He Flies Though the Air
Faith Connections' Nov. 27 Theology on Tap was abuzz with images of circus stunts. Sr. Sue Mosteller shared with us reflections on her experience of living with and learning from trapeze artists.
Listening to Sr. Sue, images of scary heights, exciting flight, hopeful expectations, and dreadful falls flashed through my mind. Rodney, one of the flyers Sr. Sue met, said he was always excited about flying,
"Flying is awful, it hurts. I fall and hurt myself but the feeling of flying is awesome." Rodney is willing to overcome his fear to take that leap of faith. By the time he has finished with his warm up and has reached the top of the ladder his nerves are raw with fear but he takes a deep breath and leaps anyway. Sr. Sue challenged us with the words of Persian poet Rumi: "Do not go the way fear bids you." The flyer is in touch with fear and has to get through that fear in order to reach what his passion calls him to. When a flyer lets go of the trapeze he is entrusting his life to the catcher; he is willing to risk letting someone else catch him. Our relationships with people and with God so often mirror this reality. We are challenged to trust in order that our relationships may grow and flourish.
Catcher or Flyer
"In the circus world, before you become a catcher you have to be a flyer," Sr. Sue informed us. You need to know what it means to trust someone else with a leap of faith. Thus, catchers are sensitive to their important role. However, this role is not one of fame. The audience claps for the flyer; the catcher waits patiently in the background. In the same way in our relationships we are called to be both flyer and catcher.
Sr. Sue applied the metaphor of the trapeze to many contexts. She said in some ways Jesus is like a catcher. He is there and waiting, ready and flexible. He points the attention away from himself to his Father — the Almighty Catcher. Jesus was also like a flyer, said Sr. Sue,
"He didn't fall when he was criticized because he knew who he was and he wasn't waiting for others to tell him. He was the beloved of God." Jesus came to tell us a beautiful thing: that God loves us. He will always catch us when we leap. Thus, the leap (the distance between flyer and catcher) is the Good News: we are the beloved of God. God rejoices because we are alive! What a wonderful message! I am filled with great joy to be reminded that God's love abounds for me and for you.
After Sr. Sue's talk, an insightful discussion ensued. Thoughts were tossed back and forth about all the ways this wonderful metaphor can apply to our lives as we alternate between our roles of flyer and catcher.