Monday, August 17, 2009


In a sense I have been writing this story all my life. But I can also say that it began more than twenty years ago, when I first encountered the word acedia in The Praktikos, a book by the fourth-century Christian monk Evagrius Ponticus. Across a distance of sixteen hundred years he spoke clearly of the inner devastation caused by the demon of acedia when it "[made] it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and that the day is fifty hours long." Boredom tempts him "to look constantly out the windows, to walk outside the cell, to gaze carefully at the sun to determine [the lunch hour]."But Evagrius soon discovers that this seemingly innocuous activity has an alarming and ugly effect, for having stirred up a restlessness that he is unable to shake, the demon taunts him with the thought that his efforts at prayer and contemplation are futile.....

As I read this I felt a weight lift from my soul, for I had just discovered an accurate description of something that had plagued me for years but that I had never been able to name. As any reader of fairy tales can tell you, not knowing the true name of your enemy, be it a troll, a demon, or an "issue," puts you at a great disadvantage, and learning the name can help to set you free. "He's describing half my life," I thought to myself. To discover an ancient monk's account of acedia that so closely matched an experience I'd had at the age of fifteen did seem a fairy-tale moment. To find my deliverer not a knight in shining armor but a gnarled desert dweller, as stern as they come, only bolstered my conviction that God is a true comedian.

------ from ACEDIA & ME: A MARRIAGE, MONKS, AND A WRITER'S LIFE by Kathleen Norris

Indeed Norris is accurate in calling God a "true comedian". Except today I'm not in the mood for laughter. The summer has been long and hot and without resolution for me on different levels. I feel like a tiny dingy lost at sea, sometimes. Big waves tossing me high, then crashing over the bow... but then Grace returns in a blink of an eye and the words of St Sienna echo in the cavern of acedia. I am not the dingy at all... for God is in me and I in God, like the fish is in the sea and sea in the fish. (St Sienna)
So no matter where the waves take me or how far and wide I swim... God is everywhere to be found. Here. There. Within. Always.

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