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When Being Reckless Is Ok


Actually, more than ok. Good. Even right. We probably think of recklessness as being wildly out of control. Like reckless driving. Speeding. Darting in and out of lanes of traffic. Having no concern for other motorists. This kind of recklessness is dangerous. Detrimental to self and others. So, when is being reckless ok?

Here's a story for you. I've changed the names to protect the guilty. In a high school English class, the teacher suggested that the best way gain mastery over a word was to commit it to memory. She stated that by repeating a word twenty times it would become yours forever. Among the students sitting in the class was Carl who was smitten by Lucy. Hearing the encouragement to repeat a word twenty times in order to have it be yours forever, Carl blurted out "Lucy Green, Lucy Green, Lucy Green..." The class erupted with laughter. Carl didn't care. Carl wasn't even fazed by Lucy Green burying her bright red face in her hands. Carl was smitten and didn't calculate the cost of so publicly and enthusiastically declaring his desire to make Lucy his forever.

It was a reckless move on his part. He wasn't stopped by the thought that he could become the laughingstock of the class. He didn't weigh the possibility that Lucy might reject his desire after such an outburst. His public declaration of devotion didn't hurt anyone. It wasn't dangerous or destructive. It was simply reckless.

I love the photograph above. What I see is a child greeting the beauty of the sky and the land in the distance. Almost trying to embrace it. Take it into himself. How silly, we could say. I would call it reckless delight. Uncalculated joy. Sheer wonder. And it's more than ok. It's a grateful response to a magnificent sight.

William Sloane Coffin, longtime minister of Riverside Church, is quoted as saying, "I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings." By definition, really, faith is trusting or believing in something you can't prove. Someone you can't touch or see. It involves the kind of surrender that might look silly to some. A giving of oneself in ways that could be considered foolish. Leaping when it isn't logical. Loving without looking around. Living with joyful abandon. And it's more than ok. It's good. Even right. It's a beautiful response to the uncalculating acceptance of a Creator smitten by creatures such as us.

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