Saturday, June 25, 2016

Turning Away


A new client came by a while back for a reading. Once the reading was finished, we chatted for a while before she got ready to drive home. In the short few minutes that followed I was introduced to a culture of racism so deeply ingrained in her that she didn’t even see that she was wearing a pointy white hat. That kind of antipathy comes from fear and hatred, and a host of other causes and conditions, many of which she might never be able to see or from which she might never be free. She smiled and confided and chatted easily as though the stuff coming out of her mouth was as sweet as honey.

I didn’t know how to respond. How do I answer such complete conviction? I forced a smile, changed the subject and gently steered her towards the door.

That night I dreamed about a woman getting out of a car and coming towards me asking for me to accept or help her. I felt reluctant. She seemed like someone who was ineffectual, whiny, and yet so solid in her views that there was no getting through to her. I looked at the block I’d put between us. It appeared like a bubble of water in front of my chest and shoulders, extending farther out from my shoulders than my chest. Even as I saw this, I knew that even though I didn’t want to drop the block, I’d have to. But I didn’t want to let in this woman. I was afraid if I let her in, whatever it was in her I didn’t like would infect me too, and I’d be just like her. I woke up in tears.

As I jotted down the dream, I realized that my aversion to the woman in the dream was the same as my aversion to the client, which was the same as the client’s aversion to those she feared.

That left me with a choice. Do I add to the antipathy, or do I find a way to turn towards her and the me who doesn’t want to be like her?

I knew the answer in the dream. The stronger the aversion, the stronger the need for acceptance.

We are complex in our beliefs, often stuck in conditioning so deep that we can’t see what it is. For example, I said, someone “jipped me” the other day not knowing that what came so innocently out of me was a slur against Gypsies that I’d picked up as a kid. Once I realized what I said, I wondered how, when a simple phrase is so deeply embedded, can I prevent myself from saying it in the future? I don’t know if I can.

But I forget; the client and me and all of us are made of goodness. A sermon at church a while back was about the sower of seeds: seeds can fall on rocky soil, in thistles, or on good ground. Goodness is goodness is goodness. No matter where goodness is put, it will either fail to flourish or flourish. It’s still goodness. The seeds are not at fault for not flourishing.

Maybe instead of turning away, I need to reach out and hold her hand.

First published April 2016 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.