Getting real; staying clear

Imagine Having Nothing to Hide

I borrowed this title from a magazine that was marketing makeup. I had to laugh, but I still love it. What struck me about the quote this week was the word imagine. It presumes that the current state of being is having something to hide, hence the need for imagining. Even the new photon light that is supposedly bathing our planet and helping to break up our darkest and dense patterns, needs something else to work to do just that. That something is permission, and it manifests itself in openness and vulnerability. Two vivid and contrasting images caught my attention this week, and in their contrast, offered me an explanation about why I no longer practice law as a litigator. I want to help people open; not shut down in defensive fear.

When I was just a kid, my brothers took delight in scaring me. They told me that the “boogie man”, also known as the “Um” lived in our basement furnace room. Sometimes, they would rush out the door, turn the lights off, and close me in it. It was dark and terrifying, especially when the furnace kicked on and made the “um’ noise. I was sure I would die, but usually in no time, they would open the door, laughing, and let me out. Then, they told me about the upstairs demon. The one that lived under my bed. I had a small bed, so I thought it could surely see me from its vantage point below. The only thing I could think of to do was pull the covers over my eyes and lay still. It was hot as hell, and terrifying but that is where I got the insane idea that if I couldn’t see “it”, then “it” couldn’t see me.

Those experiences burned into into my memory, even though my brothers were teasing me. I learned to hide when afraid, which manifested as denial, or to become paralyzed by fear, which meant buying in to the lie of powerlessness.  I hadn’t yet developed the ability to imagine something that I couldn’t see comforting me, or keeping me safe. Today I do have that ability, and I think I’ve gone beyond imagining its presence. I actually know it’s there.

People that haven’t experienced the liberating mercy of God, still hide. We act like we are Gods, and powerful enough to out maneuver anything that threatens our ego and our freedom. It’s a painful, exhausting and soul starved way to live.

So, here is the first image.

This video brought me to tears. It is so tender and gentle; both the nurse and the baby are in a rhythmic embrace of profound intimacy.

And, that is the tragic loss, the loss of intimate connection and bonding among humans. Even defensiveness that looks like evil to you and me, lacks this elemental and life affirming ingredient.

The second image comes from the text of an AP article that described Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State Coach, after his conviction on 45 of the 48 counts against him involving criminal sexual behavior with minors. The article said that he was “pacing in his cell” (like  a caged animal I would add), and that his only comments were about maybe losing it if he didn’t get to talk to someone soon. One of the jurors said that his lack of emotion when the verdicts were read, convinced him that Mr. Sandusky was in fact guilty and they did the right thing.

I saw several photos of him being led away into custody and I was struck by that lack of emotion too. It was eerie. His lawyer described him as defiantly maintaining his innocence.

I am not going to talk about the merits of  this case here.  I have a lot of experience with child abuse and sexual exploitation. Pedophilia too. It’s just that I never could answer folks that asked me why in the world I didn’t practice criminal law, especially because I loved it and taught it. I never had a satisfactory answer. All I could say was that I couldn’t support our system of punishment because it didn’t work to rehabilitate people. Today, I think it has more to do with my pain over people that don’t open, despite a million opportunities to admit a wrong, or ask for help,  and that develop an impenetrable barrier to their heart and psyche to defend themselves. Judas did this, and Jesus and Mother Mary gave him multiple chances to repent and ask for forgiveness.

I have been hurt  by people all of my life that have closed their hearts off to me. Maybe it’s just as simple as that. My own pain writ large in their cases.

But, I also think it has something to do with stewardship of the life force. By the grace of God, I was redeemed, and freed from the bondage of addiction, shame and fear. It’s a daily balance inventory, but for the most part, I know how to get back to freedom. And, today, I choose to work with people who really want freedom; from whatever binds them. The ones that don’t, I leave them to God. I sleep better once I realized this about myself.

We have infinite opportunities to open; that is how powerfully God wants to know us. No matter what, and no matter where.


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