The journey to the self is a direction of focus we’re not used to and we are terrified of what we might find there. Since we don’t usually look this way, we are not certain of the terrain and this presents a source of inner tension. On the one hand, we understand this is fundamentally who we are so we should be very familiar with the territory. On the other hand, we have to admit that we really don’t know the ground and therefore aren’t as familiar with who is what we are as we thought. Examining our ideas and beliefs, understanding why we hold these beliefs and ideas can reveal elements of our personality that aren’t as pretty as we’d like them to be. Discovering these monsters within is much like finding a sleeping dragon in a cave, unaware it was there and found ourselves confronted with a fire-breathing, claw-wielding giant that must be subdued or defeated before we can move on. This unfamiliar darkness and possibility of danger are why Fr. Lawton says this type of journey within the self “seems like the riskiest of all journeys”, but it is the only way we might truly understand ourselves and therefore find our way to salvation.
As I move forward in my education, I am sure I will encounter many situations in which I will need to confront my inner self. I will be tested with moral and ethical challenges and, being a fallible human, I won’t always make the correct choice at the time. Challenging the comfortable beliefs I was brought up with will be frightening, and taking responsibility for my own ideas will be even more frightening. There may even be many times when I’m not even aware that I am testing my inner beliefs, but the consequences or later reflection will reveal my choices to me and force me to face elements of my character that are not what I envisioned myself to be.