Someone Else

May 23, 2015 | Field Notes

In the soft twilight of the mornings now, as I wait for the North Shore Mountains to come into view, I hear the melody of songbirds mixing with the call of the crows. The sounds of the city have yet to crescendo and so nature’s hymn of the morning serves to welcome the day. As coffee brews my mind sorts through my dreams and I begin to orient myself to the tasks and the possible meanings of the day.

I have been reflecting lately about how much the world has changed in my short life. The end of the Cold War, the advent of the War on Terror; the dawn of the internet age, the shrinking of our global village; the advance of human rights, the widening economic disparity worldwide; the incredible advances in science, the collapsing of sustainable societies under the hegemony of unrestrained capitalism. These are just some of the megatrends roaming our global village, impacting upon us all in different ways.

On another level I have noticed the changes wrought by deconstructive post-modern philosophies, the resistance to unifying narratives, and the swirling of contests in many areas of life, from the political to the familial and the personal. A persistent theme throughout these changes has been the struggle between the ego and the self. Now, we all need a healthy ego in order to live in this world but a championing of the ego as the only mode of interacting leads to an impoverishment of human life. And so, the need to listen and learn from our true self, which is where our deepest identities lie, serves as a corrective to unhealthy egoism.

It is easier to see how this struggle between my ego and my self has played out in my life now that I am in the autumn of my days. My morning time, a time of prayer really, is now often filled with looking back upon the life I have lived so far. In my looking back I find myself looking for meaning and understanding as well as clues on how to live up to death. I have come to appreciate the value of letting go of my own agenda and accepting that I really am not in control of my life, not in any absolute sense. Someone else is involved. That someone has nudged me and guided me now for sixty years and I suspect shall continue if I but remain open. It is not always easy to be open for sometimes I am led to places that I’d rather not go as warned in the Gospel of John:

“Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch our your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18)

I find it somewhat comforting these days to be reminded that someone else is with me as I live amidst these changing times. Someone else is involved in the turning of the world’s attention to the care of the earth and the care of each other. The presence of this someone else makes it easier to share in the wonders of the morning and the tasks of the day. This presence, a blessing in itself, lingers throughout the day and that is a good thing.

1 Comment

  1. Susan Evans

    When I was chaplain at OWECC it became clear to me that there is a difference between self esteem and self worth. Some people had self esteem –i.e. they knew they were held in high regard by the community for good reason. And yet they had a low sense of self worth –i.e. they still seemed to have little sense of their own intrinsic value as human beings. Often such people seemed to be susceptible to addictions and more particularly “workaholism” and did not care for themselves. I also met a few (e.g. a blind man, a person with downs syndrome) who displayed great dignity but yet couldn’t see what their very presence contributed to the life of the community. Perhaps this parallels the difference that you write about between what the “ego” is about and being aware of one’s “true self” that you speak of. Of course there is a certain dynamic between them. I saw the lack of self worth to be a spiritual problem that could only be addressed by my trying to love them even as they made every effort to “prove” that I didn’t. I remember that one woman said, “Sue you are paid to love us! You have to.”

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