Toward the end of his life, Bruce had an advanced case of Parkinson’s. One of the symptoms is particularly disconcerting. Sometimes when Bruce sees a line on the floor (perhaps because his eyes are cast down, watching his feet, fearing a loss of balance?), he stops, immobilized, because he “sees” that line as a wall. He literally, does not (or cannot) move.
A friend tells the story of a ride in an elevator with Bruce and Bruce’s wife. The doors open. My friend and the wife exit the elevator. Bruce walks (with his walker) toward the open doors, but sees only the line, or space, that separates the elevator from the building floor. He stops. He sees only “a wall”–an impediment.
Bruce looks up, trusts who he sees, and steps slowly out of the elevator.
I cannot imagine Parkinson’s, or the courage it takes to face and to battle such a debilitating and often humiliating disease. But all of us know what it is like to feel stuck, or stymied, or (for reasons we don’t even understand) stopped. There are times when we are just plain afraid to take another step. Our “limitation” or fear is greater than our ability to move forward. Even with the best of intentions or faith, we see only a wall.
When this happens to me, as it did this week, I am reluctant to tell anyone. Because, after all, “Big boys don’t show any weakness.” I’ve got a dozens reasons why I give into my limitations, and none of them have to do with me. Like the old parable, “The girl who can’t dance says the band can’t play.”
“The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that no one is cheated in this world, unless its by himself, but some of us are so wounded that we must return to the scene of the crime, must play with the fire that burned us, must live the scene out as many times as necessary until it comes out differently. We are not prisoners, no traps or snares are set about us, but many of us imprison ourselves or at least are helplessly stalled.” Merle Shain
I do know that if I run from my brokenness, it only exacerbates the problem. Like it or not, we all carry with us fault-lines, and brokenness, and vulnerability.