Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hidden Spirits

“How do you lift spirits that are hiding and refusing to come out?”

This is the question directed to me by a new acquaintance last week. And, before I could respond, the person initiating the question informed me that they had decided to retreat behind the walls of their familiar fortress of sarcasm and feign indifference to the matter.

I am left, therefore, to offer an answer to the question, posed in a moment of fleeting openness, and hope that even if that person does not choose to consider it … perhaps Life has someone else at a point of readiness or need for this thought. For, I readily recall that on more than one instance, in my own life, the same perplexing query challenged my mind. So, I ask that you consider, with me, the possibilities in this idea.

For, My Dear Friend, the answer to why we have some aspect of our Self “hiding” and not allowing our conscious awareness to address it … just may simply be … Fear. That’s right … we do indeed hide parts of ourselves away from the dangers of ridicule, rejection, disapproval, and belittlement. And, unfortunately, the source of all of those negative responses is, all too often, ourselves. So we are saving ourselves the perceived possibly of conflict with ourselves … as well as all of the world round about us. Which leaves us still with the question … “What to do?”

The easy (yes … it can, indeed, be easy) answer is … create an environment that will be supportive, respectful, and honoring of all elements of our particular and individual inclinations, appetites, opinions, and persuasions. Generate a space, in thought and in practice, that validates the innate worth of that “spirit” that is seeking the shelter and protection of concealment. Accept and then rest in the knowledge that every element of each of us has merit. And should be treated with dignity and respect (whether it is socially, politically, or culturally “correct”, or not.)

To the rescue; Dr. Edwin O. Timmons of L.S.U. (Louisiana State University.) Now settle back a bit and consider, with me, what Dr. Timmons had to offer. He illustrated this conflict between the all-inclusive ME and the ME that I allow myself to acknowledge, and make known to others… as an ONION. That’s right, your garden variety vegetable (or whatever an onion is.) It was his idea that if we were to chart a description of our natural Creator-given traits and connected the points on that chart with a line we would have our true inner selves represented by what he called “our inner zigzag.” Pretty high-tech stuff huh? Bear with us now, it gets better, I promise. Let’s suppose that when we first make some expression of our little “zigzag” our expression is met (probably by Mommy) with some form of rejection or reproof “no, no, mustn’t do that…” We, for the first time in our fledgling experience, modify our behavior to avoid conflict or gain acceptance and/or approval. This “layer of behavior” Dr. Timmons referred to as an “onionskin” of behavior put in place to protect our ever-sensitive “zigzag.” That “spirit” that we hide away behind our protective “onionskins.”

Over the years of our lives, we develop, through countless experiences with innumerable persons in myriad circumstances, an infinite number of these layers of behaviors that insulate our inner-selves from any chance of hurt to ourselves or offense to others to whom we feel responsible. So what my friends recognized as ME … and I permit myself to accept an awareness of … was the carefully accumulated “onion” that I, with the best of intent, had painstakingly surrounded my fragile inner spirit-self with. This is what I give license to be perceived from without.

Now … with this insight, perhaps we can relax a bit, and put out a “welcome mat” for those aspects of our Being that have been, heretofore, so painfully repressed. “It’s all cool!” we can tell ourselves, “All that I am is valuable and worthy of my acceptance, respect, and yes, even celebration. And I will accept nothing less from those who would be my life companions. What I am, and who I am is my gift from the Creator. And I am grateful.”

With my sincere gratitude to the One who sent that original question to me … and my loving desire for those who may benefit from this little insight to find something of use in my expression … I bid you, Dear Reader, all kindness and happiness as we walk this life-path together.

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