On Being Tired of Contention

The title I’ve given this post means that very few will read it, even of my most devoted readers. It is, in a sense, the antithesis of blogging and social media, which thrive on diversity of views, to state that one has had enough of disagreements and disputes. But that is the point. I did not say that I had had enough of argument. Indeed, my choice of the word contention was deliberate: I am tired of the endless strife which does no more than repeat opinions and insults and does nothing to advance understanding or provide opportunities to reflect and weigh the worth of what is being said. Anyone who has tried to follow what has been happening in Parliament in recent weeks will probably have wondered what can be believed and what cannot. The one thing that seems to be clear is β€” that there is no clarity, about Brexit or anything else.

For a Benedictine, schooled in the art of the chapter discussion and what management theorists often dub ‘conflict resolution’, there is always the possibility of invoking silence, of pausing, of deliberately not speaking in order to allow someone else β€” hopefully, the Holy Spirit β€” to do the talking. I don’t think that would cut much ice with Parliamentarians or many other people; but if, like me, you are wondering where all the anger and the wordiness are taking us, perhaps there is a case for spending a few moments today just sitting before the Lord, like a dumb ox, letting him direct the conversation.

In a few days we, as a community, will be making our annual eight-day retreat. It will be a time of silence, prayer and reflection. The fruits of it may not be felt or seen for a long time to come, but I do believe it is valuable. Entering into the silence of God, stripping ourselves of the words with which we try to defend ourselves and frequently wound others, is to become a new creation, to admit our own weakness and sinfulness and, at the same time, our desire to change. It is to welcome grace into our lives; and surely, we all stand in need of that.


16 thoughts on “On Being Tired of Contention”

  1. Let the Inward Light do the talking once it a while is applicable in so many situations, and yet used seldom. I hope thy holy silence is fulfilling and joyful.

  2. Dear Sister Catherine

    Thank you for this blog. Your first paragraph, expresses ( from 5 th sentence onwards) what I have not been able to articulate and gives a way forward. I hope many parliamentarians read this.

  3. Thank you and as usual eloquent and on point. I wonder what has been learned over the last few centuries about agreeing a way forward. The binary nature of debate is lauded over deliberation and discernment to reach the best solution.

  4. Yes, silence is indeed golden!
    Thank you for your reflection today and may we all follow your advice to endeavour to create a silent space where the Holy Spirit may enter in.

  5. Silence can be golden and fruitful indeed! It should not,however, be forced upon people for the wrong , selfish reasons of getting your own selfish ways and hushing up the truth. May the Holy Spirit enlighten all the parliamentarians and the Government.

  6. Amen. Thank you for sharing your reflection and I hope to embrace and spend some time in silence this week with the Lord. May He guide us all with the help of the Holy Spirit. Will be praying for all of you too on retreat.

  7. Lucky you getting away from it all and, yes, I know that silent retreats can kick the ……stuffing out of you but what a luxury in our troubled times.

    I will hold you in my heart.

  8. We read ALL your posts. We don’t often comment but we discuss and think about what you’ve written.

    This morning in Canada the prime minister has dropped the writ and so begins 40 days of campaigning until election day. It will be non stop blather and bashing and like yourselves in the UK we will be left wondering what can be believed and what should be paid attention to.

    May God help us all.

  9. Definitely agree. The news recently seems to be more about airing opinions than any form of conflict resolution or listening to others. I have just spent 7 days walking the Spiritual variant of the Camino Way. I spent much of it praying for a two specific requests. I interestingly, one was for a brother in law dealing with terminal cancer and the other was for the successful delivery and operation on the newly born baby. So praying for the beginning and end of life. However I tried really hard to use the walk to meet the Lord asking the way and to listen that I am actually praying for right outcomes.

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