My sister is a flight attendant. She travels all over the world. She was recently in Ghana and took these pictures of her adventure climbing an abandoned lighthouse on the shore.
At first I thought it looked like fun. Then she showed me these photos of how eroded the spiraling staircase had become. She climbed it anyway.
These images stayed with me. The staircase began to remind me of our lives. That sometimes the going is smooth and we feel lighthearted and happy. Other times happiness erodes and we are left feeling angry and frustrated with people or situations. We must decide how to manage these opposing emotions everyday. Especially in family life, several people together can produce friction, fractious moments, erosion of self-control.
Then I read this quotation from Eric Ripert, acclaimed French chef and a Buddist. He said simply,
"Anger equals weakness."
While this statement feels very Zen, I began to link it with Christian teachings and scripture.
"People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness." Proverbs14:29
"And don't sin by letting anger control you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27
"Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool." Ecclesiastes 7:9
Nowhere does the Bible say never to feel anger, but rather to avoid giving in to anger. Weakness is letting anger take over, change your behavior, spill over and taint all those around you with bitterness.
Strength is in self-control. Wisdom is knowing that angry feelings will pass, that nothing will be accomplished by exploding in anger, that those we love will never respond the way we wish when provoked.
"Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs." Proverbs 19:11
As we embark on the Holiest Week of the year, let us all remember that we are called to be peaceful, gentle and loving, even under the most difficult circumstances.