerable, there is likely to be pain. So why be vulnerable?
People as individuals and organizations (how many churches are afraid of being open?) allow fear to stop
them from gracing the world with the beauty of their passions and the love that God has enabled their hearts to give. Fear has this uncanny ability to lead us directly to the demise that we are trying to avoid. One who is never open in a relationship will have more trouble trying to connect. One who fears the difficulty of change and pulls back will only enable the injustice to grow to a more overwhelming level. A rose that keeps its buds hidden will still pass away at the end of the season, only without having done any blooming during its time.
God has created us to bring beauty to the world. Each one of us is being cultivated by the Holy Spirit and God’s grace to shine in an amazing way. Fear will try to convince us that being open in bloom isn’t worth the risk, but a rose bush without the roses is just a thorny bush. If everyone succumbs to the fear, then the world of “safety” will be very dull indeed. A world full of bloom, however, is most beautiful when we are all blooming/shining together.
-Rev. Cameron Overbey