Breaking through the shell of self-absorption


By Deacon Derick Cranston

There is probably no other symbol of freedom and carefree bliss than a bird soaring through the air across the canvas of a clear blue sky. “Do not be anxious, for look at the birds of the sky. They do not reap nor sow, yet your heavenly father looks after them,” Jesus tells us in Scripture. But until the egg hatches, you cannot ascend to the heavens and soar among the clouds. Until you break through the exterior of your surroundings, you will not truly experience the world around you.

Deacon Cranston
Deacon Cranston

Sometimes we try to escape the demands of the world and withdraw within ourselves. We think only of our own desires, wants and needs. This creates a barrier between us and the rest of the world that prevents us from experiencing life at its richest. Instead of breaking out of the egg, we sink deeper into an unhealthy self-absorption, and the shell becomes even harder to break. And we become anxious.
A lot of the anxiety we experience in modern-day life is caused by our tendency to live only for ourselves. We confuse freedom with the mistaken belief that we should be able to do what we want to do whenever we want to do it and however we want to do it, and it is usually something we are doing for ourselves. We become slaves to our own desires and wants. We forget that we are human beings and not human “doings.”

To be truly free, we need to break the shackles of selfishness that bind us to the ground. We must strive to break through the shell of self-absorption we have created around us. But how do we crack through the shell that encases us and prevents us from being free?


One of the most interesting things about the shell-cracking process is that if the mother doesn’t keep the shell warm enough, the shell will harden and the baby inside will suffocate. A divine incubation is needed to warm and soften our own metaphysical shells that trap us inside ourselves. This is achieved through opening our heart to the light and love of God which will make the shell soft enough to crack.

The initiative is ours to take. Our Creator endows us with free will and does not force us to love him. We must trust and give ourselves over to his providence and divine will. We must stop looking inwardly and trusting only in ourselves. We must let go of our ego and trust in the Lord. Only then can we break through the barrier that separates us from God. It is only then that we will be able to fly.

(Deacon Derick Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman.)

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