Strange to think that in the US our friends have been struggling with sub-polar temperatures – my friend Julie in Minnesota able to let her little dogs out for only one minute as a precaution against damage to their paws in the fierce cold.
Yesterday in England, a morning so balmy I had no need to light the stove. I set my tea-kettle to boil on my own Heath Robinson cooker fuelled by bio-ethanol gel, the door and window open to air the house.
A morning of no wind, no rain. Fresh and clear. Only birdsong. I ate my breakfast sitting outside under the trees.
Already I can feel the Earth turning toward the light. I woke with the dawn around seven, and by twenty to eight had light enough to write. There’s long battery life in my Macbook, but I like writing with pen and paper because for me one of the joys of the day is noticing the waxing and waning of the light. I love every kind of living light, and the computer light competes with it.
Now Christmas with its flurry of church commitments, family visits – and funerals this year – is over, I can concentrate again. I want to begin the journey towards my pilgrimage through Lent without opinions exploring the territory and considering what that might mean. For those who may not have been following my posts, just to explain that this year I’ve decided to give up opinions for Lent.
One of you wrote to me saying that without expressing opinions I would be unable to worship God – and that intrigued me because I hadn’t before identified that much of our worship is indeed expressed as opinion: “You are mighty, You are glorious, You are King over all,” etc.
So, Lent Without Opinions would require a re-phrasing: “Your might and glory fill me with wonder, King of all the Earth.”
That’s a statement – reporting the state of affairs within my heart – not an opinion.
It helps to clarify what an opinion is, and understanding how an opinion differs from a fact (oddly, not everyone understands this).
Examples of facts versus opinions – (1 is a fact and 2 an opinion in each case):
- Elizabeth II is the Queen of England
- Elizabeth II is an excellent queen.
- Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus
- Jesus is Lord over all.
It seems likely that why people find it hard to tell the difference is because from the point of view of the person with the opinion it looks like a fact.
It’s possible to state one’s own truth, though, without expressing it as an opinion:
- I love my friend Emily (reporting of one’s own truth)
- Emily is a lovely girl (opinion)
I suspect that living without opinions will allow both me and others greater freedom – it occurs to me when I ponder on it that people could feel very hemmed in by my opinions; my view of reality replacing their own like the invasion of a conquering force!
My first draft of that last paragraph said: “Opinions hem other in, substituting a different view of reality from their own.” Then I realized – oh! That’s an opinion!
Replacing it to include “it occurs to me … that people could feel …” alters it from an opinion to a sharing of my thoughts and ideas.
So, in Lent (and I can see it might help me to begin learning now!) I will still be allowed to share facts and observations, to wonder about them and question what I see, and to share the truth of my inner world – but not to advance my point of view as though it were a fact.
D’you see what I mean?
I am hoping this will be a journey into a kinder and gentler way, both of communicating and seeing, than I have been used to.
My natural mode (my beautiful mama tells me I am very opinionated): “Tea made with spring water tastes different from tea made with tap water.” To change that from an opinion to an expression of personal truth, all I need do is add “to me” at the end or “I find that” at the beginning.
And your thoughts?