Then a Jesuit pal asked me, quite simply, What would you write if you weren’t afraid?
– Mark Karr, The Art of Memoir
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6
I think a lot about this unnamed man in the Bible, a man who had been disabled for nearly four decades. I often wonder how I would respond if I was him and a man walked up to me and asked if I wanted to get well. Do I want to get well? Are you kidding me?
This experience with Jesus brings questions into my mind, deep questions about myself and the things I long for. I hesitantly turn my eyes towards my many and varied illnesses.
Do I want to overcome my addictions? Or do I enjoy the numbness they deliver?
Do I want to finish writing that book? Or am I afraid of the potential apathy?
Do I want to live a simple life? Or is all this noise keeping me comfortably distracted?
Do I want…?
Of course I do.
But then a still, small voice asks again.
…but do you really?
* * * * *
At the core of what Jesus was asking this man was this: Do you dare to imagine being recreated? Do you dare to engage in a new adventure, a new way of being? Do you dare to stand when all you have done up until now is sit and wait by the water?
Which brings me back around to the Mary Karr quote: “Then a Jesuit pal asked me, quite simply, What would you write if you weren’t afraid?”
The two questions are strikingly similar:
“Do you want to be made well?”
“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?”
* * * * *
Who would you be, who would you really be, if you dared to hope again?
It’s certainly a question worth considering during these days when fear rules most of us, when companies and individuals around us stand to profit from our insecurity, our uncertainty.
Do you want to get well?
What would you do, how would you live, if you weren’t afraid?