Naked Truth

Autumn 2011 #11


“The first step will be an Assessment Officer coming to your home to watch you take a shower”
Say what?!
Did you just utter the words I think I heard you utter or did I imagine you uttering something that was not your utterance at all?

Such a moment has much in common with a near-death experience.  Time decelerates.  An other-worldliness descends. A thousand crystal-clear words pass through one’s mind in the time it takes the other person to say three. But the other person’s words are lost.  Their lips are moving, oh so slowly, but the noise is all white.

Sorry, what was that?
“Yes, an assessment.  Don’t worry; all our staff are very well trained”.
As if training were somehow a blind for the supreme immodesty of being observed whilst showering.
“Just hop behind my diploma and take of your clothes please”.

Until a fortnight ago I had scarcely noticed the nineteenth word in this phrase: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35).  Abruptly this passage became my daily meditation, a mantra perhaps, as the dreadful day of unveiling drew near!

(If, by the way the way, you are reading this and actually know me, or – worse – happen to be related to me, or – unthinkably! – you are one of my children; then you may prefer something else to read at this point. There, you have been warned!)

Showering, as it turns out, is actually the pinnacle of human physical prowess.  Harder than playing a musical instrument, which I can still do; harder than catching as many as seven busses in a wheelchair to get to the office, or the hydrotherapy pool, which I can do excellently!  So difficult, in fact, that I marvel it has not become an Olympic event.  Showering I cannot do.

The Designated Day of Disrobing finally arrived; dawning in welcome relief to a sleepless night.  The Assessment Officer, a she-assessment-officer as it happened, came with a clipboard no less!  I am currently applying under the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the contents of the clipboard, as I must know what there was about my exhibited physique that she found so noteworthy.

And so, beginning with the visit from the District Nurse, a Routine of Revelation has now commenced: every day or two a pair of nursing eyes – highly trained no doubt – come to Paradise and behold all.  Thankfully I am finding that the New Testament’s words hold true.  True in that the more things change, they more they stay fundamentally the same.  True in that when the worst of all things comes along there is little to fear after all.  Is it embarrassing to undress for a complete stranger?  Yes it is.  Is it worse still to be undressed by that stranger?  Far worse. Does it matter? Not in the least.  In fact the paradigm “less is more” rings true.
No, not less clothing!
Less apprehension – more trust.
Less self-consciousness – more acceptance.
Less pretension – more ‘stark’ reality.
Less pride – more acceptance of the fact that I am, after all, just me.
Plain old naked me, needing help in the shower.

Many years ago the shoe was ‘off’ the other foot when I worked as a volunteer with Sydney City Mission.  It was often my job to supervise the showering of intoxicated, derelict men that the vans picked up nightly from wintry, inner-city streets.   I can’t help wondering: did I, as a twenty year old drenching old men with litres of ghastly de-lousing tonic, show any of the kindness and tact that I now receive?  I have no way of knowing.  I am almost … almost … glad to have discovered by experience something quite wonderful: we are a community that can comfortably and competently care for one another’s intimate needs.  How good it is be one amongst many.

Our ensuite bathroom is no Garden of Eden.  There’s not so much as a potted fern in there, let alone Devil’s Ivy.  Nonetheless, in its confines I feel no shame.   Well, not much.


2 thoughts on “Naked Truth

  1. Ann

    This is so true, Roderick. After the first time…actually, as the first time occurs, we know we’re in safe hands. The hands of the Lord come to mind as well.
    “Less is more” in your sense is a very helpful phrase. Thank you!

  2. anne iuliano

    Oh Rod, you’ve made a funny story out of such a challenging situation. My heart goes out to you, my emotions thank you for enlightening those of us who have not had to go thru such an experience, my brain asks isn’t there a better way of doing that, and my spirit says thank you God for men like Rod who help us grow as bigger people by their example.

    love Anne

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