During the holidays my husband and I attended a beautiful Christmas service called Christmas Carols and Lessons. Within five minutes I was moved by the music and then surprised by what hit me. The first passage was the story of when Adam and Eve hear God coming in the garden and they hide. God asks “Where are you?” Adam replies “I heard the sound of you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked so I hid.” God asks, “who told you that you were naked?”
Unlike my Hindu husband I had heard this story many, many times. But for the first time, I sat there and thought, “wow!” We have been fooled since the beginning of the Old Testament and maybe well before that. Maybe this is obvious, but I had never quite listened to the story this way. I usually just heard all the wrongness and punishment in the rest of that story. This time was different. We have so easily bought what other people or culture in general have told us is wrong. Adam and Eve didn’t know they were naked until the serpent told Eve to eat from the tree. They did not believe there was anything wrong with how they were being. They did not believe they had to cover up and hide until someone or something interjected. I guess body shame started way back then, but that is a post in and of itself.
Back to today’s reflection…. How often do we travel through life thinking we are wrong simply because someone or something told us we were and we bought it? What if their truth is not our truth? I am not here to say whether we should be walking around naked or not. Although I am sure we could have a lot of fun with that conversation. The point is whose life are we living? Whose voices are we hearing? Do we even know how we feel or what we want? Do we even really recognize our own voice? Or are we following an accumulation of ideas and rules that other people convinced us was the right way to live — ideas that other people told us define success or a happy life? I ask myself and my clients these questions often. I ask the questions not to come up with an answer right away. I ask to create an opening and an openness. I am a firm believer of the great poet Rainer Marie Rilke’s idea to, “have patience with all that is unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves…”.
The questions are reminders that these are our lives to create in our own authentic ways. The questions help give insight and direction in an intuitive sort of way. There seems to be an immediate awareness about what comes from within versus what is some rule passed along that we have been trying to squeeze into. I don’t ever intend to stop asking questions. They are a reminder of possibilities. They point to the responsibility and privilege to shine our very own light. It is so easy for the world’s rules and occurrences to mute or attempt to extinguish that light. That’s never the end of the story though. It doesn’t have to be unless we let it.
The last lesson of that Christmas service brought it all home. It is a passage from John that reads, “…light shines in darkness and darkness could not over power it”. As we settle into the new year, let us remember our light. How willing are we to travel into our authenticity — that light that we are here to contribute to the world? Each of us has our very own that only we can be. The journey into this begins with the questions.
-Julie Booksh (Counselor & Speaker)