October 28th, 2012Lost and Foundby Dena Hunt
Language can obscure truth, sometimes charitably, euphemistically, to avoid giving offense to others; but also sometimes to protect ourselves from what we don’t want to see. When the latter motive is in play, untangling the knotted web of deceit can be a slow, sometimes interrupted, step-by-step process, which can take months, even years, until the last knot is untangled and “suddenly” the whole thing is revealed. We feel shock then, but when the shock is past, we look back and see clearly what was so obscure before.
The untangling must always begin with the first-person pronoun I, never with you. If it begins with any pronoun other than I, it hasn’t really begun. The I is like the little stick man on those google maps; it’s the necessary reference point. So: I lost a friend. I do not mean, euphemistically, that someone died; I mean I lost a friendship. How did I lose the friendship? I lost it by “suddenly” discovering it was false. The discovery only seemed to be sudden; it actually took a long time. But—if the friendship was false, how could it be a loss? Why am I grieving? The answer is that I’m grieving for the loss of an illusion. I believed it was a real friendship only because I wanted it to be so. And there it is: untangled.
There’s an odd thing about right use of language, about fidelity to truth. We’re given unlooked-for rewards—like understanding some things that might have otherwise remained incomprehensible, and even a new capacity for forgiveness that might have remained unknown to us before. For instance, I never really understood how forgiveness without apology or repentance is possible (the kind Christ gave from the Cross), but I think I understand now that there really are people who “know not what they do.”
What is found is far greater than what was lost.
(I have not provided any irrelevant details here, just what I believe to be a universal human experience: There are people whom we must always forgive and whom we must never trust.)