Before I get to the really important part of this post, I have to let you know – Acedia and Me, the latest from Kathleen Norris, is going exceptionally well. It’s not a book you can steamroll through in a weekend. It’s an “underliner,” “star and margin notes,” and “need to talk about this little paragraph with a few people before I really get it.” You know what I mean?
I can already sense it is helping me label and understand something I’ve been hedging around for years now.
Here is one of my favorite definitions for the ancient word – acedia:
“…a slackness of the mind…[and] a hostility to vows taken.”
and it’s effect?
“…it reminds those at prayer of some job to be done, and searches any plausible excuse to drag us from prayer, as though with some kind of halter.”
and it’s cumulative effect after years of distracted, tired, and vacant times with the Lord?
“…not only does it make us unable to care, it takes away our ability to feel bad about it. If we can no longer weep, or desire, or feel pain and grief, well, that’s all right; we’ll settle for that, we’ll get by.”
I have seen these symptoms coming and going in my own life for a long time, but in terms of where we are as a human race… the desire to consume, distract ourselves, numb ourselves, escape, “pay later,” block out suffering, make sin palatable, tolerate evil and harm as long as it doesn’t touch us directly – this is the root of it. A little word, a huge and terrible legacy.
I’m less than half way through, but this book is creating a stir and a shifting. As I mentioned, it’s something I’ve been looking to define for sometime. It’s not depression, although I imagine it very often leads to it. It’s a weakness and a lack of concern and passion for the health of our souls, our daily relationship to God and His kingdom, that acts like Novocaine in our being.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. It’s SO good, and her writing is beyond description. It will be a joy to read, regardless of your personal interest in this topic. I promise!
And finally, a tiny bit of ultra-important, relevant, and significant, news.
I let L4 go out in public dressed like this.
(Please note the too short for her sweat pants and dress-up shoes.)
I hear you. I know what you are thinking, but yes – yes I did.