Naked Trees, Naked People

Winter is upon us. Snow is on the ground. The foliage of bushes and trees is no longer present. The hideous mess in our back yard can no longer be hidden by the leaves filling the tree tops. We can look across the yards now, with nothing being shielded. All is available to be seen. I was thinking about what it meant for trees to be laid bare, and I remembered a passage from the insightful Frederick Buechner. He wrote:

“Everybody knows what everybody else looks like with no clothes on, but there are few of us who would consider going around in public without them. It is our sexuality that we’re most concerned to hide from each other, needless ot say, although one sometimes wonders why. Males and females both come with mroe or less standard equipment after all. There would be no major surprises.”

He continues:

“Maybe our hunger to know each other fully naked is in the last analysis simply our hunger to know each other fully. I want to know you with all your defenses down, all your pretenses set aside, all your secrets laid bare.”

There is something about being naked that stirs our hearts. And not just in an erotic love sense. But there is something about being stripped of all labels, of all walls built up around you, and of all fig leaves trying to cover mistakes that is liberating. And yet frightening. Liberating because you can be yourself, truly yourself, and not have to pretend to be something you are not. Frightening because it makes you vulnerable. Very vulnerable. You may be free to be yourself, but what if the other person cannot accept you for that, or worse, what if the other cannot love you being you? We see this picture in Genesis when Adam and Eve cover themselves with fig leaves, afraid of God seeing them for who they truly are. If original sin has taught us anything, it’s to never let people see your true self or your vulnerability. And so we shy away from being naked with one another, not necessarily in the physical sense, but we always cover our tracks. But as I mentioned before, being naked is liberating. It’s freeing. It creates space for you to be yourself. This is why, I believe, the Song of Solomon is in the bible. It’s a picture of what being naked with another means. Otherwise with lines like, “Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit,'” we might think the Song of Solomon to be simply another X-rated porn flick. But it’s not. It is a window into what it means to be truly human especially in the realm of being truly human with another. Because to be human in its rawest form, is to be naked with another.

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