When Promises are Broken

My friend, Bill, reflects that some promises must be broken; it would be blasphemy to keep them. And I'm reminded of a book written by Anthony Padavano back in the late 1960's. It came as such a revelation to me at the time, and yet its message is quite obvious. Our essential promise is to life itself--to live fully. Or as a very early Christian wrote: The glory of God is a human being fully alive. (was that Clement?) So, if in our ignorance or even in our arrogance we promise to set out on a course that turns out to be self-destructive, or destructive to another, or to the community or the earth, that promise must be broken.

As life progresses we have the opportunity to see more and to see more clearly and simply. Watch how our wise elders clear out the spaces of their lives. Even good things are given away, even things that hold the memory of beloved people or events. The more cluttered my house, my mind, my heart, my soul, the less I can see God. Blessed are the pure/simple of heart. Some promises are part of that clutter.

I've spent most of my life believing that promises are the glue that holds everything together. And for a long time this is probably true. But there is, perhaps, a moment at which some promise has us stuck in place, gluing our eyes, gluing our hearts, gluing our senses our souls our spirits, closing us down. It's time for cleansing.

It's frightening, terrifying even, to break a promise. There have been times I wanted to do anything but. Some people would rather go crazy or even die. Terrible mourning can set in after breaking/cleansing a promise that is no long creative, especially if we've set our lives and identity upon keeping it. We don't know everything; in fact we only know the slightest bit; sometimes I think I know nothing at all. We make mistakes. We've promised, sometimes, to continue in our mistakes. That promise is deadly.

Do you think it is possible that the only promise God asks of us is to BE? and that all the other promises are offshoots of that one? 


Vintageelena said…
Christin--your recent post strikes a chord with me. Too often I think people cling to a promise made not from integrity but from vanity--to be able to say-"I keep my promises". A promise, if made honestly and with integrity, is a living thing. Like all living things it is born, grows to fullness, withers and then dies. To cling to a dead promise makes all the sense of chaining yourself to a corpse.
Thanks for visiting, Elena. Your comment is well said and helps to refine this pondering over promises. A promise is a living thing....I like that especially.
Florrie Deaner said…
Yes, I do think that God gives us life in order to be & every thing is ancillary to that.

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