By Susan Stone

Last Sunday I heard a sermon on Safe Harbors. The talk primarily focused on personal safety and the state of our world at this time. However my mind went on to ponder the question; in what ways can I/we be a safe harbor for others?

If someone shares a secret or a personal situation with you, do you honor that trust and keep it to yourself? In the past I have trusted close friends with personal matters, only to hear about it from someone else I know. This lesson of discernment and finding out who your friends really are can be a painful one. On the flip side, there are those who may never trust me again because I thought it wouldn’t hurt to just tell one person…or two. In my ministerial training I was asked to sign an agreement. The promise I made and signed my name to seemed simple enough, but it has been a challenge to keep. Our human nature is a curious one. We love to know things that other’s do not. A juicy bit of news is hard to keep to myself and yet, if I am to be trustworthy, I must.

Another issue of safety concerns speaking your truth. If you are criticized for your opinions, you will not feel safe speaking them. If you want your children, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers to tell you the truth, you must be a person who can hear it…even if you don’t like it. When my daughter was little, I told her that I was her soft place to fall in this world. I told her I would never hold truth against her. I could take it, whatever it was. As a result she told me things that made me want to tell her father and other parents, but I didn’t. The only exception I ever made was if what she told me could result in harm to her or another. And even at that, I told her ahead of time and explained why I had to do the right thing.

Are you a safe harbor? Would a lost child find you kind and helpful? Would a homeless person, a Muslim, a homosexual? If someone needs a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear…are you a soft place to fall? Are you only safe with people you are similar to? Not being a world traveler, I have little experience with being in a strange place, with language I don’t understand. I can only imagine that it would take some getting used to. We don’t see high profile military units or machine guns every day in America, so I am sure it feels unnerving to unseasoned travelers.

Personal safety is a global concern. We have spent billions of dollars since “9/11” to make America safer. What an illusion. If we choose a steady diet of “talking heads” on the news, we may never feel safe again! We have managed (through our fear) to give away much of our freedom in the name of “safety”. No laws and no amount of military spending will keep you from the inevitable. At some point, we will all go home. We cannot stop it. We will all drop our bodies at some point and go. It is the most natural thing you will do, next to arriving here in the first place.

We either feel safe in the world or we don’t, based on our life experience and what we allow others to tell us about the world. It is not a debate, it is a feeling. I have lived through some perilous times…most of my own making and I have come away feeling like I have an Angel on my shoulder.

I believe that if I want to feel safe in this world, then I must help others to find a safe harbor too.