When we open ourselves up to others, whether present in person or present in print, we risk confrontation. Dillard caught me carelessly unguarded when she finished her chapter with an unexpected flare of words.
The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
I have a penetrating fear, deep down, that if I share some of my deeper passions and ideas, the things I have mistakenly tied up with my identity, things brewing in me for my next book project, that they will be taken or exploited. I have a fear that what is bubbling out of me will be stolen. It isn't irrational, because I've seen it before--in my life, in others'.
The love that Jesus poured out flowed all the way to the cross. His love allowed exploitation. He reached for people to give them sight, knowledge, the Way to the Father.
My fear keeps that love from flowing.
A friend at church raise a question the other day, "What is the opposite of love?" he asked. I don't think 'hate.' Hate is too passionate to be the opposite; the question required a less obvious answer.
"What do you think?" I responded.
"Fear," he said.
Then another friend, a retired public school teacher, said something to me as I left the church house. "If you want to get someone done, don't expect to take credit for it."
Do you think God whispers through community? You betcha. Drop your guard and he'll stare your fear in the face.