Safe Places

June 8, 2024 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Recently in his post Sabbath Moment, Terry Hershey wrote on the idea of Storm Homes, places in lands of tumultuous weather where people, especially children, can gather when an unexpected storm threatens. Storm Homes can save lives and prevent harm. Everyone in these turbulent zones is familiar with the location of Storm Homes. In fact, many individual homes contain within them some kind of Safe Place to protect families from danger.

A Metaphor

Obviously, I pondered the metaphor of Safe Places and how each of us longs deeply for some sort of harbor in the everyday storms of life. And yes, I could write on that idea. But I’m not. Instead, it occurred to me that I need a Safe Place even when there is no significant storm.

I need a safe place where I can just be my genuine and true self, my broken and embarrassing self that I rarely allow to emerge from my own danger zones of shame and fear of rejection. How many of us, in truth, see ourselves as the Persuasive Imposter who feels that she or he lures others into believing something that is slightly (or grossly) inaccurate or over-rated? So often, we feel the need to put on our Glittering Image of our grander self as we disguise that inglorious Shadow Self who lingers continuously within.

Where Can Your Safe Places Be Found?

Safe Places. Where are they to be found? Where are those very small handful of places (if any) where the genuine self can walk boldly among her neighbors without some fear of being “outed” as that Imposter?

I believe that my Safe Places are first discovered and developed from within, in love, in full self-acceptance, where I discover some form of protection—a protection that permits my own self as a safe place to reside.

It has also occurred to me that I already have at hand Safe Places in my daily practices. With that in mind I can lean on two options for Safe Places: (1) People and (2) Rituals and Routines.

My Safe Places

People

As much as many so-called enlightened folks may proclaim that they are not really affected by the opinions and judgments of others, I still contend that such statements are, well… let us say, mostly untrue or maybe I should just say bullshit! We need people. We need words of appreciation and words of affirming dignity. And we need that, and I mean really need that, from the people who know us the very best, from our brightest to our darkest of dark places.

But who knows our darkest selves, our stained and humiliating blood dripping selves? Who? For so many the answer is No One! We are keepers of secrets which we rarely admit to ourselves, let alone to a comrade.

Some have therapists and that is a brilliant option. At least with a therapist we learn to admit dreadful truths to ourselves. And that is a magnificent beginning.

But for me… I have a fellow inglorious friend with whom I share almost every damned (and I do mean “damned”) aspect of my shameful and embarrassing self. And this friend gets me. He knows shame. He knows rejection. And he knows me. And these parts of me, not only are not rejected by him, these brokenesses have become aspects of his love for my humanness and my quest to be a non-judgmental lover such as he is.

Rituals and Routines

As I pondered the whereabouts of Safe Places in my life, I realized how in need I am of my rituals and routines, patterns of self-care. Daily, and I mean “daily,” moments of inspirational reading (often just a paragraph or two), some kind of meditation, a bit of journaling (in fact, this blog began as a journal entry), and time alone with the Divine in contemplative prayer.

Yes. That is a lot! But I am retired. I do whatever I want to do. So, I have 90 minutes or so every morning. However, the important thing is not the time, it is the habit. And in these habits, I have found a Safe Place just to be me. I think whatever I want to think about, and often think about what I don’t want to think about. I can’t help but be truthful, often embarrassingly or humiliatingly so. Still, and this is important, in these times I can access the truest me.

And you know what? I’m okay. I’m safe. I have learned, and continue to learn, to be gentle with my unguarded self. My Practice—my life-style rituals—have become the safest of all places.

Safe Places. You just can’t make peace without them.

Safe Places

A Plea of Your Soul 

Photo courtesy of driftlessstudio at istockphoto

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