I had a dream last night worthy of the name nightmare. Right up there with Scrooge’s visitor from a future Christmas, this dream came a-haunting. In it were people and circumstances familiar, yet which had never before happened, a single theme binding them all into a seamless, terrifying whole. I was detested, disrespected, disowned, disheartened, lost, alone and afraid. No matter what I did, it was wrong. And having committed countless unredeemable sins, there was no road back, no way to make it right, no chance to make amends. Every where I turned I was unwelcome and unbefriended. It was the most horrible dream I’ve ever had.
As I awoke, my relief was overwhelming, for I knew it wasn’t true. But the sheer terror of it stayed with me and I wept uncontrollably for quite a while as my loving husband, no longer frightened by the waves of emotion that can overtake me and spill out as tears, spoke words of comfort. As I cried, two ideas crystallized in my consciousness. One was that this dreadful fear of being completely unlovable was the birthplace of every fear I’ve ever felt. Whatever circumstance I was hoping to avoid, whatever name I gave it, this was The Big One. And two, it is universal. You feel it too. Everyone does. Nothing in the world binds us together like this does.
When non-violent communities wish to punish a misbehaving member, they will shun them. What indigenous peoples do with folks who have lost their way is to sing them the song of their origin, their belonging. I’ve told these stories on many a Sunday over the years. Never has the message resonated with me as deeply as it does right this minute. To hurt someone forever so that they can never recover, banish them from your heart. To heal even the worst offenders, bring them into a tender place they have all but forgotten exists.
Yes, it is that simple. And Christmas celebrates the birth of someone they called the Redeemer.
I am thinking of those who hurt me personally whom I have chosen not to forgive. I am thinking of those in public life I have come to revile and shame. I am thinking of all the groups of people I write off as not worthy of my time or attention. Yes, I’m afraid I’ve done that. I do that. Like Scrooge, visited with the undeniable knowledge of the outcome of his behavior, I had to weep. No more.
It is not my place to tell anyone else what to do, but I had to share what I learned last night: I have to put every ounce of energy I possess in every fiber of my being into doing this better, this thing called loving.
So, I want you to know: You belong with me. You are safe in my heart. Your name is honey in my mouth. I see you as you truly are. I will sing your song when you forget. I forgive you. I trust you. I honor you. I believe in you. And I promise to love you forever. Merry Christmas.