Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
–Rumi, 13th Century
I’m the question mark with a bag over my face. The ashes I’d rubbed all over my body were too dramatic compared to other question marks in this field. The woman from India sits on a sunny rock, wrinkled face exposed, gnarled hands relaxing at last. She killed her infant daughter “to spare her the miserable life I live.” Here, she finds acceptance if not understanding. The price of admission to this field is not understanding.
My friend Deanna sits beside the Indian woman and hugs her gently. Deanna’s wrongdoing was stealing $10 from a humane society donation jar. She stole the money to buy a tube of Preparation H. Her hemorrhoids were excruciatingly painful, and she was flat broke with no health insurance. Yet, those stray dogs would be euthanized if the jar did not fill quickly.
A man I once worked with has his pockets turned inside out to show he is still broke. He confessed his homosexuality to a small group of senior managers at the Christian charity where we worked. His brothers in Christ fired him within the hour. I don’t see them here. I don’t see abortion clinic bombers or FOX News. In fact, I don’t see anyone who makes my skin crawl.
The prostitute from Uganda approaches Deanna and the Indian woman, a tiny smile twitching at the corners of her mouth. She prays to God every day of her life and blesses the food she feeds to her children. The only way she can earn that food is to sell her body. Her children survive; her spirit shrivels. The Indian woman looks her in the eye and invites her to sit on the sunny rock.
I linger in the shadows, hugging excuses. Is this the place where I can leave them?
I won’t tell you my question marks. I won’t ask yours. Just know there is a field where some walk into the light naked in their truths. Many are here in the shadows with me, gathering courage.
This post is dedicated to my life-long best friend Deanna who died several years ago leaving a large hole in my heart.
Thanks to Nicolo Famiglietti, Ph.D. for providing the beautiful photo. You can see more of his work on his web sites: