“Have peace in yourself, and thousand will find salvation around you.” St. Seraphim of Sarov
These are beautiful, radical words with which Smith leaves us to meditate today.
It is ironic that they were spoken by a monk of whom Wikipedia writes, ‘As extraordinarily harsh as Seraphim often was to himself, he was kind and gentle toward others.’
It’s ironic because Smith begins with a searing quote from Carl Jung about the hypocrisy of tending with compassion to those ‘out there’ while we say, “Raca (you fool)” to the faults within ourselves.
Jung’s quote and the paradox of St. Seraphim’s life makes me think of a Lenten reflection by Cole Arthur Riley. She shares that as a little child she answered a class assignment about what she’d ask for if she had one wish with the answer, “World Peace.”
As you hear that, what do you think? Probably, something like: Awww, she was such an altruistic child.
But Riley points out that she did not ask for courage, safety, friendship, a strong voice… If you knew her story (partially told in the book This Here Flesh) you’d understand how poignant and scandalous this is. She is making the point that at an early age she had internalized exactly what Jung is pointing out – the Good News is for the whole world except me. In fact, we even delude ourselves into BELIEVING that we are alright. We have no need of this Good News. Well, any psychologist worth her salt knows how that lie oozes out the seams.
God warns through the prophet Jeremiah not to cry out “‘Peace, Peace.’ where there is no peace.”
On Thursday I did not write a reflection. I’ll be vulnerable in a way clergy are sometimes coached not to be – I was exhausted and sick. Every time I tried to push through, my body cried, “Stay down.” Then, trying to rouse myself, I read Riley’s blog.
My practice for that day was integrity, alignment – Allowing for my body (one of my banished inner selves) peace that would enable me to rise again and cry out more clearly to you:
The Rev. adwoa Wilson