Your River: the cleansing.

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Tip me in your smooth waters
I go in
As a man with many crimes
Come up for air
As my sins flow down the Jordan

- "River", by Leon Bridges

We have all done things. We have all done things we are not proud of, things that deeply cut others, that cheated others, that robbed them of some of the peace and trust and faith in us and in the goodness of life. A quote that haunts is Nassim Taleb's,  "Love without sacrifice is theft".  These words remind us that we must sacrifice a crucial piece of ourselves in the process of truly loving another. There is deep truth in these sparse few words, but it should be made clear that these words transcend lovers. Perhaps it was a friend we deceived, a sibling we let down, someone who had placed deep trust in us, trust that was deeply rooted in the fabric of who they are and the life they were crafting. From the other perspective, the side of the one deceived, there are trusts we place in some people that somehow define an essential piece of us, deceptions that render the death of a piece of us that we can never get back.  And yet, after the storm, we try to find a way to move on with our life. Sometimes we feel the gaping hole left within us cannot be replaced or fixed. But with time, like a gash in a leg, the wound eventually closes, yet often with keloid, leaving a scarred memory of that piece of us that has died.  Sometimes they are pieces of us which we can never have back, of time lost, of faith lost, of trust and hope lost.  This is life, and these are the lessons we risk intimately dancing with when we lay our heart, soul and spirit in the hands of others. The key to recovery is to keep breathing, to keep walking, yet never stop risking to love. The key is to keep the faith that the pain will end and better days will come, when we can breath deeply again, feel our lungs expand fully once again, and to hope to soon weep uncontrollably for the last time and mark the final closing of the wound.

The answer I think somehow lies in faith.  Faith that the pains will soften a little more each day, that the scar in time will transcend the event and take on some deeper more comforting meaning, a transcending message and lesson. Scars have stories, and we all have them. We have all been robbed of something at some point in our life.  But, it is how we choose to hold our heart and spirit up each day with gentleness, kindness and forgiveness that defines the softness of the scar and the trust to again place a knife in the hands of another, perhaps even again in the hands of the thief, trusting, hoping, they will always honor our soul and spirit with the softness of the sheath, and not the honed edge of its blade.

Sometimes with great hopes and dreams come great loves and memories, and sometimes great wounds and scars. To live a full life we have to take chances, we have to trust, we must have faith, and when things move against us, we somehow have to find a way to forgive. And yet, as hard as it may be, we must enter with love. Sure, we must not enter as fools with inhibitions, but we must not fear leading with love.  We must understand the truth that there will be wounds cut upon the soft flesh of our being, cuts that leave scars, yet with the hopes that those scars will raise us up. We must remain footed in hope, and lead with trust and love.

And when we are weak, may we be reminded of the faith and hope of the goodness in life and of greater humanity, of tender things like Leon Bridges powerful song "River".  If you can put yourself in a vulnerable place, one of ownership of your shortcomings to another, all of the song’s haunting beauty just might crack something wide open in you, yet it will also remind you that with time, most wounds can be cleansed, though sometimes, never completely healed. Perhaps, to expedite the healing, ours and another’s, may we start with an open offered hand, an embrace, a word of apology rooted in love, to being the healing.

 . . . . take me to the river . . . . tip me in its smooth waters and let my crimes, my thefts, wash from me, and let me hope to come up for air, if there is still time.  And, may the freshest of waters from upstream encompass me and heal the wounds left open upon my flesh and soul. And if we are lucky, may these waters flow over those we wronged, if they are open to the invitation,

Come, meet me at the river my brothers and sisters, we all have work to do, and wounds to heal. After all, the problem is, we think we still have time.

-Shawn ‘