Not long ago I had the chance to be alone in a deep basalt lined canyon in the southern Idaho desert. I remember being there as a child and wondering how resonant it was when I shouted my name. During this trip, I was alone and therefore somewhat uninhibited, so I shouted my name, and was struck again with wonder as I heard my name repeated over and over again as it bounced from one wall of the canyon to another. I was also aware that if there had been another person there, I might not have tested the echo. My ow adult self-consciousness would have become a barrier.
In his book, Rev. Verity states that we find our sense of awe and wonder, beauty, and love within the heart—that center of the emotions and intellect that connects with our experience of the positive. Yet we can cover up this divine reality within us through fear. We build barriers designed to keep us safe from the barbs of living. These barriers are designed to shield us from the emotional, psychological, and spiritual barbs that threaten our harmony, peace of mind and security. Rev. Verity goes on to state that we erect these barriers unconsciously, yet solidly, not only to keep out the unwanted threats from outside but also to prevent us from penetrating our own spiritual core. They prevent us from accessing our own true source of strength—that which God has placed within us.
Verity goes on the assert that we prevent ourselves from experiencing the divine spark within us as we cut off our true beauty, our wondrous and sacred self—that which is at the center of our being—or our “real self.” We protect this precious and vulnerable part of ourselves because we are unsure that others will understand us for who we really are. Rather, we show our “false outer shell.” This outer shell hems us in and may thicken, especially if we experience times of bitterness, resentment, anger, shame, guilt, perfectionism, false righteousness (the list goes on and on). This shell takes over to build our barrier even higher and heavier.
However, if we meet these adverse emotions and experiences with a mature spirituality, centered in the One who gives us all that we need to support our true self, we come to realize that this outer shell is both encumbering and distracting and in need of being dismantled. During this time of challenging events, when the world seems fraught with pandemic issues, social and political unrest, and general uncertainty, it may be worth making what’s called a “paradoxical intention” (a plan to act in a way that seems to contradict what you should be doing): instead of spending so much time building our outer shell, we act out of an awareness that this is a very thing that blocks us from knowing our true self. Such an intention may have the effect of opening ourselves, without inhibition, to the echo of God—the One who calls our name over and over to be our true self.