Thursday, 12 February 2015
Dear Inner Circle,
Heading out to a lunchtime appointment yesterday there were some young people giving out cards to everyone in the street. They were an enthusiastic bunch so that everyone in the street got a card which I think was an invitation to join a gym. Everyone but me! I took some comfort from the thought that each of these fit looking young people judged that nothing more could be done to perfect this body of mine.
We had another difficult but powerful funeral this week. This was a funeral where some people needed to be assisted just to walk into the Chapel. During the ceremony there were outbursts of loud groaning as well as powerful statements said by people who were shocked and reaching for words. The coffin left the building while “The Old Rugged Cross” was being played. Lots of people sang the song, not because they are particularly religious but because this is a community who understands the shock of death and the dreadful cost of love. When we were placing the coffin in the hearse, a young woman threw herself on the coffin and wailed, “Mum!” We do important things here.
A member of our inner circle asked me to write on the topic of 'anger' this week. “What can I do with my anger?” I realise there could be a dozen questions behind this question and although I’ve never done this before, I’ll give it a shot.
If you think of yourself as an individual, then asking me about anger is a bit like asking me how to surf while we stand in the middle of the Simpson Desert. Liberation often comes through an exercise of the feet rather than an exercise of the head. Analysis of emotions from times past is an absorbing activity that mostly camouflages the path to life. Feelings are a fabulous gift that add colour to life but they can only be felt in the past tense. In the present moment when the whole self is engaged, no particular feeling can be identified because all the feelings are active.
An ‘individual' knows who they are in distinction to others. A ‘person' knows who they are in relation to others. An individual talks of my feelings, my philosophy, my track record etc. You know you’ve dropped out of humanity and into a world of your own when you habitually find that you’re the smartest person in the room. Fundamental to this discussion, is the territory from which it is asked. There is no such thing as a single human being. The smallest human unit requires at least two. The word, “I” could only ever describe half of something. If you’re living a disconnected life, no amount of explanation or training courses or self help books will ease the human contradiction. Human contradiction is where meetings no longer take place between people but within. An absorption with the inner life is endlessly fascinating and difficult to deal with because even the pain of being a human contradiction produces a range of feelings, most of which are fascinating and sometimes, soothing. A moth cannot help but be attracted to the sunshine of a 40 watt bulb.
Most of us are angry some of the time. That most people get angry when they are drunk says to me that most are repressing and struggling with angry feelings. There are times when there is no choice but to engage in some kind of anger management, but this is mostly when the battle is lost. I know it’s near impossible to listen to someone who is angry in your face. It can be done but it's difficult.
One last thing. Perhaps the anger is produced because someone in your life needs you to be their door mat. You may be someone’s possession, even a highly prized possession but that isn’t love. Love is between two. If someone is using you as their doormat you need to learn to stand your ground. I don’t mean you need to be stubborn. You just need to know that love is between two and if someone requires you to be their thing, you need to jump on a bus to a place where new relationships can be built, for you are no thing. You are you. You are the perfect example of you. Emotions, including anger, are a feature of life lived but emotions are the musical score to the film, not the plot of the film. All emotions are just emotions.
Its been a big week. I hope some of this has been helpful.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Previous Inner Circles
5 February: Chest pains
29 January: Shear joy
22 January 2015: Fully alive
15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions
8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory
18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand
11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill
4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night
27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better
20 November 2014: Gathering Moss
13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people
6 November 2014: The power of presence
30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence
23 October 2014: The joy of sight
16 October 2014: The best medicine
9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?
2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist
21 August: Saving souls
14 August: Squeaking out
7 August: A time for turning
31 July: You're okay
24 July: Happy tears
17 July: Let's aim higher
10 July: Gristle and good
3 July: The joy of not knowing
26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?
12 June: Longing for riches
5 June: When you least expect it
22 May: Finding home
15 May: Flying
8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues
1 May: Skuse the French
24 April: Lifting the curtain
17 April: Collective love
10 April: Cardiac arrest
3 April: Awe struck
27 March: You're invited to something special
20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss
13 March: It's all happening at the wayside
6 March: Love makes all the difference
27 February: What goes around
20 February: The joy of being empty handed
13 February: Loving the growth spurts
6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside
23 January: Some criminals have class
16 January: Wonderful surprises
9 January: Ready, set
19 December: Thanks for an awesome year
12 December: Mission and wishin'
5 December: The ups and downs and all is well
28 November: Kissed by the community
21 November: Our cup runneth over
14 November: A revelation from wayside
7 November: When excrement happens
31 October: I am therefore I think
24 October: We are surrounded by heroes
17 October: When you least suspect
26 September: A wayside wobbly
19 September: Knowing a gift
12 September: Advancing at the retreat
5 September: A little dose of good
29 August: Fighting with a feather
22 August: The boom is just beginning
15 August: True riches
8 August: Small is beautiful
1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views
25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside
18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage
27 June: Holy ground