Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

At the End of Solitude

In one week, two similar articles crossed my path.  Why we avoid self-reflection, even though it’s good for us at Art of Simple and Busyness is a Sickness at Huffington Post were written for adults, but they are both informative for older children.

Silence.  It’s been suggested in places both religious and secular that people fear silence.  We don’t want to be left alone with our thoughts and we look to our hand-held devices to rescue us from a single moment of downtime.  We say stupid things in conversation with others, so as to avoid any awkward pauses.  There’s music in the background of every public place we visit.

In the self-reflection article, Author Ed Cyzewski writes about medicating through distraction.  “It’s easier to watch other people reflect on themselves: Sign me up for an afternoon watching other people bare their souls on Facebook. It’s far more difficult to turn my gaze inward.”  Personally, I enjoy reading uplifting stories others share and sometimes to excess.  There are times where I will realize that I have sacrificed my personal prayer time because I’ve been reading what others have shared.  Avoidance of my own issues?  Yes, I can see that.

In article about busyness, Author Scott Dannemiller illustrates the fear of self-reflection as shown in an experiment where participants chose “to self-administer an electric shock rather than sit alone with their thoughts.” That is desperation, indeed! 

Dannemiller’s remedy is to stop considering busyness as a status symbol, but to embrace the daily grind that makes up life.  Mr. Cyzewski suggests tips for cultivating self-relfection (with a link to a site on Ignatian Spirituality) because self-knowledge is the key to coping with life’s stresses. 

To all that, I would add that stripping away the noise is the only way to recognizing the constant presence of God.  It is good to savour life in its fullness.  It is good to engage in introspection in order to heal from past hurts, or to cultivate a more virtuous life.  But let us not overlook the role grace plays in these actions.  We strip away the noise, we learn to sit in silence . . . in order to find God.  God is the end of our self-reflection.  I think St. John of the Cross might back me up:
What more do you want, O soul!  And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction, fullness, and kingdom – your Beloved whom you desire and seek!  Be joyful and gladdened in your interior recollection with him, for you have him so close to you.  Desire him there, adore him there. (Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 1, Section 8 of the ICS edition.)


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