With Arms Wide Open

I am certain you remember that famous scene from the Titanic where Rose is standing in the ship’s bow with open arms in Jack’s arms. It was “the” scene of the movie I think. What does having our arms wide open mean? I meditated on that subject during a short trip to South Padre Island, Texas. Our campsite was right across the street from the “Cristo de los Pescadores,” (Christ of Fishermen); an Italian sculpture donated by the family of two fishermen who died tragically during a fishing expedition. The Christ has his arms wide open, under the sunlight like the Christian rock band Creed song lyrics. It is a beautiful sculpture.

Maybe because I grew up near the coast is that I enjoy watching  shrimping boats at sea. I find their shape spiritual in some way but  had not realized they also sail with arms wide open. Under the sunlight or in darkness they keep their arms wide open hopeful I’m sure for a good and plentiful catch. But I realized that even though they return from a disappointing trip, they still have their arms open for I don’t think there is an option.

It takes some confidence and faith to open your arms like Rose just try it and you will see. It exposes our chests in complete trust for whatever comes our way. It sort of feels like losing our imaginary shield; like going to war with no protection and pure faith and trust in ourselves. To me that is beyond hard. Having the courage to do so is important and I want to give it a shot.

“It takes courage being a painter. I always feel like I walked on the edge of a knife,” said Georgia O’Keeffe. As an artist, I admire her work, but it is her strength and determination that made her the artist and person she was. This feeling applies especially to women in all professions not just artists. To walk on the edge of a knife AND with arms wide open is a real challenge. Can I do it? not really sure, but will certainly give it a shot! I have to start with removing the option to close my arms like the shrimp boats. Let life hit me in the chest as much as it wants – I will keep the faith. When it comes to sea life I’m more like an oyster or a clam; isolated and afraid.

Watching Christ every day standing with arms wide open reminded me that he is the shield, not me. It has taken me a couple of decades to know that faith in God is the answer to issues such as overcoming insecurity and overcoming unfortunate circumstances. I’ve also learned that God is not a Santa Claus to ask for whatever we want or need. Christ is a friend, a close friend, to talk to in good and bad times. To thank him  for his immense love and all the things we own and enjoy, in bad times ask him for help.  He will respond. I’ve experienced so many miracles that I can assure you he listens to us. The hard part is knowing that – notice I wrote knowing not believing.

Having experienced such blessings and having witnessed a good number of miracles, I often wonder why I am not a confident woman, but I am nowhere near being confident. Life has hit me hard and I’ve run to my shell where I write and paint.

The COVID-19 crisis we are experiencing supports my cloistered life, but God always manages to send me messages to keep the faith and live life with arms wide open. He has been doing this for a long time and I still don’t really get it. This time his message was packaged in sunny days by the sea watching the boats go by. He tends to coddle us that way.


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