Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have said many times I wish that I could be a famous author for one reason in particular.  That I might write the real story, the truth about myself and people would like me for it, instead of shy away.  Yes, I might change some names and circumstances, but I would still be able to say it, one way or another. The greatest movies, novels, biographies are all similar in that they expose the struggle of our human deficit, the inadequacies we all secretly share.  There is such relief to see  expressions of our lacking manifested in another. We are thrilled to see that we are not alone.  We attach to these characters…the heroes or heroines of failure.  We tie ourselves to their journey and hope to see  meaning, that the dark days of their own decisions or circumstance will carry on to see a break of light over the horizon. When they find this, in one way or another, we are somehow relieved. There is hope for us as well. 

These fictional people are given much credit for their awareness of their own shortcomings.  In these  stories, each bit of misfortune or lack of loyalty to their deepest conscience is actually what makes the book worth reading, the movie worth watching. It is the fist fight with themselves in the mud that changes them, and connects them to us.  Without these inner and outer conflicts, there could be no story at all. Without contention, there is no growth, no journey, no resolve.

And so, I wonder at why we cannot expose these pieces of ourselves in our own lives?  I speak of the untidy, confused inner person that makes mistake after mistake. The one whose mind often wonders if it is the darkest of them all, the greediest and most perverse, lacking any true faith. The one that overthrows a foe only to turn back to it and kneel, again and again. I speak of me, and you, and all of us, if we were to be honest.  Why not write out the story for everyone to read?  In short, to freely proclaim our own humanness. It seems the camaraderie of our deficiencies  would stretch out, a safe and endless shelter for everyone who is lacking.  Instead we present the best of ourselves so to speak.  The meticulously clothed and manicured versions. And yet we wonder why we leave fellowship so dissatisfied?  

I read once that it is perfectly good for everyone at some point to strip down to nothing and pray in a mirror.  To have a good look at yourself,  skin prickling at the thought of its own nakedness. There, eye to eye with your own, you realize that you are and always have been right there inside of you.  No matter what you are wearing, showing the world, you really are just this.  Nothing can be purchased or accomplished that takes this nakedness away.

The journey changes the flesh. We stand and look to see sagging breasts or too much or too little where things used to be smooth and hard. My stomach is a place where other human bodies were formed and then released, leaving me not as I once was.  Age, scars, life changes our nakedness, and yet who could call these changes ugly? Bodies that bring life, tell stories. The pain and stretching is the very way we all continue.  The act of really looking at yourself  somehow makes wordly worries a lot less significant, less brutal.  Being naked has a way of reminding me.  

So I wonder this....  What if we were to all undress?  What if we let ourselves realize, that under these outfits and beneath the makeup and layers we are all just skin and bones, tissue and blood.  What if we stood close to one another's struggles as mirrors, with complete compassion and the joy that we are all as one? One endless stretch of body. The story marked in the crevices of skin may differ,  yet we are somehow all the same.

I have always wondered how I might love my neighbor as myself. And I think the answer is equally simple and one that comes with the greatest price. We can indeed love our neighbors as ourselves, if we are willing to stand out in our own yards, naked to the world. The wet grass around our ankles, with nothing to cover us but air and light. If we expose ourselves, the opportunity for others to connect occurs.  If I willingly expose all my glorious imperfections, and am honest with what I am (especially to myself), then loving others is natural, because we finally see each other clearly. We see ourselves, eye to eye, body to body.

This is the great longing, one that we try to fulfill through stories, that we hear in lyrics and read between bindings. The problem is that these  brave and bruised strangers are safe and distant. I love a good movie, or to hold the pages of a persons story in my hands, but I'd rather see and hear it from the breathing, the tangible. And it is there surely...hidden is the mud splattered bodies of my community, my neighbors, me, fresh out of the dirt, scarred and bloodied. And what greater love is this? That God created a way for our deepest pains and shortcomings to be the bond.  Imperfection the link to hold us together, pushing ever towards freedom and joy.  

Its all in our story…..

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