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Life on the Wild Edges

Ever heard the term “wild edges”? My friends have. And, God bless him, my sweet husband has more than he’d like to have. It’s a pet term of mine, so I tend to bring it up now and then in hopes someone else will want to explore, conversationally speaking, life’s “wild edges” with me. Maybe the words wild and edge elicit enough discomfort that others rarely take the bait and ask what on earth I mean.

As a gardener, I’m keenly aware that, along the lines where two different types of ground meet, things just seem to grow faster, and somehow crazier. Last night we feverishly pulled the creeping spring weeds from the landscape edging so they’d stop overrunning my tidily mulched ornamental grasses. The war had raged for days; I think we won the battle. Living things like those weeds do so with vigor. From the moment God spoke world into being, life has been aggressive, whether we see it or not. And everywhere two different kinds of life meet, there’s a dynamic boundary line. That is the wild edge.

You can see the wild edges in every facet of life if you know to look. Consider the edge of a pond here the grassy meadow ends; plants grow more vigorously and flying insects seem to rush the perimeter. You’ve surely seen two people of very different political ideals but up against one another; there you’ll find either internalized frustration or a fireworks display .

But there’s one wild edge that monopolizes my attention every day: the odd line between the mortal and the immortal, the natural and the supernatural, my earthly self of flesh, and my supernatural life of spirit. I find navigating this line complicated and awe-inspiring, frustrating and joyous, confounding, compelling and, yes, many times comforting. The question that dances through my mind, sometimes tapping at my psyche more than I’d like, is how exactly how am I to walk in human steps an earthly life guided by spiritual ideals? As a Christian, exactly how do I navigate between earth and heaven? How does my Creator/Father want me, any given day, to get this right- trusting my own judgment and ability while simultaneously waiting on His leading, His plan? There’s an undefined line between actively using the faculties He gave me, and waiting, trusting, and leaning on Him- both of which He asks us as His children to do. If I simply default to one or the other, how will I bear “fruit” that lasts, let alone just live well. This is certainly a wild edge.

As a life coach, I help others discover their spiritual design and calling and use their natural earthly resources to walk it out. It’s not always clear for them, nor is it for me, when to move and when to wait, when to lean on God, and when He wants me to step out in faith despite apparent silence from Him. Evelyn Underhill* shed some light on this for me. She wrote that, in order to “temper the natural resources of man to His supernatural work” there are two things we’d best prioritize: Communion with God and discipline of self. This wild edge benefits from time spent lingering long enough to know the Designer/Creator of me and everything else. As I do, it makes sense that I’d surrender my limited earthly self to His limitless self. And, ever-cognizant of the dynamic growth available there, it makes sense that I’d be ever-ready to hold my earthly self in check, knowing who holds all the resources and the original plan for my life anyway. *Evelyn Underhill; The House of the Soul and Concerning the Inner Life

Wild edges just need attending to; we don’t always need to act when we traverse or just sit and observe them. There will be growth along this line of tension where matter, people, ideas, or things immortal meet symbiotically or grapple vigorously, though that growth may not be what we, with white-knuckled grip on our rakes and hoes, had in mind. Attending to one side of the wild edge and then the other is a rhythmic step which, woven into our moments, days, and years, is sufficient for flourishing. Lingering there, eyes and ears, heart and mind open and expectant, we will find the growth will work out in our favor, one day by His hand alone, another by His hand through mine as a supple glove, fitting and willing. It’s a dance far more wonderful than a day, hour, or lifetime spent avoiding every wild edge.

Are there wild edges in your life that could use your attention? Can you detect the dynamic growth there? If so, what’s that like? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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