July 26, 2017

On Superhero Capes

There once was a girl who wore a superhero cape.

It wasn't a fancy cape. A hodgepodge of florals and stripes, bold and tame. Fashioned from scraps found along her way, it gave her a super power.

Superhuman strength... but not the kind that can stop bullets or lift cars clear above her head.

The kind that can walk through fire.

The kind that can silence storms and tame the wild.

A few too many battles changed her mind. She didn't wield well this strength. She decided that the only way to survive was to use her superpower to protect herself.

Her heart turned to forged iron. It made her stand tall. Her cape changed from rags to shimmering light, and she thought she could fly. She used heavy stones to build a fortress. She flew to its highest turret and lived high above all of the people she knew. She was untouchable. She was unhurtable. 

She was strong.

But this power was never meant to protect her. It was never meant to draw battle lines in a circle around herself.

People came from far and wide to see this heroine. She wandered the halls of her fortress, watching the people from her spire. But she could not touch them. She could not help them or love them or live among them, for her cape was only beautiful and her heart was only safe inside the stone walls.

She grew dismayed, her iron heart rusting ever so slightly at the seams. She prayed each night that she would become strong again.

Her strength did not return. Rain began to fall each day. It eroded the mortar between the stones of her tower. She cursed the sky from which it came, and the God Who had seemingly not answered her prayers. Her cape turned slowly back to rags and her heart to flesh and blood.

Our heroine awoke one day to find a bright sky and the sun shining warm.

"Maybe, for one day, I could walk amongst the people. My fortress is no good anymore anyway."

So, she ventured out with her cape made of scraps. She tried to lift the heaviest stone she could find, but she wasn't able. She tried to fly above the treetops to see the glorious view of the sky, but her feet hardly left the ground.

"This old cape isn't worth anything," She said as she trudged back to her tower. She reached to untie the knot, just as a ragged stray dog stepped into the path before her. It limped and snarled all at once, warning her away. But, she knew it was badly hurt. 

"I just want to help you," she said, reaching out a cautious hand. "It's really no use trying to guard your wounds."

Slowly, the dog obliged. She wrapped it in her cape and cleaned it up. As she continued home, the dog followed, and she realized that even if she couldn't fly-- even if she didn't stand tall-- she could tame the wild again.

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...