Cynicism – a personal reflection

Last week I shared the first of two poems with you.  As you can see, I’m starting to get a bit more personal on here!  I’m going to share another poem in a couple of days, but today I want to take another step into openness and share a journal entry.  I wrote this on 10th November 2010 during a Quiet Day at college.  Quiet Days are an opportunity to take some space, be in silence at college, and listen to God. At least, they’re billed that way.  To be frank, I’d been disappointed at the last one because it had been full of input and someone speaking at me all day, rather than space to be alone and listen.  As you’ll see from my journal, I was expecting the same this time round.  This is a fairly niche situation, but what struck me re-reading this a couple of years on is how these reflections on indifference, cynicism and the power of words speak right to me today as well.  Hopefully you’ll find something in it, even if it’s just a mild interest in the way my mind works….

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Quiet Day – 10th November 2010…

 

“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

These are the words of “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:20,14).

Manadeep this morning said we need to be hot or cold, not indifferent.  We need to be alert to hear you knocking, Lord Jesus, to open the door.

I don’t want to be indifferent Lord.  It is so easy to get caught up in cynicism and in busyness.  In fact, I feel like the former flows from the latter.  When I allow myself to become so busy that busyness defines me, sets my priorities, shapes my days; in that place I allow what I can do and get done become paramount.  This is essentially the same as putting me first.  Cynicism is essentially judgement stemming from the assumption that I know best, that others simply haven’t recognised what is so obvious to me, that if they did they’d agree with me.  Once my life is shaped as if it all depends on me and I am the most important, it is only a small step to begin judgng from my new found vantage point.  As I left the meditation, trying to decide whether to do the quiet day or carry on with my work like normal, a question came into my head – who am I to think I know best how I should be formed?

That’s what I’m assuming.  “The order of the day is foolish and allows no engagement with God”; “The timing of the day is bad as it comes just before a deadline”; “In fact, the whole weighting of the course is unhelpful as it focusses too heavily on academic awards so gives no time for formation or family”; “This focus omes from a misplaced desire to be a leading academic institution”.

See how far this cynical thinking can go once let loose without any challenge to my own competency to make such judgements?  And I’ve spoken these things out loud to fellow students – these haven’t been silent thoughts I’ve tried to repress or even quietly entertained, they have been judgements I’ve indulged and publicly proclaimed.  My lips designed for speaking the hope of the gospel have been employed to spread arrogance and judgement.  in fact, it has been in the telling that the judgement has grown.

Yet even the first judgement that seemed so self-evident can be seen to be empty and false.  For from having no time for silence we now have 2 solid hours and after the noon session will have another 2 at least, it’s just that we’ll eat in the middle if we’ve chosen to.  Suddenly it appears that the faculty may have thought this through after all – why on earth did I fail to trust?  Perhaps it could have been better explained by giving end times for sessions, and yes, last year was frustrating – but I still met you in it Lord.  All these provisos make no difference however, to the simple fact that with only slight provocation my heart spouted arrogance, self-dependence and judgement and I allowed it to overflow from my lipe – I hardly even blinked at it.

What keeps me indifferent? What keeps me from hearing you knock and letting you in? Fundamentally, it is being my own Lord; viewing my life as all about me.

I am not my own.

I am not alone.

I am waiting on you Lord.

This is my desire,

To go deeper into you.

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