A little while ago, during a vision, I happened upon something. Not intentionally. Or, at least, I don’t think it was intentionally.
I raised my eyebrows at it and decided that I didn’t want to know this.
I’m not sure why. But I decided I wanted to keep it a secret.
Even from myself.
But last night, not realizing I was on the same path that would lead to the same answer, I happened upon it again.
So the secret was officially “out.”
Everything that exists has a seen side and an unseen side.
Pretty much every minute of the day we are unaware of this.
That the good has a tangled side.
That the bad have a confused and weak side.
That what appears before us and convinces us it is what we see is not, altogether, an accurate statement of what is before us.
I have been “working” on a specific kind of vision for over a week now. It’s ostensibly about love. But it’s love felt by me while I’m sitting next to God. So not an everyday experience. More like a grand expression of the human soul.
That kind of thing.
And the enigmatic nature of it all has me wondering what I am doing. Which isn’t all that unfamiliar for me. But it’s like being plopped down in an aerospace graduate course. Just so beyond my normal reach that I wonder if it’s of any real use.
And a lot of it is about flipping: someone will come up to me in my vision, my brother, Geoffrey, say, and I’ll ask a question to his unseen side. The side I’ve never considered in my lifelong resentment of him.
Now I’m not approaching his unseen side because I’ve become a better person and have forgiven his treatment of me. I may have forgiven him some, but, underneath it all, I’m not sure how to go about forgiving such a betrayal. It was conscious choice that he made. From close friends to being used and manipulated. Scoffed at even.
Which, is, in a way, part of this story.
One that I’ll get to in a bit.
Nevertheless, sending my question, Why?, over to his unseen side, his dark side, I got the answer back that I was actively hiding from. Not that I had associated that issue with him. I wouldn’t have asked the question if I had.
I was hiding from this knowledge, after all.
I didn’t react strongly to it. Just acknowledged it had come. Then I continued on with my vision.
Which amounted to squaring off against some people in my life and studying their unseen sides.
Which was, essentially, like going about and rooting around peoples’ attics. Poking into their dusty trunks. Reading their diaries from childhood. Looking at their pencil sketches of teachers and preachers.
It had some interest. And it told stories that I hadn’t even realized existed.
Now I won’t say that everyone I squared off with had the same unseen side. That would be foolish even to imagine. We are all so different.
But what I will say is that squaring off with people, one after the next, made me see that their seen sides had a remarkable resemblance to the others that I had never seen before. That their whole two-step process with me (love and betrayal) was a set dance that I willingly got caught up throughout my life.
First love. Then betrayal.
For me this began when I was in mother’s womb. While there, I was cherished and appreciated. Anticipated. I was the answer to her prayers. A reason, perhaps, for my father to return to the marriage.
When I was born, however, and it was seen that I was a girl and Not A Boy the emotion went from exultation to complete disgust. I’ve probably told this story before, but I was born in a hospital that saw very few births. But on the night I was born, miraculously another baby was born. And He Was A Boy. And my mother used to tell of how hard she tried to convince her doctor that he had made a mistake and switched babies.
A blond, blue-eyed boy. My mother already had two of these.
A brown-haired girl. Who cared what color my eyes were?
I was just wrong.
So my life became, at the moment of my birth, stamped with this cycle of love and extreme rejection.
And I am still in that cycle today.
So back to the vision.
There were a number of people facing me. And I saw that I was “caught” by the same kind of person again and again.
What I saw months ago and then again last night had to do with evil. What is on the unseen side of evil? What is that face that peers over evil’s shoulder? And what does it have to say?
Well, what I heard both times was the same: In answer to the question, Why?, it responded, Because I am not good enough to receive your love.
Evil, is, of course, addressing its answer to God.
The answer is: I am inadequate.
When we review Jesus’s interactions with those around him, we can sense the echo of that exact answer.
With reference to his acts of healing, most just slink away. We don’t understand the shock of it for them. We’re just reading the words. Why not jump up and down and praise God?
Because we are not worthy to receive such a grace.
So we turn our backs on love.
I was forced to sit through the hour-long vision last night with my own unseen side watching all of this go on. And, finally, toward the end, I got to answer my own question.
Because I am a freak of nature.
It has always been there for me. From the time I realized that I had thoughts that people around me did not have. To when I was grown and realized I could accomplish things that people around me could not.
I learned to just let it be. A secret between myself and God.
In fact, I don’t imagine I cared that people treated me with disrespect because I thought, If I were him, I’d kick me, too.
My brother’s rejection of me for who I am stung because this is what I thought of myself: too inadequate of a person to be loved.
But I’m old now. I’ve lived through enough cycles of being me that I sort of understand me. And for the first time in my life I’ve had the thought that I deserve respect for who I am. I’m very quiet about that thought, but it’s there.
Now I don’t know if this means that I’m letting go of some of my feelings of inadequacy, but it may be a step in the right direction.
And that notion that, I am inadequate to receive your love, Father, is what is roiling away on the unseen side of evil, makes me think that a definition of evil is that exact turning away from God.
And we could go back in the Bible and see if there is a thread about this exact thing.
Did Eve choose to eat the apple because she believed, perhaps through the coaxing of the snake, that she was inadequate in the eyes of God and needed that promised knowledge to bring her up to snuff?
Did Cain kill his brother because in his perception of the favoring by God of his brother he felt inadequate? And that broke his heart. And that pain caused him to lash out.
And so it goes.
The love of God. And the instances of turning away from that love.
Perhaps because of feelings of inadequacy. Of unworthiness.
I wonder if that is one (or the only) reason we are here on Earth. To feel that separation. To feel deep inside ourselves in our separation from God that we are bent and broken. A reject in his creation.
My hair is not blond. I failed this test. I don’t want to go to church.
Lesser. Not perfect. Not even close.
So God loves us the way we are?
Hard to believe.
And from that conviction that we don’t deserve to be loved we turn away and try to find our way. And perhaps in that turning away, we find evil.
We busy ourselves with what helps us to get through another day. We might put our energy into baking, or fishing, or working. We might even take pride that we are living a Godly life.
But in our silences do we hear the voice that is over our own shoulder? Do we hear our own whispers and cries?
I think we all try to be very brave and keep ourselves facing forward.
We live. We are going to die. So why care what walks behind us? What does it matter?
I don’t think it’s for nothing that to repent means to turn around.
Perhaps that it a good name for Christians: repentance-seekers.
If we understand that that is what we should be, anyway.
That just going forward is, in its own way, our turning our back on God. Our acceptance of evil.
Because we are not good enough to face him.