Come, Come Whoever You Are: No Despair

We are no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again, come.

On some level, we want the whole experience, and we need to know that the whole experience of our humanity is accepted, is not judged, is welcome.

Most of us walk around with a public face that we wear.  This is the face by which we are mostly known.  Most of us also walk around hiding behind that face the other aspects of ourselves that we are not sure will be accepted–by others and perhaps even by ourselves. We might have concrete experiences of being rejected because of those aspects of ourselves, and we do not wish to repeat those experiences.  We long for a place and a people who simply welcomes us.

Come, come whoever you are . . . 

We develop, then, the public face–one that is generally accepted or, if not entirely accepted, one that will get us through.  Some of our public faces look intellectual.  Others come across as aggressive and fierce. Some public faces are quiet and withdrawn in the hopes that we are just not noticed.  Some become almost like clowns, the life and energy of the party, always and everywhere.  All–faces behind which we can hide, take some safety, and avoid rejection.

Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving . . . 

The great irony to me in this whole dynamic (one that I am convinced from which no one really escapes entirely) is that even while I am hiding behind my public face in hopes of not being rejected or judged by the communities I long to be welcome in, I myself harbor thoughts and feelings of judgment and rejection toward others.  I like to walk around thinking that I am not that way.  Then, someone lowers their public face just a bit, and I see some aspect that I did not know was there.  It surprises me.  Frightens me.  Disorients me, and I recover to my public face with some judgment:  that’s not right; that’s not acceptable; that’s not welcome.  I even worry in those moments that I will be found out for my hypocrisy and judged and rejected.  What sort of horrible game am I caught in, are we caught in?

We are no caravan of despair.

I show up in my various communities–especially the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett–because I intend for it to be a community of no despair, a welcoming place for all.  I intend that, and I believe that others with whom I gather also believe this.  We are no caravan of despair. But.  We are all struggling with this same basic conundrum. We welcome and we want to be welcome and we still struggle with fear, anger, and confusion. We all, to some degree, wear public faces and have hidden selves that we are coaxing toward healing.  So . . .

Come, come whoever you are.

Join us in the dance.  Join us in the struggle.  Join us in the mystery.  Join us, and let’s work together.  There is much to learn.  There are many to love, beginning with those we find staring back in the mirror.

Bob Patrick

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