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Trust, it is said, comes on foot but leaves on horseback! It takes a very long time to build trust. When you trust someone you feel safe and secure enough to surrender the key to the inner sanctum of your life to him. The key you surrender is not a duplicate but the original! You run the risk of being locked out of your own home! In a way, you invest your life in the person you trust, so that the person who receives your trust, then has free access to your personal secrets and struggles and your own personal and private world. This investment takes time to yield interest. Trust pulls down the barriers between persons. They come closer to each other. There is total transparency. This is the reason why trust is so sacred. Trust, however, always remains a risk for we can never be absolutely certain that the trust reposed in a person will not be betrayed. This is the reason why treachery is so painful and almost irreparable. When we trust someone, that person like a mirror reflects us to ourselves. A breach of trust is like shattering a mirror. We can never put the pieces together. And even if we do, we can never get a clear reflection of ourselves again.

We need to trust. We need to share. We need friendship. We need a soul friend, a spiritual guide, an Anam Cara, to be our compass so that we do not traverse or wander through the desert of life alone. A soul friend is one with whom we can freely strip and be our naked selves. I recall a dear elderly Religious Sister who once told me: “Every priest needs a ‘girl friend’ in the best sense of the term.” She was in no way a protagonist of a married clergy! The complementarity of man and woman is God’s creative way of reminding us that we need one another because He has made us incomplete. God, as Juliana of Norwich and other mystics would say, is both Father and Mother. Therefore, it is not good for man to be alone. Celibate priests who ruthlessly reject a healthy and human relationship with women are bound to feel the pinch and poverty of celibacy. Yet we need to carefully discern before we decide with whom we can share our secrets and struggles. We can do so only with persons who are significant in our life; persons, whom we know, will not betray us; persons who will revere the trust we have reposed in them; persons who will not use or abuse what we have shared in strict confidentiality; persons who have stood the test of time; persons who have been given access to our sanctuary and will not vandalise or secularise it.

Trust can never be demanded. It is freely given. It always remains a gift, coming not from the merit of the recipient but from the goodness of the giver. The persons who can hurt us the most are the very ones whom we have trusted the most; persons in whom we have confided our deepest selves; persons who know us through and through. They know our strengths and our weaknesses. They know our likes and our dislikes. They can easily exploit and expose us. Indeed, no man is a hero to his valet. Persons who breach our trust can break us. Is it possible to put the broken pieces of a shattered mirror together again? Is it possible to trust someone again who has betrayed us in the past? We are not expected to trust anyone and everyone. To share our deepest secrets with one and all is tantamount to psychological prostitution. Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. No wonder it comes on foot and leaves on horseback!

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