I first saw the entrance in the heat of the dusty afternoon. It was on a side alley to a side road hidden between buildings in Muscat. It did not look particularly inviting then. At night, even less. It did not help that I did not see any movement. Nobody was going in or out. It was ghostly silent in the alley, at least as far as I went into it. In the end, I did not muster the courage or carelessness to go through the doors. I still wonder what I would have found.
Stepping into any arena takes courage and resolve. At times, I am convinced I made an informed decision to not engage. On this occasion, I am not so sure. Did fear or common-sense triumph in the face of the unknown? I think of extremes across history, with Isiah’s words coming to mind; “Then he capped it with a damning indictment: Day after day after day, I beckoned Israel with open arms and got nothing for my trouble but cold shoulders and icy stares.” (Romans 10.21)
Being informed does not always make the decision automatic. If I had a trusted wingman, I would have ventured in, at least that is what I tell myself. There may have been reasons to be cautious. What I do know is that I could have taken steps to inform myself. Candidly, I let my fear dominate. I kept my distance. I let my curiosity go unsatisfied, backing off from knowing what was beyond.
One’s past steps do not define the present ones. As I start today, I am resolved. I will seek to be open. I will work to understand. I will boldly go to where I think I can make things better. I know there are no assurances. I understand difficulties will come with my choice. I hear the cry to engage. Kindness and care are in short supply. Compassion and empathy are limited. I can be a Divine warrior, lifting those who have stumbled, defending the defenceless, and taking no prisoners. The arena awaits.