Dyspeptic Dames

From time to time, and especially when I am feeling cold, discouraged, or just plain curmudgeonly, I allow myself a little grumble. Only a little grumble, you understand, and usually whispered into the ear of Bro Duncan. Grumbling changes nothing: it merely makes us and those close to us more wretched. (Bro Duncan, being a dog, allows nothing to interfere with his happiness unless one mentions baths or cuts off the supply of dog biscuits, so he is a safe audience for dyspeptic monologues.) Why do we all love to grumble? I used to think it had something to do with idealism and the quest for perfection; now I think it more likely that we simply love the sound of our own voices and believe it is somehow ‘unhealthy’ to restrain our negative thoughts and feelings. Benedict, as so often, seems to have been right: most grumbling is not justifiable and is corrosive of community. Advent isn’t usually seen as a time for giving up things, but I certainly intend to try harder to give up grumbling. Being nice to be near isn’t just a question of which soap one uses.

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4 thoughts on “Dyspeptic Dames”

  1. Much depends on whether you are grumbling about someone else – the beloved brethren who has been slurping his soup these past twenty years and driving you nuts – or about how you’re feeling physically, emotionally or psychologically. The former may be but a necessary release, and better the occasional moan than the final explosion.

    The latter though is much to be encouraged because it is so discouraged in monasteries. I am not suggesting we should become all American and emote all over the place, but the bottling up of troubles in order not to create a fuss or a scene – that way madness can lie.

    Also, as I have said before, keeping a lid on physical problems can be lethal. We lost three monks to various diseases that they never spoke about until too late. They kept it quiet, they didn’t grumble, and the consequences were terrible.

    Grumble away say I. Not carp, not moan, not belittle, not complain to the chef du jour that s/he served the fish cold; but if there’s a real grief to be shared then let the community support the person and their pain. Nothing could be more Christ-like.

  2. God bless Bro Duncan. I am quite sure he will be canonised one day.

    The Lord is always glad to hear from you, even to listen to your grumbles. The thing is, he’ll change your perspective on them.

  3. Thank you for your comments. Together with those on FB I find that everyone (almost) assumed I was feeling especially grumpy yesterday. In fact, I wasn’t, but I did receive a rather grumbly email from someone which made me think about my own conduct.

    Yes, if Bro Duncan isn’t in heaven, it won’t be proper heaven at all!

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