Marvin Repinski: Taming the animal

Published 7:55 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

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“The desire to go home … is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.”  (Rebecca Solnit)

“He gives food to all his creatures; his love endures forever.  He remembers us when we were cast down…..”  (Psalm 136:23-25)

For every age, gender, nationality, talent, geographical location and more, it seems that there are answers provided, within books, videos, TV specials, etc. Possibilities offered to get your life in order!

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We, at times, say to someone, “Help me!” Are there degrading situations that are invisible? Do good times blind us? Are we all looking for a safe place? Most of us would call that safe place home. 

My observation, coming out of study, schooling, and over 60 years of counseling people, I find that most people are predictable. There is at the core of the heart the amazing mixture of, “I want to be good, but at times it seems I find it difficult to do good.”  

In the New Testament there is a phrase attributed to St. Paul about wanting to do the good but finding that doing right is nearly impossible. (Romans 7:14-20) And that’s St. Paul speaking! Is it the divided heart that finds lodging in we human beings?

In a formal manner, thinking in terms of current psychological studies, a book by a man I befriended while I was a student at Yale University reveals necessary insights. Henri Nouwen, an Episcopalian by his membership, authored “Spiritual Polarities:  A Life of Tension.” As an adjunct professor at Yale, he filled the lecture halls with his energized ideas. For example: “The contemplative life is a life with a vision, and the life of caring for others is a life revealing the vision to others.” 

My reference to the many ways we are offered self-help — the multitude of guides, promises and care that I mention — are very positive resources. For that, one can be appreciative. The tangle of emotions and needs, habits, and longings require life-long taming. 

Might it be that we need to pledge every day to be aware of our goals and the input that expands the skills that accomplish those goals? My observation is that when teetering on the edge, losing our grip is an invitation to seek our best health. It is not selfish to assemble first place for yourself. That’s not selfish; it’s to acknowledge that when I see myself as a person of worth, I project that worth onto the world around me. 

My friends who loyally commit themselves every day to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program are to be regarded as heroes. The language of a Higher Power that is employed is recognized as the silent partner to living well.

There are various paths to, in my terms, “taming the animal.” We are reminded that St. Paul referred to the alien “powers” that harassed his life as “beasts.”  I find that interesting! In his honesty, as the passage in the seventh chapter of Romans states, St. Paul is conscious of both his rage and his compassion. In writing to the persons in Galatia, he called them “stupid.”  

Memory when recalling what was pleasant in one’s life is a treat; a gift to our souls. We reinforce our best possibilities by living out of those events and persons that have given us sunshine. We sang it at one time in my life, “Count your blessings; name them one by one.” Yes I do, and I have to again consult scripture to reinforce my thinking.

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live.”  (The Bible, Deuteronomy, 4:9)