Monday, December 12, 2016

Hermitage IV: Reaching Back

On the altar of my hermitage sits a faded color snapshot of me at the age of six.  It took a long time for that little boy to make it out of a shoebox on the top shelf of a closet.  

He’s putting on a brave face for the camera, but he’s not happy about being on display. He’s already self-conscious about being chubby.  He’s already felt the shame of being always the one picked last for teams on the playground. Still in the future lies his humiliation at the effeminacy he’ll hear  and hate in his own voice on a tape recorder; and later his self-recrimination for the homophobic taunts directed at him by other boys in gym class. Over the decades, his shame will turn into a young man’s self-loathing for the child he’d been.  

My task now, and increasingly my joy, is to father that boy. To reach back across half a century, to bring him to this cabin. To make a home for him here. To tell him that he’s just fine, he’s beautiful, he’s worthy of love. In showing compassion towards him, I find my compassion for others.

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