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Beside Restful Waters

"This is the dance of intimacy: as we ask one another for forgiveness, as we confess to one another that once again we didn't do it right."

-Richard Rohr

If you are anything like me, you may find yourself sick and tired of confessing, again and again, that I didn't do it right.

I find this a strange definition of 'intimacy'. I prefer the romantic, love struck image of walking hand in hand through the woods with my beloved, lost in the atmosphere of our love in the middle of a beautiful view of waterfalls, restful waters, and sunshine. This is my preferred vision of intimacy.

BUT: this constant reminder that I have failed, again, just drives a painful reality into my vision.

At this moment, though, as I ponder the deeper truth of confessing my errors, and ponder further into the continuous response of patience and forgiveness of the ones to whom I confess, I am able to move past the real but superficial image of the romantic walk in the woods.

I ask myself why the connection between intimacy and getting it wrong, stirs such negativity within me. Immediately I sense the shame when I approach my need to confess. Immediately, I feel myself shrink, like my body curling into a tight ball, stinging with fear. This is my reaction to my need to confess- fear and shame. These, to me, are my responses to becoming vulnerable. What about you? What are your inner responses?

Growing up in the Catholic, Christian tradition, the image of confession further intensifies fear and shame as I think of going in to the dark cell we called the confessional. Fortunately, I have evolved myself to have a more adult perspective of the opportunities to confess, whether to a priest or to those whom I have offended. Yet, I still contend with fear and shame.

There are a couple realities I have to admit. Even more difficult, I have to accept. First, I have to accept my humanity, my addiction to my own way of thinking and doing. Yes, I have to admit and accept myself, my naked, true self. I make mistakes, over and over and over.......

Second, once past the shame and fear, I have to admit and accept the grace, peace of love that forgiveness offers. Here is where I struggle not to beat myself up. You would think that the thousands of times I have had to confess and ask forgiveness of others, that grace and peace and love would overcome the shame and fear. Right?

This is where I am coming to more fully know the gifts of love and grace and peace: in the practice of meditation, AND the practice of confession. Meditation offers the stillness within which grace, peace and love become more and more of the very fiber of my being. Without stillness to know these gifts, they remain fleeting thoughts that are easily blurred and blocked by fear and shame. Further, with meditation, the people who have given their forgiveness take on the depth of our intimacy. This is the place where your forgiveness becomes the very fiber of my being. This is where God, my Higher Power, becomes bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh and breath of my spirit. We truly become intimate.

We truly become intimate!

I just looked up the definition of 'intimacy'. A surprising descriptor appeared: confidence. Wow! As this sinks in, I recognize that there is a powerful sense of confidence that evolves with this practice of confession and forgiveness. Fear and shame begin to diminish allowing space for the peace, love and grace of forgiveness. I also recognize another aspect of this practice: There are very few people with whom I have this deep confidence. Yes, I need to confess to all whom I have offended. Yet there are just a few who know the depth of love to share the intimate gift of forgiveness. That's ok. I believe that is because we are all in different spaces of knowing confession, forgiveness, grace, peace, love, and intimacy. Yes, it's ok.

So, having recognized this reality, it will be important to accept forgiveness as each of us has the capacity to offer. This is good as we each have much different experiences with confessiona and forgiveness. So I'll accept where each of us is in our respective experiences and continue to practice confession and forgiveness and meditation.

So, let's take that walk, hand in hand in the woods. Let's find that place where there is a waterfall. We can walk hand in hand, entranced by the aroma of the pines, the coolness of the mist rising from the water, the sense of wonder and awe that the restful waters offer. This is a good place to know the love, peace and grace of forgiveness.

This is a place of intimacy.

Let's go barefoot and dance.


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