When presented with a grumpy or sulky grandchild my Grandmother had a habit of saying “oh! Where’s “X” gone? I can only see Maisy and Maisy isn’t a very nice little girl! I do wish my dear ‘X’ would come back! I do so miss her!” As you can imagine, at the time it was THE MOST infuriating thing to hear and it really didn’t help Maisy go away but rather brought out her louder, crosser persona – like when the hulk turns green and tears at his clothes - the wobbly bottom lip and crossed arms would be flung away in favor of stamping feet and flailing arms accompanied by incoherent ululation a banshee would have described as “a bit much”. There’s nothing like being ignored to inflame and aggravate vitriol is there?
It is human nature to want to be listened to, to be special and important and have the attention of those around us. But some of us take that a bit too far and the inner child simply won’t listen to reason or mature. My own ego is in practically a newborn infant – it needs someone around making soothing noises all the time, gazing lovingly at it and hovering nearby ready to fulfill any need. It’s quite pathetic and I really thought that by my age I would have got over myself to some extent. Last week I was talking to a friend who told me he felt he couldn’t leave a party before midnight on New Year’s Eve. He’s 90 years old! I guess we are never free the pressure of social approval. That’s a terrifying thought. There’s so many things I planned to do if I reached the age of 90 and ALL of them are pretty unacceptable in polite society. One of those things was to get a ride on lawnmower and go around town on that rather than the more traditional scooter, another is to deliberately misunderstand people – when offered tea I will respond “thank you – a large vodka and tonic please – how kind of you”. I was also planning on finally completing a marathon – but in a wheelchair which someone else pushes – then wearing my medal and t-shirt all over the place and demanding respect for my amazing achievement. I think I may call myself Dr Pearson too – doctors get to ask questions no one else is allowed to ask – and are privy to the most private (and therefore interesting) details of people’s lives.
The Lenten study this year is called “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John”. It looks very good indeed. The first page focuses on “God is love” and the question for reflection is “The Gospel of John reveals that I am deeply and unconditionally loved by God, just as I am. How do I respond to this?”
I have to tell you – my response is this: although my heart and mind believe that, I can say it out loud and with conviction, somewhere deep inside me there’s a feeling of terror. A desire to shut down, run away, turn my back on it – do ANYTHING rather than just be still and accept it completely. It’s the same feeling you get when you hear a friend has died, when you receive the results of your failed exams or when you drop your only set of keys down a drain. And I can’t help feeling it comes from that screaming infant that is Self/Ego/Inner Child and that is clearly occupying the space in me where God should be enthroned. This seems strange – I’d never park my car in a spot marked for disabled, or sit in the reserved priority seat on a train or bus! And yet spiritually that’s exactly what I’m doing and not even sitting in the seats but keeping some old baggage in it for no real discernible reason.
It’s definitely time for Maisy to leave home.