Sunday, January 13, 2008

transition zones

After talking with a friend today I remembered a "poem" I had read and copied down into my journal during my time in New Zealand.
When I got home tonight I went looking for my journals and it was interesting to read my thoughts and experiences from such a formative period in my life. Sometimes I was a bit embarrassed by my thoughts, feelings, and actions during that time and sometimes I was amazed at what God taught me and how I grew during this time.
I did find the "poem". It's not really a poem at all but prose (I think). I thought I would type it out because I still really like it - 6 years later.
Fear of Transformation
Sometimes I feel my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging onto a trapeze bar swinging along, or for a few moments, I'm hurtling across space in between bars.
Most of the time I'm hanging on for dear life to my trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while as I'm merrily swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance and I see another bar swinging towards me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move on to the new one.
Each time it happens, I hope and pray I won't have to grab the new trapeze bar. But in my knowing place I realize that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and for some time I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I have always made it. Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees. No net. No insurance policy. But you do it anyway, because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer an alternative. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here".
It's called transition. I have come to believe that transition is the only place that real change occurs. I have noticed that in our culture this transition zone is looked upon as a nothing, a no place between places. Surely the old trapeze bar was real and that new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too. But the void in between? That's just a scary, confusing, disorienting "nowhere" that must be gotten through as fast as possible. What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and that the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are the incredibly rich places. They should be honoured even savoured. Even with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, most passionate, most expansive moments in our lives.
And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang out" in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening, in the true sense of the word.
Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.


  1. wow those are great thoughts. it's almost like faith steps/faith barriers are frequently faith bars... as you put it. although i can't imagine using that analogy at a summit retreat for 400 people, i will probably use it in personal discipleship.

    i wonder if i'm chilling in my transition right now... or procrastinating the change!

  2. i heart this post. this writer person has captured what i'm beans. besides, i've always liked the circus..good imagery (:

  3. Great post Vanessa,

    I feel as though I'm in another phase of transition. Transitions are good because in our weakness His strength is made perfect. When there's nothing physical around us to orientate our lives, Jesus is there.


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