Author, activist, and teacher extraordinaire, Parker Palmer, is one of my favorite inspirations, and his post today on Facebook seemed particularly poignant as we approach the Samhain holiday.
So many of us are hiding in “the broom closet,” afraid to be identified as Witches or Pagans because of the very real ignorance, prejudice, and even hatred that may be directed at us.
We endure our children being taken from us in custody battles, the vandalizing of our homes, discrimination at our jobs, and even physical violence. Often, this treatment is not only tolerated, but in some evangelical circles, it is encouraged, in the name of “spiritual warfare.” Yes, right here in the home of the First Amendment, U.S.A.
Oh, how those Christian soldiers love to take literally the passage in Exodus 22:18, “Suffer not a witch to live,” but of course conveniently ignore other “laws,” to do with eating shrimp or cutting hair.
And may the Goddess help those who live in other countries where any whiff of “sorcery” — real or fabricated — can bring cruel torture and death. It’s more common and closer to home than you might imagine (for instance, Sarah Palin’s chum, the Witch-hunter, Thomas Muthee). Read Jason Pitzl-Waters’ The Wild Hunt for a week or two, and you will have your eyes opened, my dears.
The reasons for our fears are real and daunting. But if we continue to hide, how will anything change for us? And what does compartmentalized living do to us on a deeper level?
What Is A Divided Life?
by Parker Palmer
I don’t know anyone who’d recommend living “a divided life”—a life in which our words and actions conceal or even contradict our personal truth, in which the deepest things in us are hidden from view.
And yet our culture counsels us to do exactly that: “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” “Play your cards close to your vest.” “Don’t make yourself vulnerable.”
Sadly, most of us learn early on that it’s not safe to be in the world as who we truly are, with what we really value and believe.
But when we live “masked,” even “armored” lives, the world pays a price. Ever have a masked and armored relative, acquaintance, colleague, boss, teacher or physician?
There’s no way to connect and establish trust with such a person—and the quality of what might happen between us suffers as a result. Of course, the person who lives a divided life also suffers. I can’t imagine a sadder way to die than knowing I never showed up on earth as who I really am.
But every time we show up as our true selves, we reclaim identity and integrity, and new life can grow around us. I sometimes call the decision to live an undivided life “the Rosa Parks decision.”
We can all be grateful that, despite the many risks, Mrs. Parks stepped forward with her full humanity and helped us confront the evil of racism that tries to rob so many people of their humanity.
Food for thought.
May the day soon come when we are able to shine unmasked, in our spiritual truth.