I thought I knew who he was

My skin colour isn’t yellow.  Which is why I am constantly surprised when I see those using the option of brown coloured emojis.

I always thought emojis were shorthand for “emoting”.  They have never come in pale-pink-verging-on-grey (me on a bad day).  Not have I ever defined myself as being yellow – or pale pink (or grey) or brown.  Yet it seems some must.

My skin has been raw red (when suncream was for old people), verging on white/grey (that’s how I see me when I feel ill), and after a good workout I have a glowing colour (or maybe that is just me feeling righteous at the workout).  But whatever I see in the mirror – looking back at me will flake away in weeks.  A constant renewing of the ever-present shield of dead cells that I call “my appearance”.

Odd that.

How we have been taught that this shield of dead cells defines who we are, how we fit (and how we can be so out of place) … How we have been taught to spend so much money and time on keeping this shield of dead cells looking “youthful” and “wrinkle free” … How we are taught that “cosmetic surgery” and “non-invasive procedures” are to be admired …  

How did this shield of dead cells become who we are and should be?  Just another mask we think others think we should be.  That we think we should be. That we are taught is who we are.

A mask we idolise and despise, abuse and use, pamper and preen.

Over the weekend we had our youngest grandchild with us.  An “overnight” all by himself followed by a day with him and his elder brother.  He is only 9 months old.  Still at the “faster to crawl than invest in walking” stage.  More and more standing unsupported on his own two feet as he forgets to hold on.  Still with a language of sounds rather than words.   Still a mini-adult who is yet to learn about shields of dead cells and masks.

I thought I knew who he was and found he is so much more.  I usually see him for an hour or two in a group of others. I thought I knew him and found I didn’t. I thought he was a watcher and found he is a doer.  Thought him unformed and found him already forming and unique.  His personality flooding out through the mask I had given him.  And this weekend I had the time and space in my head to be washed and washed again in his unconditional outpouring. 

He has a brilliant sense of humour.  He loves a game of chase.  His “noise language” is as eloquent as any wordsmith.  He fears things that I take for granted and he is absorbed by things I don’t even see – but see anew through his eyes.  He forgets to fear – just as we all do – when absorbed by something completely absorbing.  He is a lot tougher than I have ever realised.  He is a mini-adult complete with everything he needs to make him his own I am – his own unique cocktail of difference and similarity.

His ability to love and be loved is already fully formed.  Perhaps more so than it will ever be again.  After he is taught to fear things that needn’t be feared.  After he is taught that love is conditional.  Taught that love is transactional. As is forgiveness and almost everything else.

Taught things like the colour of emojis define me … the condition of my never-perfect shield of dead cells defines me in others’ eyes … Like a God we prefer to define by religion (along with sin and the transaction of life ever-after) … Taught that being bad is only “being bad” if I am caught … Like learning to smile that “smile” which can hide so much derision … Like gossip is what others do … that being two-faced is what others do to me … Learning that “don’t say anything if you can’t say something nice” is a lovely safe hiding place we carry with us constantly …

And that the ”Real Christmas Story” is as manufactured as the “Crass Commercial Version” (each throw at the other).

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We have just begun Advent.  The annual church diary journey to the crib and then the cross.

A journey loaded with as much “taught fear” as our wee grandchild will experience simply by living each day and another after that.  We are all taught to fear – and unteaching that teaching can take a lifetime.  

Just as this wee one – who shared our home and lives for 36 hours – reminded me this weekend.

When I look at the Story of The Baby Jesus do I see a manufactured shield of religious teaching – or do I see me?  The me I am – was – and can be anytime I choose. A mini-Jesus-God with everything I already need inside.  The power to walk free, to love without fear – and the knowledge to cast aside the teaching of transaction.   

This weekend was physically exhausting and spiritually energising.

For me that is the lesson of love without all the teaching.  That is my lesson of the bible.  That is my learning of any and all the journeys I choose and have chosen to take.

It is a lesson about this moment and the next.  A lesson in the “eternity” we don’t even see in each moment through our adult-taught eyes.   It is a lesson not of sin and forgiveness – but of love without condition.   It is a lesson of being so absorbed by this moment and the next that I know no fear.

And – for me – that is where love is and only ever can be.