Searching the Fringes

Today, winter unleashed her full rage.

Picture courtesy of Mark Askins

Bitter cold winds gnaw at the threads of my purple down coat. I stuff my hands in my pockets because I left my gloves inside. Frosty pale clouds hide the moon, and the flood lights shine out over my sloping yard. Tethered to my right hand, Ginger tugs at her leash bouncing in circles, trying her best to dart farther than the six feet allowed. I really don’t enjoy our night time walks because they scare me just a little.

I would rather stay close to the light, the safe zone, the place of certainty.

Close to the house, the light floods the porch and twenty feet into my yard. Living in the middle of no where, I imagine all sorts of things lurking in the shadows. Snakes, raccoons, coyotes, rabid dogs–anything could jump out, attack me from the imposing woods. I tug gently on Ginger’s leash all the while knowing she will drag me closer to the fringes, closer to my uncomfortableness. But my Ginger doesn’t like to stay in those well-lit twenty feet. She wants to search the fringes. The place where the light meets the scraggly tree specters, the place where I can’t see my next step, the place where darkness overpowers light. The fringes.

But I don’t want to go near the fringes.

In the light, I am certain of everything. But life can’t be lived well if we don’t venture beyond what we know is safe.  Too often, I refuse to leave my illusion of safety, to risk being away from the light, to search the fringes. Most of my life, I shied away from those risky fringes. When I chose to major in English, I knew I would teach rather than write. Why? It was safe. The fringes of risk beckoned, but I didn’t move toward them. My feet firmly planted in the bright, blinding light because I believed God only gave us safe, antiseptic choices. His will intertwined with maintaining our comfort, with working in rational ways.

Sometimes, we must search the fringes.

I wish in all of my church going days that someone would have motioned me toward the fringes. But it pushed me towards the sensible things–marriage, family, domestic endeavors. All wonderful things, but far away from those dark fringes where faith and grace await. The places where it is risky, the place where God wants us to go, the place where faith overpowers our delusions of safety. The fringes give God a place to show us who He is, to illuminate His Will. But first, we must get out of the light, the safe zone. I admit that I don’t really know how to leave my safe zone. I never have. When I read about the glorious risks others attempt, I feel that tug towards the fringe, towards the uncertain.

This year, I resolve to search the fringes.

To understand God, beyond my safety zone. I want to explore those wild, dark and risky places where Grace awaits. I need to learn how to escape this prison of safety.

Question: How do you search the fringes?



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One thought on “Searching the Fringes

  1. I understand this so well. Like you I’ve chosen everything safe my entire life and now I’m feeling that tug toward the fringes. I’m not sure how to search them either, but somehow I know I have to. Great post.

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