I have been thinking about a comment made by a friend about my blogs. “You know,Terry, all your blogs are really an extended reflection on spirituality.” I think I blushed slightly at this-feeling “found out”, perhaps. (Although quite what was being “found out” might be a piece of writing in its own right.) But her comment was accurate. My blogs are about spirituality in the sense of how one gives meaning to one’s life .Looking up Spirit in an Etymological dictionary gave the usual thoughts . It comes from the Latin, Spiritus, soul, courage,vigour, breath. But reading on there is a suggestion that it has links with Old Slavic and Sanskrit words meaning to play a pipe or a flute. (Chambers Dictionary of Etymology 1998) I love this idea. It carries with it a sense of Joyeuse or Joyfulness. (The word Joyous coming from the name of Charlemagne’s sword- Joyeuse- which changed colour thirty times a day. A much richer sense than the weak “Happiness“. I know the feeling of a mood that changes thirty times a day!) So, yes,my blogs are unashamedly about Joyeuse.
So, what has this to do with the title “More Stepping Stones”? The link is that of connectedness – for which I have used images of stepping stones or the links of a chain. I am told that in maths, beyond a certain level, getting the wrong answer is not always a fail. If the majority of one’s working out is correct, then it is possible to see where a mistake occurred. And marks are given accordingly. Which constitutes another way of describing therapy. My patients often come to me with “wrong” answers. They are depressed. Their marriage is in crisis. They feel angry all the time. Much of my work is to sit with them and go back over their working out to see where things began to go wrong. This process is experienced in as many different ways as there are patients. Some come and welcome the chance to have someone with whom to share their thinking. And will come the next week with a problem that had defeated them previously and show me their revised working out. Others come to me and want to report that they have done their homework. Full stop. And want to spend fifty minutes talking about how badly bound was their maths book. And what possible purpose will be achieved by going through their working with me? To return to my stepping stones some of my patients are happy to have someone standing with them as they cross. For others the moment a stone has been crossed, it no longer exists. They come to tell me that they have achieved that task and proceed to the next one. My task is simply to testify that they have now crossed five stones. The how, why, where and when of those crossings is no longer important. (Except when I remind them how hard they found the crossing. Or of the casualties sustained so far and the risks that might be coming up.)
Soren Kierkegaard wrote “The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss- an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife etc- is sure to be noticed.” (The Sickness Unto Death 1849) I read, many years ago, a book called The Golden Thread- or something similar. It was a church history which chronicled the survival of the “true” faith throughout history. I think it found the true church to be residing in many small, obscure corners. Which is quite a good analogy for finding and keeping one’s true self. It resides in many small corners of our own histories. And forms a thread-or chain or stepping stone- to move us on to the next step. And for me that link is what I name as Spirituality. Or Meaning making.
As Rabelais observed “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”