Christianity doesn’t have all the answers but, in my view, it gets closer than most. Take Freud’s idea that we humans are subject to two powerful forces in the unconscious which wage a war within us.
One force, he said, is Eros, the longing for creativity and life; the other force is Thanatos, representing the terrible inevitability of death. It is an interesting but not necessarily a breathtakingly original insight.
Christianity has tried to hold those two forces together during its entire existence, long before Freud arrived on the scene. The evidence for this is found in the funeral service where the minister says: “We brought nothing into this world, and we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” It’s a raw statement about the finality of death.
On the other hand, at that same service, the minister also says: “I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord…” The deep and intertwined realities of death and life are proclaimed.
Of course, it is one thing to make such a powerful declaration; it is quite another to live authentically within its truths. Many of us find it easier to live as though Eros is the answer and ignore Thanatos. Isn’t this what TV shows such as Love Island are about? There are others who prefer the black despair of Thanatos and ignore the heady, joyous beauties of Eros.
Somehow, and this is surely where Freud is right, it is in trying to live courageously within the tempestuous realities of both which is the necessary and challenging part of being human.
So, how do we poor mortals find peace within that tension? Might it be when we allow ourselves time to reflect, to centre down, and make room for the promptings of the ‘still, small voice’?