Letters to Jesus (Unhelpful Mindsets and Attitudes)-4
The difference between a good person and an evil one may be that a good person seeks to avoid all that is evil; but the difference between a good person and a saint may be that in the saint there is no guile.
Guile is very subtle and we tend, especially in our culture, not to regard it as downright deception. Yet there certainly is that tinge of self-interest which keeps it from being a virtue.
I find myself most susceptible to guile when I’m trying to convince myself that I am what I am not and then trying to convince others of this. I know I am guilty of trying to beguile others about myself, but first of all I am guilty of trying to beguile myself about myself.
There is much of beguilement in trying to meet the needs of others when we are truly not inclined to do so. But love or a caring concern washes our guile.Guile has a great deal to do with keeping up appearances.
There is an underlying fear that if our soul was laid bare and others knew us as You do the image to which we have beguiled ourselves would be devastated as would those we beguile for want of otherwise hurting them.
Guile can be kind, but less than honest. It helps us to keep others from seeing that which we would not wish them to see – especially with those who know us best. It is a kind of covering for our nakedness and it is constantly underpinned by our pride.
However, there does seem to be a positive aspect to guile that is justified by prudence. In our knowledge of others we come to learn that certain things may not be said or done to someone because of the hurt, discomfort or scandal it might bring them. Love, it seems, may need some guile now and then. Silence itself is something of beguilement.
How is it then that we can say in a saint there is not guile? To peal away all guile is to become painfully, nakedly, bluntly honest – so much so that we are totally vulnerable not just to others but to the painfulness of our own existence. Without any guile we can really perceive of ourselves as a pain. The historical progression of guile through the serpent in Eden to successive generations puts it at the root of our humanity. Guile is an apparently most acceptable element in the sexuality of men and women. Yet, all in all, there seems to be an important difference between the guile of outright deception and the guile of love. Our character, integrity and personality are molded and shaped by the guile we cultivate throughout our lives. While we know perfectly well that You see us with our guile totally stripped away we nevertheless seek to continue to beguile You. It is the fig leaf with which we hope to hide our humanity and we nurture it because we really want to believe what we have beguiled ourselves into thinking we are. Guile rules the false self. It is more of an intrinsic human flaw than an evil. The one who can be human and still overcome the flaws of being human is the saint.