Sunday, 6 March 2011

Let Courage Reign

The Kings Speech won four Oscars at the end of February with an astonishing script. After all how do you write a script when one of the main actors stutters throughout the film? It is an inspiring story of one man's journey to unlock his inner potential. There are times of life for all of us when we need to learn something new, whether in our work, study or in our faith. We all want to change but sometimes all we encounter is our resistance. Prefering the same old patterns, life can become dry and listless. It takes a lot of trust and a patient teacher to coax out all that potential.

Colin Firth's teacher is an Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush and some of the most powerful scenes are in his pokey speech therapy room in London. Gradually, as Colin learns to break the patterns of the past, he undergoes a process of transformation to learn something new. He seems to have lived the whole of his life with unfulfilled potential and is on the edge of defeat. But gradually he overcomes this: First he rejects his teacher, not wanting to do what he knows he must do. Some time later, after listening to a recording of his voice he begins to realize change is possible and begins to overcome his own resistance to learning. As the vowels and consonants begin to fall into place, after many failures and set backs, he comes to reconcile himself to his teacher. And that is where their friendship really begins. All the while, his teacher is patiently trying to coax out from within him a new life and energy, unlocking an inner potential which is transformed into trust. Its then that the things he has learnt become part of a new pattern in his life.

Very often I can see that old pattern of resistance in my life too. One of my favourite past times is running and I can remember having to battle with myself to make it part of my life. I went from from hating my afternoon run, to finding any excuse to avoid it until finally I realized that I couldn't live without it. Its a kind of friendship with reality that helps us to change, and to understand that the battles we face are within ourselves. I was inspired to start running after reading a book by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami called What I talk about when I talk about running. Its a kind of memoir of his passion for running marathons. He writes that everything he learnt about writing novels he learned from running. Here's a quote:

Somerset Maugham once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy. I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.

By overcoming our resistance to what we don't want to do or seems to be trivial, we can release the energy within us and enter into a new pattern of life. I would love to live as this quote describes, as though all my actions were acts of contemplation. That would mean to leave behind old ways of seeing things and the habits of the past. It would mean overcoming my resistance to the tasks of life I am called to. In that freedom, all my potential would be realized and nothing would hold me back.

With all my stuttering attempts to live a truly spiritual life, the image of a gentle teacher, breaking down my resistance and coaxing out my potential is one of the best images I have for God. What he wants is for me is to live without resistance so that I can do his will.

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