Many years ago I attended a retreat as a staff member. One of my responsibilities was to ensure our council drum (I was the care taker) made it to the retreat
I forgot it.
When I realized what I hadn’t done, I began to find reasons it didn’t matter.
- Another man had brought a drum that would do.
- It wasn’t really that important.
- I also proceeded to recruit allies to my reasoning.
- I thought I had a plan.
But the rationalization process started to separate me from other at the retreat. I was beginning to feel more isolated and alone that I normally felt.
Then something seemingly unrelated happened, one of my molars shattered while biting a Tootsie Pop. If I wasn’t emotionally isolated enough, this sent me to a different plane of consciousness, completely removed from my follow retreat goers. My tongue was permanently trying to plug the vacancy in my mouth, making conversation difficult.
During the intake process I was confronted by my failure to follow through on my commitment.
Rather than sanction me I was challenged to make an attempt to find someone that was coming the next day to bring the drum. This was long before cell phones smaller that a car battery and texting.
I managed to find a phone, call my wife and give her the name and number of someone who was coming. I asked her to call him and ask if he would pick up the drum and bring it with him.
Once I was done with the call I became present to the weekend. The space in my mouth with the broken tooth was no longer the center of my attention.
This is only one of my instances I’ve had where when I took responsibility for my failures and made an honest attempt to make amends, that I experienced almost immediate relief from guilt and alienation.
This always works. Not without pain. But ultimately it sets me free.
By the way, the drum did make it to the retreat.