Moments of bliss

Realizing the gifts that come on life’s journey

Every other week I meet with two friends at Nonies for a favorite one-on-one breakfast discussion. More accurately, one on two, and the two are psychotherapists.

Indicative of this conversation is me making a statement in which their follow up is, “What does it mean?” Not to imply they don’t challenge one another with the same question, they do. Then I can be caught in a crossfire. I sit back and wait for an opening, which inevitably I find.

Some time ago, they recommended I read Jung’s “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.” I started it, but for whatever reason put it down. This week, without reason, I picked it up again. Very Jungian, what does it mean?

For me, it meant reflection. C.G. Jung’s father was a country parson. C.G. Jung wrote of his father’s difficulties in marriage and that it “shattered his father’s faith.”

Later he says, “It appeared inconceivable to me that my father should not have had experiences of God….when he had to quarrel with somebody, he did it with family and himself….Why didn’t he do it with God?”

I liked that his father represented the divine. Not in mind, body or spirit necessarily, but as God’s steward of faith, and in the process, he struggled with his own. I find to be a steward of anything meaningful brings challenges to the steward.

After I posted Jung’s quote on, one of my readers exclaimed that he would not necessarily share God experiences with his children. I can’t say I have either.

At any rate, C.G.’s father, in not telling him of God experiences, didn’t seem so out of the ordinary to me or my reader, but by then I was left in a wake of my own making.

My dad was not a country pastor, but rather an investment banker. Or to use his words, a peddler. Normally humble, the oddest things could set him off. Reading Jung, I remembered a day with my father in which I confronted his actions over what I thought was unfair and unjust.

For no apparent reason except impatience, he confronted an Asian woman in a San Francisco Chinatown garage. He, my mother and I were on our way to dinner. As I remember, my dad thought the woman drove too slowly on the ramp.

He sprang out of the back seat of our car yelling at the woman. I, the driver, leapt out after him. I told him to stop yelling. To my surprise, he did. Might have been my imagination, but the woman looked impressed. My dad stood contrite. I shook with adrenaline and amazement.

This was the first time he and I were equally confrontational. I don’t believe there was ever cause to be so again. A woman who read my blog said, “On that day you became a man.”

It has become a day I will never forget, but a declarative statement such as hers had never crossed my conscious mind. Until she wrote to me, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the moment in the garage. I welcomed its bliss, but did not have a therapist challenging me to ask what does it mean.

Once realized, I titled the post, “A Gift.”

This week I asked a friend the difference between a calling and a bucket list. He said reverently, “Follow the bliss.” The words felt almost Star-Warish in nature, “May the force be with you.”

If I had a son, I would tell him these were God experiences. As I don’t, I tell you.

Bob Ritchie is pastor of Bennington Congregational Church and a regular contributor.

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