Saturday, January 3, 2009

A visit from the Should Family: those pesky inner demons

At one point in The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia Bourgeault quotes a Baptist theologian, who says the whole of his Sunday School teaching can be summed up in one phrase (said in a strong Texas drawl): "Jesus is nice, and he wants us to be nice, too."

Okay, so I get that that's an over-simplification. But how can I justify my time spent blogging and meditating if it doesn't make me a nicer person? I mean, if I'm spending all this energy trying to take on the mind of Christ, trying to move into that space where I am at one with God and with humanity, wouldn't you expect that I would be, at the same time, becoming more tolerant of the people around me?

Because it doesn't seem to be working that way -- at least, it wasn't yesterday. I wonder now if it all began with the image I used yesterday, and the way it reminded me of retreats and how they feel. However it began, the fact is that I spent much of yesterday holed up in my little office (where I have to confess I had NO IMPORTANT TASKS to busy myself with), and everytime I came up for air I found myself resenting the interruptions from the other members of my household.


And shouldn't the really rich wonderful work that I get to do in the morning before they all wake up be somehow filling my cup, so that I can just be happily overflowing into the rest of the day?

My neighbor sent me a quote a day or two ago from Ortega y Gasset: "A bore is one who deprives us of our solitude without providing companionship." But when she first told me about the quote, she described it slightly differently. Instead of the word "companionship" she used some other phrase that really resonated with me, something that implied they were giving us something we want or need. And apparently I don't need companionship right now.

Because I can't say the interruptions aren't providing companionship: they are. In almost every case (with one exception, which may have been a bit of a last straw, when, fiercely hungry and having already asked if we could go out to dinner and been refused that option, I had to drive into town to the restaurant where my DAUGHTER got to have dinner in order to deliver a cellphone one of our departing houseguests had left behind) the interruptions are ALWAYS offers of companionship: "Can I show you this" or "Listen to this, isn't this funny" or "Let's do this together." But for some reason, yesterday I resented them all. So if Jesus wants us to be nice, it isn't working for me.

To those members of my family at whom I snapped yesterday, I offer my humble apologies. And for the rest of you who read this blog, HELP! Yes, I understand that sharing a house for weeks on end with three other people and whatever additional friends are floating around can be stressful when you're used to having a lot of alone time. But shouldn't all this meditation stuff be making it easier for me to accommodate the constant shifts in routine?

Ah, it's another visit from the Should Family. I should have known!


Unknown said...

I think it's supposed to make you more aware of the pitfalls, when you fall into them. I don't think it changes the world around us, and it may not even change our deepest character much, except (to poorly paraphrase Fr. Rohr), Once you begin to see, you weep more and you laugh more.
I wonder if that means that we are okay with God, no matter how broken we feel we are...unconditional love is SO hard to believe!
BTW, I can relate to the irritation that you are expressing. This, too, shall pass. Sending love to you.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I would have killed or at least maimed someone by now if it were me. I love lots of lovely alone time and do not do well with unscheduled interruptions. I surely sympathize. Hang in there!