I thought I would sit down and write a little before the day gets ahead of me.
It has been a hard start: I could not get the words out for Morning Pray, found no peace during meditation, and was very distracted during the streamed Mass. I have had two days of being with people so maybe it is a “people hangover”?
I was hoping to sit down today with my friends Soren, Julian, and Thomas. (And of course, with my friend Jesus.) But at the moment my mind is racing and my heart is all over the place.
So I am fighting the urge to eat for comfort, or to simply watch TV for the rest of the day. Please pray for me today and especially tomorrow.
Yesterday, for the first time this week, I had a face-to-face meeting. The people are nice but I was glad when it was over.
Being alone – solitude – makes me very cranky when I am not. Yet another character flaw. Some yesterday lamented that “being alone” made them depressed. One even mentioned that being alone for an extended period of time made them try to take their own life. I feel for people who live in the darkness without a way out. Yet I wanted to say that being with people is what makes me depressed! I think I am somewhat of a people-pleaser and I feel pressure to act a certain way. I have learned not to act like I think I should but rather to be me.
The realisation is that, for me, the sacrifice is not being alone – solitude – but rather being with people. Maybe I am completely selfish?! I will make the sacrifice for Jesus but I will also value and protect my solitude for Jesus. The natural rhythm of prayer, meditation, and reading gives me a peace that is beyond understanding.
It has taken me over 50 years to come to that conclusion and I know that I have responsibilities. But being alone recharges me!
The formula that describes the state of the self when despair is completely rooted out is this: in relating itself to itself and in willing to be itself, the self rests transparently in the power that established it.
Sickness unto Death
I am having a bizarre week emotionally. It started with a bump and bounced around a lot. It is living on the threshold. I admit I have used some of my “emergency medication”. It all feels like Indiana Jones running from the bolder at the start of Raiders. I have an overwhelming sense of doom.
So I have been reading some Kierkegaard – my go-to author in times of trouble. The Sickness unto Death has not been a book I have read a lot. But I was struck, reading it, by the above paragraph. Especially the final phrase, “the self rests transparently in the power that established it”. The balancing act of life is about openly resting in God. I think a case could be made of the religious life being about this “transparency”.
I have so many things happening in my head that I often find it very hard to put them in order. So I was somewhat confused (and happily amazed) when I read this:
All coming into existence occurs in freedom, not by way of necessity.
A “new life” will not come without my choice made in freedom. No one is forcing me, circumstances do not set the agenda. And I think the moment has come for a choice. Without knowing the future and without allowing the past to slow me down. I know all of that but feeling it is a completely different thing.
BTW: the liturgical rites we have (baptism, communion, especially monastic vows) are a free choice for a new life.
I know I have not written much in the last week or so. Just have not had the energy to think much. I even find reading hard at the moment. So have been trying to do other things – more creative stuff. (I have been researching frumenty – medieval porridge. I really want to try it!)
I have returned to the approach that helped me through my last depressive episode – two goals a day. So today I have done my two goals so I can relax for the rest of the day. I am not really depressed, more stressed by life. I realise that I live in an extremely stressful context at the moment. But knowing and feeling are two completely different things for me.
So I am still here. I still have two meetings today but they will be ok – I hope!
It is Holy Monday and I should have something “holy” to say. But I do not! Whether it is the weather, the season, or simply MDD, I am struggling to function. The total of my engagement in life is sitting and looking out the window. Last year’s Holy Week was a disaster for me with a “resurrection” on Easter Sunday. I remember spending Palm Sunday sitting on the beach crying uncontrollably. Yet I had a deep insight during the sermon on Easter Day about my life. I am not expecting an insight. And the situation is very different this year.
I have been thinking about “change”. There are many talking heads on the TV (which I rarely watch) that proclaim our need for change on this or that issue and how our government needs to facilitate that change. Many groups in the church proclaim a need for change or things will be dire. But real change only happens when the “I” changes. I cannot expect others to change to make things better. Worst of all, I cannot expect others to change to make my life better. I must change! And live as a witness to that change. Jesus brings real change. He brings change to my life and I must live that change.
So there is my not-so-holy insight for today. I will return to looking out the window!
Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.
I could not sleep so I read The Cloud of Unknowing during the night. My mind wandered while I tried to go back to sleep and I thought about how “living in the now” and “experiencing God” are very similar.
I struggle with “living in the now”. I feel the pull of yesterday and I am extremely anxious about tomorrow. So much so that I struggle to stay in the moment for any length of time. I try!
I have always liked the quote above from T.S. Eliot. There is something paradoxical about all experiences. Like the current moment, it is absolute. There is nothing else! And when the moment has passed, the next is absolute when I am in it. Augustine speaks about time in Book 11 of The Confessions – only the present has any existence. And so only the present is absolute.
Anyway, strange night and strange day ahead. I cannot concentrate to read. All I can do it sit in the moment.
I have been reading The Handmaid’s Tale and watching the TV version. I am not sure if that is confusing me or making it a little easier.
This morning I thought of Immanuel Kant:
Kant’s formulation of humanity, the second section of the categorical imperative, states that as an end in itself, humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always as ends in themselves.
Part of the objectification of people is using them for their usefulness. We rank people according to how they may serve society and we reward those who are more useful and punish those who are not useful. The Handmaids are simply a more extreme example of how we trend people as a means rather than an end.
I feel my uselessness. No skills for the greater good, sickness dragging down and costing society, without purpose or end. I am very forgettable.
No answer or insight! Simply that people are much more than their usefulness.