For today, I've found a short piece published in "The Pilot", the magazine which used to be produced for and by the Anglican Churches in Jersey. This comes from the Parish Notes from Trinity, by Tony Keogh, and was written in the 1981. I rather like it, and I think while it has something to say in a religious context, it also speaks to everyday life as well.
A Piece from the Pilot written by Tony Keogh (1981)
I remember when I was at college there was a student who would, at every lecture, manage, by some miracle, to take down every word that the lecturer uttered. We were all amazed that his ball-point pen did not melt. College legend had it that if the lecturer coughed, he would somehow manage to include it in his notes.
His biggest problem was at the end of term, prior to the examinations. It was a common sight to see him in his room, fretting and wading through mountains of indecipherable notes. By the time he had sorted them out, there was little time for revising. He had yet to learn the art of discrimination and renunciation.
George Bernard Shaw describes an experience of his that took "a mob of appetites and organised them into an army of purposes and principles". This process of organisation, essential to personal wholeness, always involves those two elements - discrimination and renunciation.
Amid the miscellany of life, the person who is to achieve integration must fix his eye upon, and commit himself to, those values and aims which he chooses as supremely worthwhile. He cannot put all values first; wholeness, ironically, begins with selection; "the seeker of his truest, strongest, deepest self", as William James said, "must review the list carefully and pick out the one on which to stake his salvation."
And along with this first act of discrimination goes the need for the act of renunciation. Wholeness not only involves inclusion but exclusion, and he who says "Yes" to any commitment must say "No" to its contradictions.
This dual process of discrimination and renunciation, however, is never self produced. It takes a positive faith to get it started. Some idea, cause, or person captures our confidence and devotion; we believe in some value and give ourselves to it; and in the act of faith we practice discrimination in its most profoundly satisfying form, and renunciation of our faith's opposites follows with the minimum of strain.
A constructive faith is thus the supreme organizer of life, and, lacking it, like Humpty Dumpty, we fall and break in pieces, and the wonder is whether all the King's again. horses and all the King's men can ever put us together
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