Truth

::BETRAYAL::

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Betrayal

Betrayal is a wicked … a wicked tool. It’s sharp as a razor, with jagged edges. It tears to shreds every good and trusting thing. It comes like a thief in the night … a thief who has carefully studied the landscape of your heart; ferreted the aching parts, the harbored parts. Made note of where deep cuts will do the most damage.

It’s filed away every hidden secret. The betrayer has convinced the trusting that they are free from danger.

Betrayal is a liar. The worst liar. The lie is, “You are safe with me. Your private truths, your woundedness … all of it is guarded here. Lean in, lean on me. Tell me all. I’ll hold it close.”

A person can only be betrayed when they have opened themselves up … they have taken a chance. Surrendered it all. Trusted.

Then, once all is sure, it comes.

The betrayer deliberately ravages the trusting.

I’m struck by what Jordan Peterson says about betrayal:

“The people I’ve seen who have been really hurt, have been hurt mostly by deceit …”

“I’ve thought for a long time that maybe people can handle earthquakes, and cancer, and even death … but they can’t handle betrayal. And they can’t handle deception. They can’t handle having the rug pulled out from underneath them by people that they love and trust. That just does them in.

“It makes them ill, but it does, it hurts them … psychophysiologically, it damages them. But more than that, it makes them cynical, and bitter, and vicious and resentful. And then they also start to act all that out in the world … and that makes it worse.”

Truth … real truth … can heal it.

Peterson is correct.

The most damaging thing a person can experience is the deliberate devastation of their heart, by the one who said “Trust me.”

God, help the healing happen in we who have been betrayed. Help it start. Please take those broken pieces, make them whole, heal them in us all.

As for me, please find the little girl inside who held the lie of trust, thinking it was truth. It is she who has been destroyed, and is hiding.

Please, Lord, bring her back. Bring her home to me. Help her know I will never let her get hurt again.

Amen.

::GONE BEFORE::

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Those Gone Before Us

There’s been a lot of loss lately. Death. People much younger than I am, going home. “Home.” And yet, here I sit, typing on my laptop. Wondering, “Why them, and not me? I’ve pretty much done all I came here to do, right?” And the answer is, apparently not. If it were true, you’d be home too, Cece. Breathe.

Sometimes I feel a fleeting pang of jealousy. They’ve reached their final reward. I grieve the loss of their presence, but I’m very clear about the fact that God’s timing is perfect. Who am I to question that? And who am I to think I’m done here … I’m the boss of me, alright, but not to that extent.

There’s much to learn from these people who have gone before. How did they live their lives? Whose lives did they touch? And when the final moment came, were they ready? I pray so. And I wonder if I’m as ready as I think I am …”All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

I’ve seen the accounts of people who were pronounced ‘legally dead‘ but who ended up coming back. They’re still with us. What they said, every one of them, is that they had to be told, “It’s not your time. You must go back.” In other words, they were happy to be where they were: home.

The world is a chaotic place. So many people of divergent opinions are positively convinced that they are correct. Protocol is gone, respect for self and others seems dwindling. I remember the saying, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” I doubt many people even know what than means today. For the uninitiated, it means it is better to be prudent than merely courageous. Mind your mouth, and your choices. In other words: thoughtful. Be thoughtful.

I asked my attorney one day, in the midst of my divorce, “What should I do?” She said, “Go home. Plant flowers.” That was almost thirty years ago, and the weight of that advice has never left me. It’s saying, plant flowers to show your hope for tomorrow. Even if your time is up, you’ve made the world a more beautiful place.

Since then, I’ve given that same advice to others in counseling sessions; I think of it when I plant flowers today.

No one lives forever. But blessed are we who are still here and bear witness to the gifts left by those who are gone; the music, art, kindness, architecture, love, heart-stopping light – each individual “Magnum Opus,” are the flowers planted for us all.

Let’s live our lives, big and bright, as thankful celebration in their honor.

::All I Am::

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All I AmThere are certain things I’d never call myself. Beautiful, for example, is one. Extensively educated, at least in the formal sense of the word, is another. Lord knows I’ve learned a gracious plenty, but the really important lessons rarely happened in the classroom.

Life starts telling us who we are early on. As little ones, we’re blank slates, eager for the information. And we don’t know better than to swallow whole what adults tell us about ourselves.

When I was three years old, one of my dad’s friends, who I only knew as Cuz, called me “muscles.”

Even at that young age, it felt like a bad thing. I didn’t want muscles. I wanted blonde curls and blue eyes like my cousin Joanie.  But there I was, a sturdy little girl with black ringlets and hazel eyes. A kid who in summer turned brown as a biscuit in ten minutes flat.

On the playground at school, the nuns would cluck disapprovingly as we lined up to go back inside. “Cecelia’s voice carries. You can hear her above all the other children.”

I remember, at around ten, being at my Nanny’s house in the summer. Old lady North, who lived the next street over, would come across the alley and in the back door for coffee. I dreaded that woman.

“Myers,” she’d say to my grandmother while studying me, “I think this child is an Indian.” Then she’d reach out and take hold of  my upper arm. “She’s brown as an Indian,” she’d say. Nanny didn’t argue. She just passed the half and half, lit another Chesterfield, and changed the subject.

As innocuous as they may have been at the time, those descriptions from the grownups in my childhood delivered the bad news to my sense of self. They informed me about who I was.

And the fact that after so many years I can still go back to those moments, see those people, observe them observing me, tells me just how impactful the comments were.

It’s taken decades. But eventually and deliberately I let go of my tendency to be defined by what was said long ago. In fact, those statements serve me well now. They’ve made me pay attention.

When I talk to children, I’m purposeful with what I say to them about who they are. Because the words adults use have staying power; they will frame – for a while, or forever – how those kids feel about themselves.

And when they think back, I want to have contributed tender words about their own beautiful truths.

::Shoeless Joe and Me::

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SHOELESS JOE 2

God knows I gave my best in baseball at all times, and no man on earth can truthfully judge me otherwise.” – Shoeless Joe Jackson

I got up this morning, flipped on the TV, and discovered−happily−that Field of Dreams had just started.

Field of Dreams has to be one of my all time favorite movies. It’s about listening to that voice inside, following your gut, and discovering that the dreams you dream are often found in places and forms you least expect.

The movie centers on a family who lives on a farm in Iowa. The man−Ray−plows under a huge portion of his land and turns it into a baseball field. He goes all the way, with flood lights and bleachers. His extended family and the town community are skeptical, they say he’s lost his mind. But his wife, Annie, and his daughter, Karin, stand by him.

Ball players who’ve passed away show up on Ray’s field. But the only people who can see them are Ray, his wife Annie, and daughter Karin. The ball players are invisible to the cynics. Which only reinforces their contempt for the whole set up.

One of the ball players who shows up on Ray’s field is Shoeless Joe Jackson. That jogged my memory, and I started thinking; I knew there’d been a scandal that forced Shoeless Joe out of baseball, but what was it? What did Joe do?

So I read up on what’s called, “the Black Sox Scandal.” Joseph Jefferson “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and seven teammates on the Chicago White Sox were accused of conspiring with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

But here’s where it gets interesting: Joe claimed that his teammates gave his name to the gamblers even though he never agreed to participate. And the teammates admitted that Joe never attended the meetings where the fix was discussed and arranged.

There’s no debate that, during the games in question, Shoeless Joe played his ass off−throwing nothing, and hitting everything.

Joe and his teammates were acquitted following a jury trial in 1921, but newly appointed baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis barred them all from professional baseball, for life.

Jackson always claimed his innocence. He contended that teammates got him to sign a document of confession he didn’t fully understand.

That is very likely; Shoeless Joe could not read or write.

Ever since the 1921 ruling, folks have continued to fight to restore Shoeless Joe’s name.

People who knew Joe were clear: he couldn’t be guilty. Joe was the kind of guy everybody wanted as a friend. He was an honest man with a huge heart, and his love of kids was even bigger.

Today I was told that an appeal sits on the Commissioner’s desk right now, to clear Shoeless Joe Jackson from the lifetime ban. This would allow Jackson to take his rightful place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Many fans are waiting for word on the decision, eager to see the ban removed, and to gather in Cooperstown to at long last celebrate Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Shoeless Joe died on December 5, 1951. So he will not be present for any induction. But he lived his life, and died, knowing the truth about himself. I trust that gave him some comfort in the dark moments.

So I’m watching this amazing movie, wiping my eyes when Ray meets his departed dad, John, and thinking of my own situation.

I feel passionately for Shoeless Joe Jackson, in part because I know what it’s like to be falsely and publicly accused. And I know how, even after being declared innocent, the stain of accusation remains.

Many people you once knew as close friends look at you through that distant lens of “guilty even though proven innocent.” It is a buckling burden; a yoke I’m still getting used to.

I remind myself that the wheel turns slowly, but it does turn. Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t. But it really does.

In the movie I hear Ray’s dad, John, ask Ray,
“Is this heaven?” Ray says,
“It’s Iowa. Is there a heaven?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s where dreams come true.” Ray responds,
“Maybe this is heaven.”

I muffle a sob, and remind myself that it all evens out in the end.

And if Shoeless Joe could bear up under all that till he finally reached his own Field of Dreams − I will, too.

::TRUTH LIVES HERE::

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Hand World

Truth is something I think most claim to be aligned with. Many people swear they are always on a quest for truth. But I wonder: does anyone know what they’re saying? And if they do, do they really mean what they say?

I go through deliberate periods of brutal self-examination. I’ll confess, I don’t do it as often as I should. But when I’m in the process of it, I have a “no bullshit” rule; I force myself to face the true things about me and how I view life. It’s not fun. It can be exhausting, and humbling. But to live authentically, or “in truth,” isn’t it crucial? For me, the answer is yes.

I think we want to believe we are who we claim to be. But pretty much always, in many ways (sometimes most ways) we’re just not; it’s very easy to get off track and not even know it. And to not even think about that possibility.

We often choose positions and embrace opinions about things, and then “back the information in” that will support what we’ve already decided. It’s true. We all do it.

And we gravitate to others who agree, because it’s so much easier to surround ourselves with people on every strata who reaffirm our stories. … Then we can convince ourselves that what we’ve chosen to believe is authoritative; good, and noble. Being a member of such a group renders us reassuringly superior. It’s great to feel so right.

With the best of intentions, we dress our parsing, our denial, in beautiful stories … stories of bravery and justification; stories of righteousness and independence.

And yet, truth just sits there. It does not shout. It does not defend itself or try to convince. Nor does truth move, or shrink, or change, based on our opinion about it, or our unwillingness to acknowledge it.

Every night, when the darkness comes, and we lay our heads down on our pillows, that truth … that quiet, unassuming truth that lives at the center of every good thing … revisits our hearts. We know. In that deepest part, we all know.

And every night, in each of these quiet, private moments shimmers an opening; the chance to say “yes” to the rattling of our tidy preconceptions. Relaxing our hold is the willingness through which we can climb, into a world fraught with things that were, things that are; a vast universe of open-ended questions and limitless possibilities. The mysterious and miraculous are waiting for us there.

It only takes one brave, courageous moment to let it pull us out of our defensive rightness.

Just once, let’s refuse to roll over, turn our backs to it; let’s refuse to continue the nurturing of our own self contempt.

This one small choice; this different choice – when applied in enough hearts – is sure to transform this weary, broken world.

::PEACE, AND WHERE IT’S HIDING::

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Woman Arms Outstretched

Y’know, I have my phases or *periods*, sort of like Picasso. Maybe we all do, I can’t really say. But mine usually include the following:

*Reflective (can get preachy, but means well);

*Outrageous (some would call this one “obnoxious with fits of long, deep laughter” … );

*Tenderhearted (the part who wants to scoop up every hurting baby/child/person);

*Pragmatic (the “let’s just get this crap done and behind us” part);

*Maria Von Trapp (the part that wants to organize all of civilization into groups, make their clothing out of drapes, and have everybody sing in three part harmony, and in rounds)… I’m sure there are others, these are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

And so … *FAIR WARNING* … I’m in *reflective* mode today, and have been thinkin about this for awhile now:

When all’s said and done, I truly believe that all people, everywhere, want fundamentally the same thing. We all want to be loved, to be heard, to feel like our presence on earth matters. We all want to be safe, to live a happy and a peaceful life; we long to use our gifts to express our celebration of life.

When asked what they want, many celebrities state that they want an end to war, to have peace in the land. They speak for us all, really. We all want that. But I believe that we are blinded to the path that will lead us there. We have come to believe, many of us, that governments, or ideologies, will “give us” that. That if we vote for the right political candidates, they will bring this peace about. They, quite simply, cannot. But here’s the interesting truth:
They don’t have to “give” this to us. We already have it.

See, here’s the deal: Inside each of us, buried deeply at our core, beneath the belief of our absolute unworthiness, in there snuggled up next to our burgeoning self-contempt … there lives our truth: a thriving, pulsating, everlasting *light* … the very light we crave shines and waits inside of us; it was restored to perfection by our Redeemer’s purchase. But we live our lives in shadowy darkness, as if the gift was never given; like it never arrived.

And let me tell ya, the ego has worked one heck of an insidious job, convincing us that it is noble when we beat our breasts and declare our own revolting state. This is a self-manifesting prophecy … and it is the one that breeds envy, resentment, covetousness, greed, anger, jealousy … all the “deadlies” (and they are fatal) … ultimately the sense that we must “fight for what is rightfully mine.” This all comes from that seed of “lack.” These elements are at the center of every war, every murder, every scam, every betrayal … every corrupt company, government; every violation of real peace comes from fundamental self contempt.

And notice this: the beliefs we hold about ourselves are reflected perfectly in how we treat others. It can be no other way. When you see someone behaving negatively to others, or when you see someone relating with gentle kindness, think about that one. *Profound* truth.

It is the brave Spirit who awakens to their own authenticity and is willing, in the midst of naysayers, to reveal that to the world.

And it will continue to be a brave thing, until it is not. Until enough people start digging internally, determined to live a “self-examined life.” Then it will become the *norm*, and we will have returned to the Garden. But we go there by conscious choice, and one by one.

May each individual find the courage to *live* from their Spirit.
This is how we will change the world. ~ ♥ ~

::SAFE HARBOR::

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SAND AND SEA

I got back from the beach last night. On my morning walks by the shore I harvested a few beautiful shells. Now I stand at the kitchen sink with my coffee, lower them into the basin of water.
And my mind drifts …

“Come out of your shell.” Or, “She needs to come out of her shell.” I’ve heard it said about others, I’ve heard it said about me−both sincerely and sarcastically, as in , “Umm, girlie, you need to climb back into your shell; you’re a little ‘too far out’.”

But the shell thing−like sea urchins or snails−what a Divine idea. To carry your protection on your back; to be able at a moment’s notice to dodge any bullet simply by “climbing in.”

If I could have, I would have. Especially in the nineties. Those were ‘the paranoid years’. The time when my hair fell out in clumps. I knew people were whispering about me through the soup cans at the grocery store. One of the things Tim did was he copied my journal, rewrote it, then showed it to everyone he could think of. Hell yes, I wanted a shell. One that could hold a woman in her forties, protect her from the man who’d claimed to love her; one where she could cry every tear until they made an ocean she could float away on.

I run the water till it’s a little warm, and begin massaging each of the small, ridged shapes with my fingertips until their pearly surfaces become visible.

Some say time heals wounds. But it never says anything about what you’re supposed to do while the healing happens. Sit on the floor, back corner of the closet? That was a favorite spot. Fall asleep on the couch, with the TV on? That happened more times than I can count. Get home from your therapist, pace for twenty four hours, watching the clock til it’s time to get in the car and head back to her office? For months I did that. She saved my life.

Those experiences−the closet floor, the couch, Dr. High’s office−they never felt like healing at all. They felt like one big gyroscopic attempt to hang on. I thought the spinning would never level out, that I would never find solid ground. But the truth is, I did. And healing happened.

When I think about the woman I was then, I am moved by her pain; by her need to hide away. I want to reach back and hold her. I want to tell her it will be okay. Tell her that, believe it or not, she’ll survive. And she’ll be glad she did.

I swish the water gently and choose a shell, think of the moment I picked it from the sand. I turn this delicate vessel over in my hand. It is a profound reminder of protection and release.

Where have the creatures gone? Perhaps they found other shells for safe harbor. Perhaps their time came to transition, becoming one with the flotsam and jetsam. Or perhaps they are braving this world like I am−out of my shell, ready to move forward into whatever this day and this life will bring.

::THE TRUTH, OR SOMETHING LIKE IT::

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Girl In Chair - Jessie Wilcox Smith

Lately the world seems like it’s spinning out of control. People who in years passed could “agree to disagree” now act ready to destroy anyone who fails to share and to celebrate their point of view. So, in large part, I’ve gone pretty silent. I think many people have; that makes me weary and sad. And confused. No matter which way you go, it feels a little dangerous out there.

When I was a girl, I can remember sitting quietly in a chair at my grandmother’s, listening to my Daddy and my uncles talk animatedly about politics, religion, how high the mower blade should be set so the grass won’t brown out in the summer heat. Their voices would raise and lower, there were long pauses. Then they’d talk over each other, louder and louder, things like, “Nonono, you got it all wrong on that one …” It was bold, lively, and strong. One thing it never was is hate filled. Or mean.

When they’d finally had enough–because no minds were changed during their debates, or if they were no one admitted it at the time–the men headed to the kitchen for another cold beer. I was still in my chair; I could hear them popping off the beer caps and laughing together.

For me as a kid there was something so reassuring and grounding about those eavesdropping episodes. I learned that the people I loved most could fiercely disagree, and still throw their arms around each other. I learned that when hearts are good and true, the opinions carried by those who love each other do not stand as executioner of relationships when positions don’t line up. My Uncle John and Uncle Jim, Uncle Ferd and Uncle Leo were no less connected to me and mine after those conversations than they were before. In fact, the experience of being a seven year old “fly on the wall” taught me that these moments were the fire that forged stronger relationships, not weaker ones. Those men were staunchly opinionated, but they could also laugh at themselves when they needed to. Looking back I realize that I learned something else on those afternoons at grandmother’s: to not take myself seriously.

Today, Uncle Leo is the only one still with us. I was thinking about that crew this afternoon, and I wonder: are there still people on this planet who engage in Sunday afternoon discourse, where they share ideas and different points of view with passion, but with no fear of retribution or retaliation? Are there people out there, anywhere, who love each other enough to risk disagreement? Are there people it’s safe to trust? Can anyone disagree without becoming the enemy, or being verbally belittled? Is it safe to be oneself anywhere?

I don’t know the answer. But here’s what I wish: I wish every kid could climb into a chair in their grandmother’s living room on a Sunday afternoon, and listen to the men in their lives verbally duke it out. Then I wish they could observe those same men head to the kitchen for a cold drink, laughing and cutting up as if nothing had happened. Because the truth is, so much happened. It’s a heart-deep lesson about how people truly love, how they navigate, how they get into and out of verbal challenges with their relationships, and their integrity, intact.

And it’s about the importance of leaving the grass at least four inches long in hot weather.