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Naked, and Unashamed

“If we could admit how bad things are, that would be the beginning of something good, of a kind of radical honesty with ourselves. That would inspire a certain compassion for one another because we would understand that we’re all in the same boat, all shipwrecked. To confess the wounded, fractured condition of our lives—that is who we are! And that would be the beginning of wisdom in deconstruction, of something good. If everyone actually believed that, if everybody acted on that, there would be better political processes and better relationships. If people actually believed that they really don’t know in some deep way what is true, we would have more modest and tolerant and humane institutions.”  –  John Caputo

A friend posted that quote yesterday. I responded:

We hide so much. We lie so much. We fear so much. This keeps us away from love.

If we can come to be honest about our heartbreak, about our terror, about the ways in which failure dogs us, or hope makes us feel insecure, if we can come to be honest about our need to feel desired, our quest for recognition, the ways in which we have been hurting, and have hurt others, the ways in which we found laughter and joy, or worked through some pain…we can come to better know ourselves. We can come to better know one another. We can develop true compassion. We can know the world. We can imagine something better than ambition for money or power over others. We can imagine a place where we truly meet one another, truly see one another, where we stop playing status games: baring our necks or lording it over one another. In doing this, we open more fully to the flow of love. We heal.

There have been many things planted in the soil of my life, things that have grown into a person, an adult, a human still figuring out how to more fully love the world.

I have grown through alienation. I have grown through being slapped full force across my face for a failure to swim while scared, or for being thought to have disobeyed, or for… I have grown through being told I was ugly by those who were supposed to love me. I have grown through insecurity. I have grown through listening late at night, not sleeping, not sure if things were safe. I have grown through watching my brothers get beaten. I have grown through deep seated anger, like a heat in my body. I have grown through “are you a boy or a girl?” I have grown through hating and loving in the same heartbeat. I have grown through sickness. I have grown through my working class father’s failed ambitions and through my mother’s fear and inaction. I have grown through chronic physical pain. I have grown through lack of feeling beautiful, through feeling continuously undesired. I have grown through learning to throw a punch. I have grown through heartbreak. I have grown through betrayal. I have grown. 

I also know that all this pain is not the whole of my parts. Those moments are not the only moments. But admitting the pain was part of coming to heal. Admitting anger was part of coming into power. Admitting grief enabled my ability to feel loved.

What lies are we still telling ourselves and each other? What are we hiding, and why? What are we holding outside the stream of love?

Sometimes we still don’t feel safe enough to, as bell hooks so eloquently puts it. “…face one another as we really are, stripped of artifice and pretense, naked and not ashamed.”

Before we can face one another, we need to be able to face ourselves. We need to observe our emotions, actions, thoughts, words, sensations, postures, and actions. We need to look into the mirror of the world and ask: what do I reflect, and what is reflecting me?  At least, that is how it has worked for me.

The darkness can be frightening; it can also be a fecund place for planting something new. 

We can meet on fertile ground, watered by tears and sweat, spit and sex. We can meet on fertile ground, a ground growing with things planted deeply in our darkness, straining toward the light.

Love to you, whoever you are, and whoever you are becoming.

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