“Blameless people are always the most exasperating.”– Mary Ann Evans [pen name, George Eliot], Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life, 1871.
Blamelessness and exasperation have characterized both sides of a recent conversation on Views from the Edge. Not blamelessness exactly, but certainty, positions that seem to each party to be apparent and true beyond a doubt. Each of us has become exasperated with the other.
Jesus’ word to the harsh critic of others – “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”- is forgotten or ignored. Claims to righteousness and suspicion of the other replace self-criticism and magnanimity.
We live increasingly trapped in separate bubbles of survival in the war of ideas, convictions, platforms, moralities, religions, and ideologies in the search for security.
Instead of bubbles, Dennis Aubrey’s A Patron for Prisoners uses the metaphor of prison, quoting a sage from the 5th Century C.E., Saint Léonard of Noblat, the patron saint of prisoners, whose “Song” (based on Psalm 107) describes a hope for liberation from the prison cell whose doors we have locked from the inside.
“A Patron for Prisoners” opens with The Song of Saint Léonard of Noblat (5th Century):
He has liberated those sitting in darkness and shadow of death and chained in beggary and irons,
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses,
He brought them out of the path of iniquity,
For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder,
He hath liberated those in bindings and many nobles in iron manacles.
– Song of Saint Léonard, quoted by Aymeri Picaud, translated by Richard Hogarth
Saint Léonard’s Song ends with the release of the nobles, the only class of people named among the liberated throng. It is no mistake that he includes them among those to be blessed by release from iron manacles. We are all bound in the prison cells of logs and specks, blameless and exasperated, fearful of our survival on the other side of the release.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 19, 2015.