Now this brings me to what I am inclined to regard as the profoundly “within” or “foresightful” aspects of coping and which – such is my belief – can and often does greatly bolster and enhance overall capacity and confidence, via its thrilling and never-ceasing capacity for growth and self-revelation. And this – albeit by extraneous other routes – also brings us face-to-face with that same dimension and which many (among whom the writer would be numbered) would assert – is the central and spiritual dimension of “meaning in life”.
Hopefully, as you have read the contrents set out in these postings, you too might have had cause to reflect upon a notion and reality that was for me, although only ten years of age at the time, so wonderfully and reassuringly articulated by my sister Bertha one day only months before she died aged eighteen years. We were returning home from a picnic together and had occasion to pass the cemetery in which lay the remains of my eldest sister, Edna. I can’t remember what we talked about in any meaningful way; but I do very well recall one comment she made. “Sometimes” she said, “I think that we’re not so much a body with a spirit, as a spirit with a body”. Over the intervening years of my life to date, I have often reflected upon and at times been saddened by the thought that all too often, orthodox religions – with their seeming obsession for human prescription in the form of ceremony, ritual, creed and dogma – can be guilty of diluting, inhibiting, even distorting and (so it has often appeared to me) almost quenching the and upward moving spirit. Furthermore, I say that as one who before embarking upon clinical and research-orientated training and pursuits, chose to study for and thereafter be ordained into what I prefer to call, “the priesthood of all believers”, i.e. to the Christian ministry.
If over the years I have at times seemed to amount to something of “a square peg in a round hole”, then whilst I readily acknowledge the flaws and imperfections of the “peg”, it is equally true that the, at times, almost mournful and unimaginative state of “the hole” hardly fills me with unfettered delight and reassurance. Over the years, when patients (usually after several clinic sessions and as they have come to know me better) have said something like ‘I need to talk about personal thoughts and feelings…’etc., not infrequently adding, “but not to someone necessarily religious or anyone like that”, I have felt honoured indeed. (C) SB.