Musings on the Hermit

The RWS HermitMany months shy of my 50th birthday, I am already in danger of becoming a crotchety old lady.  It is not that I’m feeling negative – far from it.  It’s that I am beginning to feel entitled to tell people when I think they are being rude.

To the person who tries the doorknob of the public restroom I am occupying I say, “Try knocking!”  To the person on a bicycle who tries to run me off the sidewalk I say “Ride on the road, it’s the law.”

I’m starting to wonder if by pointing out the rudeness in other people, I am being equally rude.

Perhaps I’m just not as patient as I used to be.  Isn’t that a sign of getting older?

My friend Judy, who is eighty years young, often prays, “Lord, put your hand over my mouth.”

It’s interesting that the tarot card I often associate with patience is Major Arcana 9, The Hermit, who is the wise old man.

I guess patience is not an inherent gift of age, but one we need to cultivate.

On the other hand, isn’t it good to speak out in order to right wrongs?  Isn’t there courage in making your voice heard?

I am torn between two of my favorite wise quotes, one from Martin Neimoller, and the other from Saint Francis of Assisi, who in modern times is often associated with the tarot Hermit card.

Martin Neimoller’s famous speech became a poem that warns us to use our voices and speak out against injustice.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

 I have to ask myself – is enduring a rude interruption whilst in the ladies room really a social injustice against which I need to speak?

 Saint Francis, on the other hand, wanted to be an instrument of peace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.

 So I ask myself, WWHD – What would the Hermit do?

The Hermit would speak out in defense of others, and forgive those who have offended him.

The Hermit card has another key word – one that is much less appealing.  That word is Loneliness.

It may be true that if, as we grow older, we do not learn the wisdom of the Hermit, we will certainly endure his loneliness.