Seeing Through the Eyes of St Triduana of Scotland

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, that classic Simon & Garfunkel hit, starts with the bitter-sweet line “The problem is all inside your head”  Ouch!

Leaving, and having to leave, is an unescapable part of the human experience.  Every living thing needs pruned to grow.  We can’t usually do that ourselves.  In an emotional storm it is so hard to see. Banging head against the wall syndrome fuels futility and sometimes a fear-based return to the eye of the storm.

My mantra this week was “I will huff and I will puff” but the walls of my resentment were strong.  I had vacated a situation and though I knew I had done the right thing, my head was whirling like a formula one race track.  I knew, from experience, you can only successfully move on if you know where you are moving to.  Otherwise you stagnate, go back, deflate.

Sometimes willpower is an enemy.  It gives you the illusion of control.  That’s why many problem drinkers thump the bar in disbelief that they are back there.  Had they not licked it once and for all?  Willpower has its uses but it’s only part one, or half-time if you like.  The results are far from in.

As my head went over and over and over the same ground, I took a walk in the fresh air.  I was working in a quaint historic old village within Edinburgh city, called Restalrig, this week.  Today, the parish church there has been rebuilt but contains within it’s grounds the 15th-century St Triduana’s Aisle.

They say Saint Triduana was a very beautiful woman born in Greece.  Once in Scotland she was pursued by many admirers and the most stubborn was Nectan, King of the Picts.  She was not interested in him but he would not hear  of it.  So she tore out her own eyes and gave them to him.   That kinda makes Simon and Garfunkel’s song quite tame in comparison.  Sometimes leaving a situation, addiction or people requires  beyond human effort.

Ironically, as is the abundant fruit of a life well lived, Saint Triduana became associated with curing eye disorders.  Her remains lie in Restalrig today and people over the centuries go there to pray for cures to blindness.

For Saint Triduana, doing this was an acceptance of her passion.  She would have greatly suffered from her choice to rip out her own eyes.  Yet, this choice let her be left alone to follow Jesus.  Freed from the snares of King Nectan and the darkness he pursued her with.

Leaving anything has a price.  As my week went on working in Restalrig, I started to think about sight – what was I not seeing in the situation that I had left, and in which, I could not be at peace with?

This week, for the first time, I saw the role of my own anger.  I can walk away from things that draw me to the wrong path –  the ‘King Nectan’s’ in my life.  When it is not accompanied by a beyond human effort though, the roots are not uprooted.  After an initial relief at leaving, it’s easy to stay stuck and then, dangerously, go backwards.  Last week, I was stuck in the foliage and fruits of the broken tree and the roots were still there holding me.  Through anger – my anger.

I’m grateful to Saint Triduana’s story as it has shown me that it is a part of yourself that you need to leave behind.  The beyond human effort is Jesus lessening your load, as it says in John 15.1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener”  Then, and only then, can you truly leave that which would otherwise bind you.  Now with the door quietly, peacefully but firmly closed.

RMEMME © 2017


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