Mildness abates great errors. (Ecclesiastes 10:4)
the key to solving what is often viewed and experienced as a dilemma can be found in another polarity: objectivity/subjectivity. We are objective people, made up of flesh and bone, but sometimes we approach things not only with our bodies but with our subjectivity, that is, our intuition and our feelings. A symphony, for example, a very objective reality, is heard with as many different interpretations as there are people in the audience. Some people like everything spelled out in black and white, “No ambiguity for us, thank you.” Others like to examine the gray areas of life. If everything is as clear as day, where will we find excitement? However, do we not find within ourselves a good smattering of both realities? Is it not wise and healthy to be at ease with both? If nothing we do or say is grounded in reality, we may find we hurt many people, and our ideas may end up nowhere because we have nothing substantial to hang them on. On the other hand, if we are scrupulously concrete and practical and never let our imagination take us beyond the here and now, the seen and touched reality, would progress ever take place? Once I had this truth brought home to me in rather dramatic fashion. After re-visiting my original home territory several years later, I was struck by the ruggedness of the terrain, the beauty of the hills and the pine trees. When I was a child I was oblivious to this beauty because it was so routine to drive through this area. Now I know we need to listen to all reality without preconceived ideas. A little polarization in our lives is a healthy thing. As Nicolas of Cusa once said, “God is beyond the wall guarded by reason.” Who would want to miss God hidden in our daily encounters with all kinds of reality?
Jesus, give us great clarity of mind and heart!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|