The Mess You Discover Just May Be Your Own | Lent 42

April 3, 2012

Lent invites honest self-reflection.

Renowned 20th century psychoanalyst Carl Jung tells the story of a patient who came to him for therapy.  This patient was frustrated with his job, his work colleagues, and his relationships.  Jung said, “Go home this week and spend each night alone and quiet.  Come back and tell me what you experienced.”

A few weeks later, the client came back reporting that Jung’s method was unsuccessful.  “I’m no happier, Dr. Jung,” he said.

“Tell him about your evenings alone,” Jung replied.  The patient responded with a description of his evenings after work.  “I came home, fixed myself a cup of tea, and spent my evenings reading and listening to some Mozart.”

“You missed the point,” Jung said.  “I said you needed to be alone and quiet.  No Mozart.  No books.  Spend time with you.”

“Why would I want to spend time with me?” the patient retorted.

Jung replied, “Exactly.  And yet, that’s the very self you inflict on your colleagues and friends each day.”

Perhaps Jung had stumbled on to Thomas a’ Kempis, who wrote, ” “The inward Christian prefers the care of himself before all other cares.  And he that diligently attends unto himself can easily keep silence concerning others.  You will never be inwardly religious unless you pass over other men’s matters with silence, and look especially to yourself.  If you attend wholly unto God and yourself, you will be but little moved with whatsoever you see abroad.  Where are you when you are not with yourself?  And when you have run over all, what have you then profited if you have neglected yourself? If you desire peace of mind and true unity of purpose, you must still put all things behind you, and look only upon yourself.”

View Comments posted in Lent