Thursday, August 9, 2012

phenomenologically vulnerable

It's St. Edith Stein's feast day, yo!
Look at that woman.
She's so rad.

This lady was my model-of-faith for this past summer 'o Vision. At first I was just excited, because I like her. But she has been a constant reminder to me of one of the themes of the summer: a reminder to be vulnerable. The Edith Stein Project this past year was on vulnerability, and so in preparation we read a lot of Edith Stein's work on authentic personhood, in which vulnerability is touched on a great deal. 

Steeped in this language of vulnerability, my year has been a year of learning a deeper and truer view of vulnerability. Vulnerability means something more than weakness--vulnerability means being strong enough to let go of a false self, and let the true self shine through. Learning this correct attitude towards vulnerability prepared me for the summer in ways I could never have foreseen. In a witness talk I gave (which was actually an expansion and re-working of this post), I touched on the challenge to be vulnerable, and how contrary to human nature it can be. When a chink appears in our armor, we just immediately put up our defenses, thinking if we ignore the crack, it will disappear. But we're not called to have it all together, and to be in complete control of ourselves, our fate, and our lives. We're just called to love. And as a C.S. Lewis quote that's become ingrained in my vocabulary goes: "To love at all, you must be vulnerable."

And having Edith's presence by my side all summer was a constant reminder to embrace my vulnerability with courage and faith. She taught me about true vulnerability, and how necessary it is to live authentically. A life lived authentically is a life lived in love. If we're living a life wrapped up in the numbness and pseudo-security of a false self, we're not truly living. 
Thus, maybe we could create a corollary to Lewis' saying: to live at all, we must be vulnerable.

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