The Temple of Trust

One of my earliest memories is of my father coming home from work one day. I was dressed up in a cowboy outfit complete with toy guns on my hips. I joyfully ran out to greet my father. He got out of the car and immediately began playing cowboy and outlaw with me using his finger to fire off several rounds. He clipped my shoulder with an imaginary bullet, but I was able to continue my pursuit of the dastardly criminal. I remember shrieking with joy as I played with my father, so happy he was home, so happy to be playing with him. I was probably about three years old.

If you told me, I can either keep all my possessions but lose that memory or I could keep that memory and lose all my possessions, I would choose to keep that memory.

Later as a father myself, my most cherished memories of my children is holding them in my arms and tossing them up in the air a little bit (usually over a bed) and catching them in my arms. They would shriek with joy at the freedom of being airborne and seemed to have complete confidence in my ability to catch them. There was a look in their eyes and on their faces of pure joy and excitement. Of all the beautiful memories I have of my children and their lives, if I could only keep one, it would be of that look on their faces as we played that game of “Whee!”

I have been thinking why those two different memories, as a child and as a father, mean so much to me. I think it is because both moments are fully enwrapped in a form of trust where nothing mattered. There was no consideration of consequences. For that moment, for that time, we were sharing something much deeper than play. My father set aside his worries, his challenges, and I totally trusted my father as a playmate, as a friend, but also something much bigger, deeper. It was if I had entered a very special place deep within me and with him, the Temple of Trust.

Again, although perhaps a different form, trust was at the center of my playing with my own young children. They exhibited a pure trust in their father as their playmate, as their friend, their protector, but something else was going on too. In both cases, trust created a moment of joy and wonder and memories for a lifetime. Interestingly enough, the very concept of trust was not on anybody’s mind. It was just a natural state of being.

As I grew older, had more experiences, my trust as a child became more complicated. There was a series of conditions that needed to be met before entering into trusting relationships and with that a certain sense of wonder and awe and companionship was lost. As I matured intellectually, learning who and when to trust was really an important part of surviving physically and emotionally. Figuring out the Trust equation can take up a lot of one’s life though. Cynicism is the weed that grows in the garden when the flower of Trust is disappearing. Without knowing it, you can begin not trusting in yourself any longer too. It can show up in oh so many ways and fears. Even as I am writing this, I don’t entirely trust myself or to be honest, you either. What crazed person would write about such a subject as trust? Don’t you know there are at least 360 degrees to look at this topic from? Who do I think I am?

A few years ago, when I had to have emergency surgery, decisions had to be made quite quickly and it felt like my world was spinning out of my control. With each increasing setback, I was becoming an object instead of the subject of my existence. Surgery was needed immediately and my wife was at my side all the way, being an advocate and trying to display courage for the good of my own wellbeing. Now, this was not uncommon for her, as we had been through much in our 47 years of marriage, and she never waivered in her total support of me in all those years and even before.

Yet, I was under some heavy drugs as they prepared me quickly for surgery and just before going unconscious I asked her, “Can I trust you?” This was a terrible question to ask of her and I have thought about the reason behind it for several years now. Certainly we say all sorts of crazy things under heavy duty medication, I know that, but it still bothered me until recently. What I came to understand, with all my ego barriers down, I was not asking her if she was trustworthy. I was actually asking myself if I am a trusting person? Am I a person of trust? It wasn’t her question, it was mine. At that point, I was being tossed up in the air and my last thoughts were really “Do I trust?” Would I enter the Temple of Trust? My wife was already there for me.

This blog originally documented my search for a faith that I could have hope in. My previous experiences in organized religion, particularly Christianity and its evangelical flavor, actually supported my journey in the opposite direction of trust. Quite frankly, the god I was presented with was really not one to be trusted. Now I think that god was perhaps even idolatry in form and function, made in the image of man. In the last ten years, I have had glimpses of a much bigger- and One that is beyond definition – God.

I have, we all have, so many reasons to support our lack of trust. And, it doesn’t seem fair that in order to experience something so special that makes our life memorable, we have to become trusting, and vulnerable to the inevitable disappointments of people and circumstances. Jesus on the cross is the best example I know of in trusting through it All.

I suppose, in a very real way, we all trust in something though because our mistrust is actually an indication of what we do trust. I deal with it all the time in so many ways. For me, it now feels like it is important that I begin trusting more in love than in fear. That is what I experienced so long ago while playing with my father and later with my children, a joyous love that was soulfully embedded in trust. If those are memories I cherish so deeply, there must be something very sacred in the Temple of Trust.