Recently as I sat in the chapel with my staff I was aware that we all were suffering in our own ways. We could have been very typical and passed over our burdens with an, ‘I’m alright Jack’ approach. Instead we chose to share what was going on in our lives behind the professional veneer. In sharing we all became conscious of each other’s circumstances and were able to offer genuine support.
The New Year is a difficult time for many people. There is undoubtedly a sense of post Christmas climb down and building anxiety about the year ahead. This is commonly matched by the impact of poor weather, low light and the financial repercussions of Christmas spending. I think one of the issues that make’s these all so toxic is the sense that we feel we should be rested and revitalized. Post Christmas guilt is the feeling that we should feel better than we do. Of course guilt leads to isolation and isolation only exacerbates the low feelings that are already live within us.
Veneer is such a terrible enemy, yet it seems the world is consumed by it. Each person builds and image that hides their internal world and then they live for its maintenance. It seems sad game that we might waste our whole lives trying to keep our true-selves as far form sight as possible. Inner pain, emotion, tears and vulnerability have somehow become the embarrassment of our being, instead we idolise the pneumatic, synthetic, fame laden veneer of those who regularly tell us that they are desperately sad, sometimes suicidal.
I am reminded of how hiding demarks our fallen state. It was the first response of Adam and Eve following their disobedience in Genesis 3. Rather than face the pain of their mistakes and seek restitution they run and clothe themselves with leaves. Leaves have become clothes, and clothes have become position and position has become wealth and wealth has become power and suddenly hiding is virtuous and exposure is shameful. We hide from each other, from God and perhaps most of all from ourselves.
Mindfulness is a place of self-recognition. A place where we can give up running and hiding, where we can allow our emotions, pain or joy to be present. It has often been our hope that God would simply take pain away, but perhaps it takes more faith to invite God into the pain, to allow him to rest in the boat on the lake in the storm. It is the presence of Jesus in the face of the storm that should be our comfort, not necessary its stilling. Whist this might seem an inadequate place to remain for many, it is a perfect place to begin for us all. Every end must have a beginning and being mindful of our true condition is the place where we can humbly recognise our need for God’s saving mercy.
I am reminded of the great wisdom in The Serenity Prayer" (Elisabeth Sifton)
"God, Give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, Courage
to change the things which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."
Every Blessing in your mindful place.