By Amy Carr
Last week while having dinner with two friends, one said that she is an INFJ on the Myers-Brigg and she finds that it is true, what is said of this personality type: that she has trouble just sitting and being with her feelings. She has a regular spiritual practice that keeps her centered, but she can take her bearings so much from her mind that she doesn’t always know what to do with her emotions.
I mentioned how in lectio divina, we have been praying psalms of lament, which express every kind of human emotion. Praying these psalms can be a way of expressing anxious emotions, without denying them, or giving them sovereignty.
Our third friend (an Episcopalian) pulled up Psalm 137 when I asked her to find the psalm with the line about the ultimate revenge fantasy: dashing one’s enemies babies against the rocks. Benedict might seem to spiritualize this line when he says the “rock” is Christ, against whom we should hurl all our inner pulls away from walking with God. But it seems just the right gesture: express it fiercely, even enacting it against Christ with all one’s weight — knowing that as Rock and Redeemer, Christ is like a mother holding us with all that is amiss and a mess in us.
It is the season after Epiphany, when we focus often on scripture texts about Jesus’ baptism and his revelation as Son of God. The vulnerable infant so swiftly becomes the grown-up, anointed to be both seen and seeing one: seen by us for who he is in glory, and one who sees each of us deeply enough to bear with our own rocky passages from infancy to maturity.
Julian of Norwich’s evocations of Jesus as Mother are making a lot of sense to me tonight.
I suppose while some of us have a hard time understanding and experiencing fully our feelings, wanting to take our bearings first from our mind and perceptions and often knowing numbness as a result, others among us can feel their emotions in such rawness and immediacy that they find it hard to climb outside of those feelings, to a larger sense of perspective.
Do you think there are other kinds of mismatches within us, other than those between perceiving mind and feeling heart? The spirit can be strong in both, but not always at the same time.
Harriet Tubman seemed to have this all figured out. She would move across the land with slaves she was helping to free — starting and stopping at this or that precise location — only when she sensed the Spirit’s inner command. All her senses seemed to be attuned.
Blessed are those who can feel and think with equal might, and are afraid of neither themselves nor the world around them.