To care and not to care
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
During Lent, we have a series of sermons on Lamentations, which is proving an interesting experience. As we reflected on chapter 1, we came to the recognition that one of the meanings of Lent, one of the calls of Lent, is to un-insulate ourselves, to allow the reality of the grief, struggle, despair and pain of the world touch us more deeply than we usually do.
There are good reasons, reasons of survival, that mean we don't usually let ourselves encounter the depth of distress too often; it would become overwhelming and we would be lost. As T S Eliot wrote in another poem "[humanity] cannot bear too much reality"
But here is the importance of learning to care and not to care; to be able to meet the world as it is, not as we fantasise that it is (or want to it to be), and to care about that matters, since that is what is drives us to work for change, and to challenge the wrong that we see.
But it is also necessary to have a capacity not to be overwhelmed - to know that we are not entirely responsible, nor indeed omnipotent. And that involves being able not to care in the right way; to be able to say" it" (whatever it is) ultimately doesn't matter enough to overwhelm me, destroy me or take away the promise of life.
And I believe the only way we can reach this is to sit still long enough to encounter God as God and not as the projection of our own minds and wills.
And then we begin to learn "to care and not to care".