Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something I've been thinking about

In one of the responsive readings on Sunday, there was a passage included - I don't know if the minister wrote it, or it came from some published source, or whatever, but it said something like,

"You provided us with an Eden, and we chose to wander in a desert of our own making."

That struck me, and kept me thinking about it. Because I believe it does pretty well sum up one human weakness (one I know I have sometimes) - the inability to see the good, to see the 'garden,' but instead to see the desert, and to complain about it. To walk through it, wailing about "why me, what did I do to deserve this?"

I can't remember where I read it, but I remember reading some allegory or other about people who talked about how horrible the place they were in was - how it was burning hot, with relentless sun, and no water to be found. And the "sojourners" who were observing these blighted souls could not understand - it was a pleasant spring day, to their observation. (Come to think of it - I may have read something like that in Lewis' "The Great Divorce").

As I said, one of the things I'm consciously trying to do is avoid the whole spiral of complaints: yes, the budgets suck right now. Yes, there are lots of problems in higher ed right now. There's not a lot that one prof can do about much of it.

(And another thing I keep thinking of these days, the good old Serenity prayer - having the serenity to accept the things I can do nothing about, the courage to try to fix the things I can, and to be discerning enough to separate the two).

I'm happier and more content, and I don't find myself falling prey as much to the "siege mentality" that some people seem to have. Because that's just not FUN.

And anyway, things could be worse. As thin a consolation as that is, they could.

I've said before that gratitude - for whatever it is - tends to drive out an entitlement mentality. When you are grateful for something, it's almost as if it's the opposite of "expecting" it or feeling you "deserve" it. And I think it makes room for the thought of, "It could be other than it is. And I am glad that it is not."

I think also gratitude tends to make you see the "Eden" more than the "desert." Oh, maybe some days you are wandering in the desert - you get off the path. Or you live in a world that's inbetween - some desert and some Eden. But you can at least, by stopping and looking at things, and being able to muster up a "this is good" (no matter how small or weak it may be), it keeps you from being all the way in the desert.

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