There was a time, long ago when I was not so great at keeping confidences. Actually, I was terrible at it. I grew up (like all young women?) loving a good juicy secret, whether it was true or not. And sometimes the details were just too irresistible to check out thoroughly before I passed them along. Whether I could help myself or not, I managed to get a great deal of pleasure from talking about others’ problems and Good Lord, the mess these people made of their lives.
Meanwhile, I was the one later who had a mess of a life going on….
Enter my friends, the ones who I latched onto when I really set out to work on myself spiritually. These friends taught me to mind my own business and respect the privacy of others. It took some time but eventually I overcame the urge to talk about people behind their backs (or to their face!). This was nothing short of a miracle. And, I have to say, it’s hard work. I needed (and still need) to remember that talking about others devalues me, disrespects a confidence and if I think well enough of myself, I don’t need to talk down about others to build myself up.
While my friends were teaching me about privacy and respect of others, they taught me something about secrets. Through their own generous acts of respect, they listened to my secrets and kept them as confidences. This was another miracle. It was a great leap of faith to talk about things that I was keeping inside of me, things that threatened at times to seriously bring me down. But here they were, listening…..and loving me anyway….secrets and all.
The upside, the greatest reward to all of this is that people now trust me with their own secrets. They know when they tell me something intimate, it will not go any further than my own ears. This is God’s Great Grace, I believe, to have been given the gift of confidential and respectful listeners and then, to be able to pay it forward. I gave my secrets to others and now, I have been chosen by a few close friends to be their Keeper of the Secrets.
So I listen to stories of troubled pasts from my comrades, bits and pieces that represent good (and not so good) portions of their lives. When I do this listening, I am silently loving and praying for them. They tell me their shortcomings and again, I love them anyway. Things they suffer from shame about, things they think no one could love them through… and yet I love them even more. I am not sure why this spiritual work has been given to me but perhaps I am not here to question it. My responsibility is to continue to love and accept unconditionally those who choose to confide in me.
This trust, this confidence speaks volumes to me. I will never, ever take it for granted. Again, it is an opportunity to pay back over and over the great gifts that have been given to me. The gifts my friends gave me so freely, way back when I knew not what their real value was.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung
Thank you again to Cally Jamis Vennare, for these beautiful pictures!