Friday, December 27, 2013

Intimacy Among Strangers

"Barren Tenderness"
-winter flowers bloom in the sand and rocks-

Author and poet, Richard Rodriguez, once said:

There are things so deeply personal that they can only be revealed to strangers

Living out here in the desert, and writing this daily blog from the Desert Retreat House, I find great wisdom in this saying.

When I first took on the task of blog writing, I had no idea what to expect. My original intent was to provide an opportunity for me to share a daily spiritual reflection in the context of a wilderness setting. 

While I have indeed offered daily reflections here,  I have also discovered that the blog has taken on a life of it's own- very different than what I expected.  In fact this "virtual" Desert Retreat House has become more like a "real-life" retreat house - far more than I could have ever imagined

Every day, after I post an entry, I get all sorts of responses. Some of the responses are cranky and argumentative; but for the most part, the responses are genuinely open-hearted. Often, they are so poignantly tender and deeply personal that they bring me to tears. 

Every day, various people from all across the world (literally) meet online here in the Desert Retreat House. Believers, agnostics, atheists and humanists meet here. Religious people from all sorts of traditions meet here. The spiritual but not religious meet here. 

Very often people will comment on a post by sharing their own stories - often deeply personal stories of faith and doubt, joy and sorrow, hope and despair, pain and healing, death and life. 

There are things so deeply personal that they can only be revealed to strangers

Today I have been reflecting on those stories shared with strangers here in the "virtual" Desert Retreat House.

In one sense, I guess people are willing to share their personal stories here because, in doing so a certain degree of anonymity can be maintained. You don't have to worry about what others think of you or how they will judge you if you don't know who the others are and you are unlikely to ever meet them.

However, I actually have another understanding about what is going on in the deeply personal stories that are told in this "virtual" setting. 

I believe that when we scrape beneath the surface, we, human beings, discover our common humanity.  When we can break down the barriers of our ego defenses and make ourselves vulnerable to one another, we discover that we are one another- all of us wounded, weak and broken and yet strong and healed, all of us filled with a sense of potential and yet aware of our failures, all of us full of faith and plagued with doubts, all of us anxious and also peaceful, joyful and sad. 

When we make ourselves vulnerable to one another, we discover that we are all soul-searchers -all on a soul searching journey, hungry for a deeper peace in this wilderness journey of life.

I think that when strangers meet together in this "virtual" Desert Retreat House to hear my own soul-dearchng searching stories and share their own soul-searching stories, we all discover that none of us are strangers after all. 

We are separated from one another by a thin veil -  by the "delusion" of the ego. We are only separated  from one another by the illusion of a separate, individual self that actually doesn't even exist; because, in truth, we are one another. All of us are a dynamically interconnected, interdependent web of relationship. 

When you scrape beneath the surface, none of us are strangers to one another. 

As I write this refection, I look out at the wilderness in which I live. The stark desert terrain always takes me to my edges. The vast, wild and uncontrollable wilderness makes me vulnerable.  It is not a place where the ego thrives very well. It is a place where I scrape away the surface and look at what is really beneath it all -who I really am; and when I do that, flowers spring up -even in the wintertime.

The desert is a perfect place for a retreat house (even a "virtual" retreat house). The desert is a wonderful place for soul-searchers to meet and discover that none of us are strangers after all. 

1 comment:

  1. I have always enjoyed sharing my feelings with the my true love of many years ago. we reunited as friends and I had no issues sharing anything, it was very easy to share with him and it still is if he chooses to stay in my life. I do love him so much I hope he knows.