September 2014

A reflection on being un-reflected

It was in the 5th century BC that the Greek philosopher Socrates, widely seen as the father of western philosophy, made the famous statement that an un-reflected life (or an unexamined life, depending on translation) is not worth living. It is my reflection, that an un-reflected life is what most of us live, most of the time.

It is very easy to live our lives by getting up and going to work (or to school or to a U3A meeting or shopping or whatever) and be busy most of the day. Or at least, to fill our days with events, activity and diversions and then somehow, when we get to bed at 11pm and turn out the bedside light, not realise that our busyness has stopped us from actually experiencing the life that we have lived that day.

The problem is, I guess, that being aware of the circumstances in which we live our lives and our personal response to them, often becomes uncomfortable. It is frequently easier to make sure the TV or radio is on, or we are texting, Facebooking, tweeting. Or perhaps you are the kind of person who has a book, crossword or jigsaw always on the go. And any of the above activities is fine, but do you block out your days with them?

And even if we make time to pray, we often succumb to having a list of needy people and situations and spend our allotted time praying about great aunt Nora’s hip replacement, neighbour Edward’s cancer, and that relative who marriage is on the rocks, and whatever tragedy is on the news – the war, the drought, or the ‘act of God’.

Somewhere in that mix of busyness and daily business to sit down (or walk in the park) and clear our minds of the details and worries and actually be still is an art that is lost to most of us in this society.

I was leading a service not long back when, because of a baptism, there were quite a few visitors. In this Sunday morning service we had some time (actually not that long) of silence. In the cuppa afterwards a few of the regulars pointedly mentioned that they found the silence embarrassing with ‘outsiders’ there. A few of the visitors were fascinated with the idea of being silent together, but they found it really difficult. hmmm.

And the Psalmist says ‘may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’

It isn’t easy to be still. To meditate, reflect, contemplate and wonder. It is an art that is increasing hard to realise in our busy world. In fact, being still initially becomes very unsettling as the thoughts and emotions that we’ve pushed away suddenly rush to the surface. But if we stay there, over time we discover a true stillness, that allows us to reflect on our lives and our God who is in our lives. Isn’t that worth turning off the T.V?


September 2014