Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: I think I’m going mad!
Have you ever been in a group, and yet not ‘felt’ part of that group. Oh, you are part of the group physically, yes, but at one point in time, it’s like a piece of you has been dragged to one side so that you can ‘see’ the group from a distance. It’s as though you were a third-party observer. And, furthermore, you witness that something wasn’t quite right, but everyone else in the group seemed to take it in their stride. Is that a sign of madness?
In a group, but not of it?
As I write this journal, three such incidences come to mind.
Sometime ago I was in a ‘pub’ – yes, I do like to frequent them occasionally. It was a public house not far from my city place, and one of those nice ones where you can buy beer and food, soft-drinks and even coffee; and this one has a sofa and an open-fire, and even a bookshelf or two! And, we all got talking about spiritual matters. We had all been to an evening service across the road, so the group was predominantly Christian, and we were all talking about the ‘Good News’, that is, the Gospel, the benefits of the work and person of the Christ.
Suddenly, the person to my left emitted a long, mournful wail, made wild and uncoordinated gesticulations, and bursts into tears. Someone in their family had died and they were unsure as to whether they had made it to heaven or ‘the other place’. This caused them severe anxiety, so much so that they had been ‘bottling up’, and this led to their tearful state. I have to admit to finding this situation altogether rather odd – but then I’m a universalist and don’t suffer from such anxiety, as I believe we all get there. Such is the radical grace of God, and the awesome work and person of the Christ, and His universal benefits.
But, I did ask the group some moments later, when that person has settled and composed themselves, the question: Don’t you find it odd that the GoodNews led this person to be unhappy and tearful. Either the work and person of The Christ is not goodnews, and I really do believe it is GoodNews! Or, some have misinterpreted the GoodNews so that it is no longer good-news to many people. And for me, sadly, the latter is closer to the current situation. However, the group could not ‘see’ this, settled for the first option, and promptly branded me a heretic.
In a group, but not of it! Am I to assume only the majority viewpoint counts?
Sometime ago, I was sitting between a Judge and a Barrister at a formal ‘sit-down’ Christmas party for a local charity. They were talking about how well their offspring were doing. One child was at Cambridge University studying political science, another one was taking a gap year to Kuala Lumpur (or was it Clacton?), and another was doing their Phd! I was really interested. I really was. This was important to two proud parents, and people are people after all! I listened intently. I patiently waited until there was a break in the conversation, and they were still facing each other (with me in the middle), so I took the opportunity to speak of some of the charitable work I had been doing in London. I mentioned one twenty-something ex-offender young man who couldn’t read or write but wanted a job, and spoke of how well he was doing at literacy classes. It took all of twenty seconds before they made it clear they weren’t interested in hearing more from me about him.
In a group, but not of it! Am I to assume that disadvantaged people, who are turning their lives around, don’t count?
Within the last few days, I found myself amongst close friends, and the conversation naturally turned to the impending ‘in or out’ EU vote to be held this summer in the UK. They talked about the pros and cons of EU membership, and some good points were discussed. It all came to an abrupt halt when one person said, ‘At the end of the day, we should leave the EU, because we have to look after our own!’ Everyone nodded. Everyone that is, except one person. Me!
I found it incredulous that that small group could say or agree to such a notion. One person there, was of Viking descent – I know that because he has Dupuytren’s contracture, which is a curvature of one or more fingers due to a tightening of tendons, and the genetic ‘disposition’ apparently arrived in the UK only with the Vikings), another was of French-descent judging by his surname, and another was married to a delightful German woman. Putting aside the spiritual, Christian or sociological desire to reach out to all those in need, it seemed odd that all were nodding, and hadn’t really thought about the paradoxical nature of what they were saying.
But, I looked at the group, as is from afar, and couldn’t bring myself to explain what I was feeling. How could they agree with the statement of looking after our own – by which they meant ‘the English or British’, when each was in some way ‘connected’ to mainland Europe?
In a group, but not of it!
Maybe I am going mad? That’s it.
Kahlil Gibran wrote: You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen – the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives.
I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, ‘Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.’
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, ‘He is a madman.’
I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, ‘Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.’
Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us…
In a group, but not of it!
Maybe I’m going mad? That’s it. But please, don’t make me sane! I’m very happy as I am!