Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How do I know Me?

"Go to your bosom;
  Knock there;
  and ask your heart,
  what it doth know."
                                                                                             (William Shakespeare)

I slept incredibly well after my Sunday communing with the animals of East Africa and sleeping with my proudly assembled revolving fan. I intended to get out of bed around 5:30 am and head out for a run, but the combination of luxuriating in front of my fan and catching another hour of sleep quickly quelled my good intentions of beginning a disciplined exercise schedule.

Today was autobiography day. Sitting in our seats in a circle, we each had to recount our life story. The main goal of the exercise was to reflect on the people and the situations that formed us—family dynamics, aspirations,  pains and joys—and be open for very pointed and intense questions from supervisors and peers. It can be a fruitful exercise if one can remain open to the "digging" that happens when supervisors and peers begin to push deeper and further in to one's narrative. Women are better at this exercise than men. Women, being feelers, can wax on and on, while the men begin to glaze over in the first 5 minutes of her account. The exercise was also geared towards attentive listening. Women were better at that as well. The men downed pots and pots of coffee and tea, wriggled in their seats, and cleared their throats a lot.

With a puffed out chest and deep, unwavering voice, the men proceeded to recount their lives as if reading from a well rehearsed script, proceeding in a chronological, "facts-only" kind of way. The supervisors sat back and waited patiently for the right moment—then blindsided them with a series of direct, challenging and uncomfortable questions. It was an interesting phenomenon to witness—their demeanor changed. They folded like a metal folding chair—posture flexing and withdrawing as if it hurt too much to sit. Their strong voices became weak and unsure. Possibly a tear would fall. The little boy, subjugated to the depths of his inner netherworld, began to raise his little head and be recognized.  These were tender moments.

"We are only as sick as our deepest held secret." Unless those secrets are somehow set free, we will never be fully free. We all hold secrets. Behind our facades of wealth, security and "fitting in," is a child unattended.

No-one can take another's truth. My truth is my reality. Your truth is your reality. We spend our lives interpreting another's truth as a non-truth, as if we know what the only truth is. We are molded and manipulated by family, society and our faith to believe our truth is IT! We close ourselves from learning.

Make space for the other's truth. Approach others with love and concern, knowing each of us are, as Anton Boise, the "father of pastoral care" defined, "human documents" full of stories and experiences. Honor your story. Honor the other's story. We can be raised in the same house, by the same parents, but have a totally different "truth" about that upbringing.

I kept thinking about this quote:

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." (attributed to Maclaren, Philo, Plato and Socrates)

Usiku mwema, (Goodnight)
Nakupenda, (I love you)


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