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Imagine this baptismal ceremony. The priest, the congregation, and the new parents join together freely and sincerely to execute a covenant before God and among themselves to permit, encourage, and assist the fresh-born child to be who she or he is. “We welcome among us God’s unique and perfect expression as this infant” and, to the child, “You are who you are. Be who you are, with our blessings and applause.”
This means, of course, that there is no place here for expectations or preconceived notions. We cannot know God’s plans for this new arrival, and we must not foul them by our own interference and meddling. Mom and Dad will want to acknowledge that the youngster may or may not choose to follow in their footsteps or to make choices according to their directions. The minister must recognize that the youth may come to select a different church, or no church at all. The congregation will need to accept the possibility that the new-born may grow to adopt an altogether different set of values from their own. And his or her spouse, if any, and friends and colleagues, must be prepared and determined to allow the unexpected. Once again, this newly baptized child remains free to be who he or she is, we said, with our nourishing encouragement.
Ego te absolvo. It is Latin, and it means I forgive you. That is, I free you from me and from any sense of duty or responsibility, consciously or unconsciously transmitted, to be what I would have you be.
Try this yourself. Take a long and hard look around you at the personalities in your life. Near and far. Your spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, co-workers, friends, enemies, teachers. Even God. Invite each of them individually to such a baptism in the sanctuary of your heart. Rehearse in your mind the expectations you have harbored for each of them, and recall the judgments you have levied against them for falling short of your design. Do this not with tortured guilt or blinding fear, but quietly, with love. Now, in an instant, release them. Let them go, to be who and what they are. To each, whisper softly, ego te absolvo. I forgive you. I free you from all the ideas about you that I have been projecting onto you for so long. I free you to be who you are.
And now, beloved friend, raise a mirror to your face, and go through this holy ceremony once again, thoroughly. For just as surely as we judge and pre-judge, limit and constrain, others, so do we ourselves. And just as surely as we must permit them to be who they are, so must we permit ourselves.
And then, finally, once done, feel the awesome burden lift from your shoulders.
Ego te absolvo. I release you from the molds and binding chains forged by my expectations about you. I have constructed and, for so long, carried in my mind an image of what I wanted you to be, the kind of activities I hoped you would pursue and the type of behavior you would display. I thought, really I did, that this was for your good, but now I see that all along it has been far more about me and what I wanted, and what I thought others expected me to want, than it has been about you. And I release it, every trace of it, right now. I free you to be whoever you are, to explore and realize your own special, magnificent, and divine potential without respect to the patterns and standards I inherited and that I permitted to come between us and to confuse our relationship. Go forth now to do what you are inwardly moved to do, attend to those activities that your mind, heart, and hands naturally reach for, and know that I am no longer in the wings measuring, comparing, evaluating, or analyzing.
Free at last. Both of us. For as I free you, I free myself. The instant I release the myriad expectations I have of you, I release as well the energy required of me to keep them alive, the energy converted into anger or disappointment when inevitably you fail at being the you I insist upon. And the energy devoted to trying to meet your expectations of me. For even where I have judged and caged, of course, so have you, and no more than you, can I fulfill another’s expectations. And, too, I release the energy that all these years I have directed toward forcing myself into being what I thought I ought to be rather than simply, effortlessly, letting myself be what God created me to be. To be who I am.
Ego te absolvo! Sing it, shout it, dance it.
Behold, the Father hears, sees, and applauds. Instantly, the Universe moves with joy, precision, and abundance to permit, encourage, and assist this new arrival.
Here’s a thought: