We’re all hurtling through our lives, and the planet is hurtling through space without a seat belt. We have to discover successively more freedom inside the terrible things that have happened and the terrible things that certainly will happen, and the whole of it is also a mysterious splendor, full of kindness, welcome and cups of tea. – John Tarrant

as dawn broke on this day, i awoke with the same feeling of deep sadness with which i had fallen into that fitful sleep. my dreams had only reinforced my feelings of failure. you know how that can be with dreams. as the morning unfolded, my tears were so near to the surface that silence fell over me like a blanket to keep them undercover.

after spending some time with myself in my journal, some of which i also shared here, i texted my friend, to see how she was feeling today. she has been experiencing her own measure of sorrows lately. we soon made a date for afternoon tea.

that time spent with her, mutually revealing and receiving our fears and flaws, remorses and regrets, struggles and sorrows was to share a communion more healing than any sacramental bread and wine.  being held by a true friend in an empathy that understands, not from an intellectual assertion, but from the mutual experience of being human is truly redemptive.

its not always easy to be vulnerable with another human being like that, but when we find that place of true belonging, acceptance, and love, where we are free to be all of who we are without shame, the saving of our souls from despair is so real. i don’t know how often that happens. i have the feeling i am blessed to have a small circle – a circle that is growing – of women in my life with whom i can get naked like this. i am suspicious that it is my willingness to get naked at last that is making that so.

three mornings a week, after we have finished our morning water aerobic class, i shower in the university locker room with a group of women.  standing naked with all of those fearfully and wonderfully shaped women has helped me to love my own body in ways that i could not have imagined i could ever do. i no longer measure myself against some illusory standard that isn’t even real. that’s what getting naked can do. strip the illusion of perfection we use to hate ourselves and cover over our beauty.

it’s a brave thing to do. get naked. there are still places out there where we will be laughed at or ridiculed, shamed or rejected, judged as unworthy. we do have to learn where it is safe to take off our clothes, but more and more i realize that there are others out there who look just like me, hurting and lonely and doubting and longing and messing up and feeling life deeply.

that blogger i’ve recently discovered, Dr. Kelly Flanagan, whom I’ve mentioned here previously sums it up perfectly.

Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. And it sucks. It gets a little easier over time, but not much. Because vulnerability is always a door thrown wide open for pain. So, why keep doing it? Because it is also the doorway to grace and worthiness and connection and belonging and passion and purpose. And joy of every surprising kind.

i realize that i also do this here, with you. get naked. sometimes it is scary. i wake up and wonder what i have done! like a woman the morning after taking off her clothes the first time with a new lover. then i take a deep look in the mirror, rereading my words, and realize i’m not so mishapen at all. i look just like everyone else. 

i hope that my vulnerability is likewise a gift to you. a mirror. a sip of tea. a lump of bread. a moment of connection and grace. a place to be human. a place of belonging.

as we hurtle together through this terrible, beautiful life without a seat belt.

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