When we say, “You’re only as healthy as your secrets,” we almost always mean this in a negative way – we’re speaking of destructive secrets, held in the shadows so that we can pretend the reality isn’t there. At the level of society we put young people of color into jails and prisons and then pretend they no longer exist. We crowd cows, pigs and chickens into immobilizing cages and brutalize them until they are slaughtered – another unhealthy societal secret. We have accepted the word of agro-chemical that pesticides were harmless for bees and birds and other creatures, participating in the deception, becoming secret-keepers to the destruction of other species.
At the individual level we also keep negative secrets from ourselves. 12-step programs have helped millions of people shed light into the caves of their minds and hearts and become healthy.
Today, though, we hear Jesus talking about healthy secrets. Jesus advises his listeners to do good in secret, where others won’t praise us and tempt us to change our motivation for doing good to the gaining of admiration for ourselves.
Positive secrets have a positive value in themselves, that is, the holding of a positive secret in your heart shines spiritual light within you, nourishes your inner life and causes it to grow and develop.
During Lent we fast to make room in our hearts for positive secrets to take root and grow. We don’t give attention to the many that occupy us normally so that more subtle, invisible qualities can be nurtured.
You can listen to my Grace Cathedral Ash Wednesday sermon on healthy secrets, growing compassion in the inner self, here: http://www.gracecathedral.org/cathedral-life/worship/listen/detail.php?fid=444