I am returning to Pastor Edward Raby’s post, Naked Before God Part 1, as there is more there that I have been mulling over these past few days. In a previous post I had a few words in response to vulnerability, the first of six positive spiritual aspects of nudity. As a counsellor I am well aware of how vulnerability is vital in working with someone who comes for help because of the wounds suffered in living. A good listen regarding vulnerability is available as a T.E.D. presentation by Brené Brown for those who want to have a deeper psychological understanding of vulnerability. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean that one becomes a victim or powerless. What it does mean is that we open ourselves to the truth of who we are, and usually in doing so, discover our strengths as well as our weaknesses.
In this post I want to focus on the second positive spiritual aspect of nudity, that of openness. Openness is not simply being clothes-less. It is a state of mind that has barriers removed so that one allows the self to be seen as well as allowing the self to see without filters, without preconceived notions. The image to the right shows a woman who has been photographed nude by Carl-Magnus Dumell. The title given was “openness.” By openness, I assume the fact that the subject was nude was the reason for the title. As I look at the image, I get the sense of vulnerable rather than open as she would be experiencing it at a deeper than surface level, at a psychological and spiritual level.
Openness as Raby proposes, is an admission and a realisation that there is nothing to hide, that God sees through us whether we hide behind several layers of clothing or behind positions of power, behind whatever persona we adopt including that of being a victim. One has to admit that there is no place to hide. There is no doubt in my mind, that the fact that we don’t, perhaps can’t, live lives of perfection, without sin leads us to hide. Psychologically, we begin by hiding from ourselves. We hide those faces of ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to see; we hide them so well we even forget that they ever existed. They fall into our personal shadow. We also hide behind lies, big lies and little lies, in order to protect ourselves, to avoid being so vulnerable. We hide behind our roles in life, sometimes so much so that we begin to think that the sum total of who we are is found in those roles. We also hide behind denial, addictions and distractions. The last thing we want to do is to be present with ourselves. However, openness demands being present, fully present.
Nudity forces us to confront the reality of at least our bodies. Curiously, it also opens the doorway to more as we begin to accept the fact of our bodies, the fact of our vulnerable nakedness. When one dares, then, to consciously reach toward whatever it is that we hold as our spiritual centre – God, Allah, Yahweh, etc. – it is as though a doorway opens between self and the One. There is no place to hide from God, whether it is in the mind, or in the body, or in the spirit. For as was written:
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
There is no hiding when God is to be found in your body, in your mind, in your heart and in your soul as well as in nature, in the works of man, and the places we would feel would be the last place on Earth where she/he would be found.