One is off. Another is close. My toenails, I mean. (Before you faint of heart quit reading, take courage. This post is not about toenails). Last Saturday at yoga, every time I went into down dog or forward fold, the very first thing my eyes were drawn to was the missing deep red toenail. I can't bear to look at it. It just bothered me that I could not get away from the one thing that looked so different than all the rest.
On Friday night Tiffany and I caught a showing of the movie Doubt. It was fascinating--riveting, actually. I highly recommend it. Especially because I can't stop thinking about it. I even dreamed about it. There's a power in suspicion, in doubt. I was drawn to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Father Flynn character because of his compassion and his ability to question and grapple. I was intrigued by Meryl Streep's character--Aloysius (now there's a name), and the way she dealt with her own insecurities by heaping them onto other people. And I was haunted by the contrasts among nuns and priests, among children and adults, among whites and blacks, men and women.
So why a post on doubt, suspicion, and conflict on a blog that's supposed to be about tender mercies, you may ask? Because I do NOT want to turn into this:Because that character turned out to be more motivating to me than anything else. I watched as one insecurity led to suspicion cast outside of herself to planting seeds in other people, to really solidifying doubt. And I'm intrigued by Father Flynn's observation of doubt in his opening sermon: that it can be a unifying force, much like faith. One suspicion leads to another, leading to a fragmented unity that pierces and divides much more than it can ever truly unite.
That night I dreamed about some of my own personal suspicions and doubts. It was as if I was outside myself, because I saw what I am becoming--a product of my own insecurities on several different levels. In the power of dream-land, I literally cast off that negativity, and I felt myself surrounded by light and hope. It was incredible.
So this is my tender mercy. I love how Jeffrey R. Holland says that the greatest, most hopeful word is repent. I love letting go and changing. I yearn to turn my doubts into hopes, both in myself and in the people around me. Instead of fearing my bumpy under-toenail because it's so different, I want to value it as a medal--a tribute to a marathon and to many miles. Too many miles. It sets me apart.