Monday, September 25, 2006

The Screaming Room

Inez lent me a book by Catherine Whitmire called Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity. There's a section called "Unexpected Songs for Times of" with sections for Fear, Suffering, Despair, Death, Grief, and Hope. After this morning's news, I opened to the section about grief, and found this 1977 quotation from Carol R. Murphy:
The Hassidic Jews have a custom of going out into an open field at night to cry out all their questions and doubts to God, to go down to their basic level of faith. Possibly Jesus was doing this at Gethsemane. Today we may well take the advice of the mother of a dying child who suggested that every hospital should have not only a chapel but a screaming-room. Perhaps this should be the anteroom to the chapel, as in our hearts we have to go through the earthquake and the whirlwind before we are able to hear the still, small voice.
Much of my work at the hospital involves giving people permission to be angry. I think we definitely need a screaming-room.

On a much lighter note, my visit to Inez' class this morning was delightful, and I'm really looking forward to my reading and talk this afternoon. After the class, we had a fine lunch at the campus cafeteria -- which serves much better food than Inez and I are used to from institutional food services, although evidently the students complain -- and then came back to Inez' house so she could take a nap and then walk Ricky.

One of the cats had knocked down my bottle of antidepressants and scattered them on the living room floor. Luckily, I retrieved them all, although I've now put them in a small jar with a top that fastens much more securely.

But the cat had also knocked down my toothbrush, and Ricky must have had his way with it, because it's gnawed and bent: toothbrush by Dali!

So a new toothbrush will definitely be one of my Iowa souvenirs!


  1. Hmmmmm . . .

    Just to provide a little context . . .

    If Jesus was practicing a Jewish custom at Gethsemane, then it's one that (a) I've never heard of (but then, there are plenty of those) and (b) is a lot older than Hasidism, which didn't show up until well after the Middle Ages (I'm thinking seventeenth century, but don't quote me). Hasids are old-fashioned, but not THAT old-fashioned.

    Doesn't mean a screaming room wouldn't be a good idea, though. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable going to a designated area to get angry, but that's just me.

    On the other hand, to help my son learn to calm down when he's angry, I'm teaching him to walk into another room, take a drink of water, and take two deep breaths. I'm amazed how well it works. Now if only *I* could remember to do that when I get angry!

  2. Hi, Claire! Thanks for the historical context. Like you, I still think the room's a good idea, though.

    And good for you for teaching Nate good anger-management skills! When I got angry when I was little, my parents just laughed at me, which only made me angrier. (This was the original "You're so cute when you're angry!")


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