Monday, October 09, 2006

Anger by St. John Chrysostom

Anger is a strong fire, consuming all things in its path; it wastes thebody and corrupts the soul, and renders a man base and odious to look upon. And if it were possible for the angry man to see himself at the time of his anger, he would not need any other admonition, for there is nothing less pleasing than an angry countenance. Anger is an intoxicant and more wretched than a demon.

St. John Chrysostom

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Becoming Myself

”As life goes on it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day. This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you, but a great relief to the person concerned.” -Agatha Christie

I was struck when I read this quote by Agatha Christie. Its so true! I thought about how I have been decluttering my life and me this past year, and how the process has allowed me to be more authentic, more honest in my relationships, more able to focus on what is truly needful. Agatha is right, though - it *is* disconcerting to those around you. When you go through these kinds of changes, the pot gets stirred and the old ways of relating to others get redefined.

I've pruned away lots of dead wood and I'm hoping that lots of new growth will occur now, but as an Orthodox Christian, I understand Agatha's quote in terms of my belief as well. It does, indeed, become tiring to keep up the facade. Its like the plate spinner on the Ed Sullivan Show. when I was a kid. It was simply amazing, how many plates he could keep spinning on the end of a stick! And man, did he work - running back and forth, with not one second to take his eyes off the plates. By the end of his 5 minute spot, he was totally spent. That's how I've felt for a long time - too many plates to keep spinning, and no time for what is truly important and fruitful. Too many people in my life, all with their own agendas, sometimes working at cross purposes with each other and with me. No time to think. No time to figure out how I got from way over there to way over here. No time to organize and regroup. Its exhausting.

In some ways, now that I've begun decluttering, I am becoming more myself. More the me I understand myself to be. I love that. I hate it, too, mostly because the me that I know is so flawed. But shouldn't we all become more like Christ instead of ourselves? Isn't that the flaw in Agatha's reasoning? Of course this theosis would also be disconcerting, no question about that, because every time someone meets God and allows Him to shine some light into a corner of his soul, the rest looks even darker in comparison. I'm finding that the relief I feel is more about what *isn't* there any longer than about what *is* there. Surely that can't be "right"!

But I have to confess that putting down some of what I've been carrying is definitely a relief. It has freed up so much more than just time! My emotional life and my spiritual life have improved so much. I'm not as distracted during prayer as I was. I no longer second guess myself about everything, trying to figure out in advance how everything will "play". Not that I don't still do that to some extent - its good manners after all - but my major problems with that have disappeared. And I am GREATLY relieved. Last weekend, I had the energy and the time to spend with a dear friend who got some bad news about a tumor she has behind her eye. Had this happened just a few months ago, I would have been emotionally incapable of providing support to my friend, and I wouldn't have had the physical energy, either. Now, though, I was able to do what was needful last weekend and help my dear friend when she needed my help. Yay!

God is good!