Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing our secrets

I love people. I love listening to their stories. I love the deep beauty and richness of sharing lives with one another.

I build walls. Deep, hard to penetrate walls. I live in fear of burdening others with my pain. I build walls and live in fear of people not fighting hard enough to penetrate them.
The deeper the pain, the more I withdraw from deep connection, the stricter the facade. I am happy to care for others pain, but not my own.

As I was reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning I came across a beautiful set of scenes. Harry is struggling to come to terms with a dark truth - the prophecy revealed that he alone must battle Voldermort, and only one of them will survive. He is dealing with an enormity of grief over the loss of his Godfather Sirius and the new reality of life in the wizarding world. He feels utterly alone in his pain. Then Dumbledore speaks with him....
'Now I think I am correct in saying that you have not told anybody that you know what the prophecy said?'
'No,' said Harry.
'A wise decision, on the whole," said Dumbledore. 'Although I think you ought to relax it in favour of your friends, Mr Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger. Yes,' he continued, when Harry looked startled, 'I think they ought to know. You do them a disservice by not confiding something this important to them.'
'I didn't want -'
'- to worry or frighten them?' said Dumbledore, surveying Harry over the top of his half-moon spectacles. 'Or perhaps, to confess that you yourself are worried and frightened? You need your friends, Harry. As you so rightly said, Sirius would not have wanted you to shut yourself away.' (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; pg 78-79)
Why are we tempted to shield those closest to us, from our deepest selves? Am I afraid to admit, not just to them but to myself, the depth of my own uncertainty, fear or pain?

And then later when Harry finally reveals the truth of the prophecy to his friends Ron and Hermione...
Harry did not really listen. A warmth was spreading through him that had nothing to do with the sunlight; a tight obstruction in his chest seemed to be dissolving. He knew that Ron and Hermione were more shocked than they were letting on, but the mere fact that they were still there on either side of him, speaking bracing words of comfort, not shrinking from him as though he was contaminated or dangerous, was worth more than he could ever tell them. (pg 97)
It's in the telling and the sharing that we find freedom.... feel warmth spreading. Not just for ourselves, but for our friends. By sharing we give them the ability to love and care for us. And we show our love by daring to tell our secrets.
This reminds me of Frederick Buechner's beautiful explanation of our secrets:

"I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about." from Telling Secrets (italics my own) (pg 2-3)

I live in hope that I, and we, can learn to share secrets more and live in the freedom of sharing ourselves.
Now to start knocking down some of those walls....