I want to continue the idea of containment. I have a softer image .One which speaks of the willingness to allow the other freedom. One which assumes that the recipient wants to be held and is attuned to that holding. I was reflecting today how pleasant it is not to have left a hospital admission in an angry mood. I can look back at my Wycombe experience with a sense of appreciation. The unit- the staff- contained me. From here I could become content. The words have the same root which has links to the idea of a tenancy or a tenant. Someone who doesn’t own the property but who occupies it by mutual agreement. The mother doesn’t own the baby. Nor does the baby own the breast. They agree to a shared tenancy.
One of several strands that shaped my feelings about my hospital admissions was a disappointment at the tenancy conditions. I had read the contract in a particular way. It included words like care, nurture, interest, compassion. The other party seemed to have a different tenancy agreement. One that included records, busyness, form filling, box ticking. By the time we had met, it was too late. We both made assumptions about the agreement that would contain us for the near future.
This image is all about being silenced. About a very particular form of containment that is far from desirable from the viewpoint of the individual. It speaks to me of a fear of allowing the other to speak and be heard. It is the way of the bully in any situation where they might be challenged. Be that Brexit, sexual harassment, the outlawing of opposition parties in politics. Or the voice of the prisoner or the patient. Theologically and spiritually the idea is the same. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:17) The Creation story in Genesis has a similar idea. God doesn’t only create Light. He creates Darkness-with all its implications. He offers darkness a containment which allows it to live.