Our Orphan Mentality

I discussed a dream with a Jungian analyst. She gave me a copy of The Guild of Pastoral Psychology Lecture No. 272. It is about how most of us in this world have an orphan mentality. The booklet has a posh title: 'Orphanos Exoikos: The Precarious Possibility of Wholeness'.

The booklet warns that a sudden fall into the orphaned, parentless state may have dangerous consequences. Jung thinks that loss of roots is one of the greatest psychic dangers. The orphan who has nothing has to learn at a deeper level how to receive, how to take things in. There is a paradox however: to be fully human I have to become an orphan. Only then can I integrate in a satisfying way into the community around me. I must face myself and my life and death from this place of aloneness. I must take responsibility for meeting my needs and relating to others. That is how to grow into full manhood and womanhood. That is how compassion grows.

With amazing synchronicity I received Joel McKerrow's memorable poem about the New Year which contains these lines:

And so the New Year comes

and how she brings herself toward you,

outstretched and willing, beckoning, Give yourself to her.

She is trustworthy, as all new things are,

she is unspoilt, unstained, unbroken,

she has never once let you down,

she is waiting ....

When we realise we are orphans we have a choice. We can obsess about all that we wish we had been, or we can trust ourselves to the Givingness of Now, which the New Testament calls grace.

Posted at 10:07am on 22nd January 2016
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