Five Years Ago–March 19, 2004

What I wrote five years ago in my journal:

March 19, 2004

Morning — Promptly at six in the morning the jays came, chattering quietly. By 6:03 they were off to other tasks. They’ll be back. For the first time in a while clouds are on the horizon, peeking out over the hills and trees to the east. I don’t mind, they add texture to the sky. A bold cheery bird sang loud this morning, its song filling the time between times. The pitter patter of a squirrel running across my roof ends with his small head peeking out over the edge, looking down at my balcony for seed, or maybe for nearby coyotes. Apparently, he does not like the menu this morning, he withdraws, though I don’t hear him running elsewhere. Maybe he is meeting a friend, and is deciding to wait outside.

I feel sloppy this morning, in soul and spirit. The word I feel like saying: “blah!” It could be the running thing I mentioned last night, though I also think this morning that it is easy to place blame, and the physical responses sometimes drain us of the commotion incited by spiritual causes, but do nothing to address the source.

Acedia creeps, as I knew it would, even with this. It asks, “Why write? For myself, for others, for some eternal prize? What is the point? It’s all meaningless, shadows, wasting time.”

The jay is back, and chattering loudly now, calling to friends.

It continues, “What is the point of praying? It’s all going to naught, isn’t it? When has God come through before? He’s playing a game, leading you and will abandon you. In fact, he already has. You’re not getting paid for this, you’re not getting paid for anything. What a waste. If God wanted you on this path he would have blessed you, kept you safe from the worries which afflict. Humble yourself, get a mindless job, the other paths just aren’t for you. God hasn’t opened doors, because he doesn’t care.

“You’ve messed up too much to make anything of. I mean just look at yourself, look at how you spent yesterday, look at how much time has gone by with nothing to show for it. Sure you have friends, but they just pity you more than anything. Think of the ones who have little to say to you anymore. They’re right. You’re going to age and realize what a bum you are and everyone is going to feel real sad for you, but say it was your fault.

“You should have joined the army after college. You should have gone to law school. You’d be happy now. What a waste it all has been. And here you are sitting still, typing useless words which no one will read. Can’t even find acceptance in a church, can’t even convince a fellow Christian you are worth anything. Just quit. God isn’t worth it, not to you. If he loved you he would show you, not lead you to pits and swamps, letting you wallow alone. It’s all a joke, and you are the victim. They’re all right you know. You are deceived, and sad to see.”

So acedia speaks to my soul, my watchfulness having collapsed and let its voice in. There is no rest under its call, there is no peace. It speaks louder than God this morning, accusing and despising me.

To acedia I reply, “Screw you, I’m going kayaking.”

Evening — And so I did. A beautiful morning. Cirrus clouds framed in blue were painted on the calm lake. When I turned I saw the mountains rising low in the water, colorful, clear as reality. A ripple of wind made the image impressionist, scattered colors, mixing orange and reds, blues and greens together. The clouds were like wispy trees growing like roots, to the bottom.

Vultures followed me for a time.

Now, the question is whether this indeed was a solution to a spiritual issue. It was. For physical activity mixed with solitude and silence. While my arms and shoulders moved in steady rhythm, my lips and heart prayed for wisdom and peace. The outdoors, beneath the sky, breathing in natural air, listening to the variety of birds, seeing how the sand beneath the water collects in waves. This is more effective a way of turning my heart than sitting in a dark auditorium singing repetitive, though well meaning songs. For in the outside I do not participate in man made things, but envelop myself amidst that which speaks of the Creator, wrapped in his words of himself, which speak to heart and soul and being.

And in doing this, I become, once again, better able at speaking back. For having listened I can add my own words, joining in with the song that plays throughout eternity, letting my voice contribute to the rhythm and melody.

So, yes it was effective, and the balm to my earlier ill. My eyes were returned to the goal, my heart listened again to the quiet whisper of the wind. Nothing was solved, nothing was answered, only my focus was regained, and that was God’s wish for me today. Now quiet and still, I sit feeling a taste of the energy, though without the destructive anxiety.

I am closer tonight than this morning. That is all that matters. Acedia is a liar. And must be fought with faith, of course, and action, letting the body’s own resources fight the battle within. It was medicine for my soul, and I thank God for the opportunity. An odd thing, as regularly as I do this, there are special times going out takes on a spiritual meaning. For that I give thanks. All is well.

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