The blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul.
Parker Palmer is stunningly honest—both with regard to himself and the human condition. He exposes one such feature that he judges at the heart of our fears: “Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the ‘integrity that comes from being what you are.’” Palmer clarifies further as he draws from Rumi, ‘If you are here unfaithfully with us / you’re causing terrible damage.’
To live out an undivided existence in our relationships, in quietness, at work, great power and peace is unleashed. It seems we are completely unaware of the extent to which we give and receive form. When we encounter one another, two souls igniting the energy one with the other, each is changed—for better or worse—but, changed, nonetheless. So, when I am operating from an identity that is covered by one façade after another, my imprint on another is false and flawed, capable of “causing terrible damage.” It must be that we are completely ignorant of this, or would we not do all we can to keep from causing such harm?
Our culture has spent a great deal of time, money, bandwidth, spoon-feeding us the myriad ways others have harmed us (the pretense being to understand begets healing—which can be true on some levels). Yet, when do I move past how I have been harmed to notice the fragmented soul within me that I cannot recognize? When do I make this frightening journey to chisel the layered façade, to live out of wholeness? Palmer reflects on his visits to his favorite wilderness spot devastated by a storm. He notes that “on each visit since, I have been astonished to see how nature uses devastation to stimulate new growth, slowly but persistently healing her own wounds.” Yes, there is devastation all around. Still more, devastation has been exacted on us. To cover the truth of who we are as Image-bearers, however, stunts the beautiful growth that fights to emerge. I’m not sure about you, but I am tired of the cover up. Parker Palmer says it well when he cautions, “we cannot embrace that challenge all alone, at least, not for long.” I am looking for “trustworthy relationships, tenacious community” to join me in that journey. Anyone else up for the challenge?
Palmer, Parker. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an Undivided Life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004.