You find your way back down.
And I'll keep the area clear…please clear the area.
When you find your way back down…in one piece.
Then I'll just be waiting here…right here.
–Imogen Heap, from "Clear the Area"
What does it mean to be clear, to express oneself clearly, to think clearly, to listen clearly, to understand clearly? What schmutz might interfere with clarity?
Schmutz: Yiddish for residue, dirt, dust, or stain. Sometimes I joke with my clients about a "schmutzometer," like a little internal meter that indicates when we have a build-up of emotional residue that needs to be cleaned out. (A little levity helps sometimes.)
Where does that internal schmutz come from?
Interpretations, assumptions, misunderstandings, and miscommunication are frequent sources of internal schmutz. Being the target of harassment, violence, oppression or discrimination often leaves a hefty layer of schmutz in our bodies, souls and psyches. Holding in or holding back unexpressed feelings, secrets, and trauma can also create internal schmutz.
It delights me to be writing about clarity because it reminds me about the most sacred and powerful tool in Courage work and Circles of Trust: the Clearness Committee. Clearness Committees are circles of trust, rooted in the longstanding Quaker tradition:
We trust the soul, its reality and power, its self sufficiency, its capacity to speak truth, its ability to help us listen and respond to what we hear.
We trust each other to have the intention, discipline, and goodwill to create and hold a space that is safe enough to welcome the soul.
–Parker Palmer, from A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, p. 66
How do you clear out your schmutz in order to hold a space that is safe enough to welcome your soul? What story do your eyes tell? With whom can you feel truly safe, heard and respected? What do you need in order to have greater and more satisfying clarity in your life?
The coast is clear. Amen.