I heard about this study on self-perception, or at least, the study says that was the original point of it, how does our self-perception match up with what is really happening. So these researchers went around asking people what kind of animal they would be, trying to find out what our choices said about us.
An unlooked-for pattern emerged. The young ones? They picked fantasy characters, wild animals, weird and wonderful animals. “I want to be a Basilisk!” said one sweet eight year old girl, “because then I could live for millions of years!” And the old ones, they picked a nice dog. And so the study turned into a broader discussion on how, as we get older, we become tame.
As we age, we become domesticated, even in our fantasies, it seems.
Me? I’ve always been domesticated. Even as a kid, when that question came up in school projects, I picked a good old house cat. I love the independence of cats, the hold-their-own-counsel of cats, and I’ve always been a prowler, but yes, I crave predictable, stable, and three-good-meals, a patch of sun, lots of space, a slower pace. (I would like to have a cat, but Brian is of the opinion we have enough eating, pooping, and destroying things going on in our household at present.)
As I get older, it seems that God has a different invitation, a reverse of sorts, perhaps. Instead of the wild becoming tame, as I age, I’m the tame becoming wild, or at least wilder. I’m moving from my safe and predictable desires for a quiet and comfortable life to a heart-cry for mercy and love and justice, to a fearlessness, to a boldness. I’m moving from my highest priority on my own comfort and safety to a willingness to be inconvenienced. It hurts and it’s uncomfortable and it’s holy.
I can sense God’s pleasure when I’m scared to death, and I do it anyway. I can sense the movement of the Holy Spirit in conquering my fears, in leaving the boardroom table debates or tight theological boxes and labels and rules, in following the wind, right outside to the fresh air, a new cathedral, perhaps.
I’m practicing the ways of Jesus, and I’m not sure what will come next, I can’t plan for these things, I know that, but I can keep waking up, every day. Awake, awake, my soul. I’m learning to watch what the Spirit is already doing in the world, in the lives of those around me, and I’m learning to participate, join in, jump in, as the waters move. Sometimes that means enforcing boundaries and wisdom, making time for that patch of sun and solitude, for quiet and daily rhythms, for what matters most to me, and other times it means a willingness to be inconvenienced, to be bold and fearless, Kipling’s cat perhaps, waving my wild tail where it pleases me.
Now I’m curious: what type of animal would you be?
Also linked up with the SheLoves synchroblog for September on the theme of Awake.