Welcome to the Monday Mailing #33 –
You know that feeling. . .
It was probably a few weeks ago when I realized that what I was feeling was not your “garden variety” of depression, but something very different. We’ve been told it is “Covid Brain” or many other things – that inability we are encountering to think carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully – that existential angst we feel as we contemplate how things were and how they are now – the “blahs” that Zoom after Zoom do not seem to cure.
The phrase that came first to my mind was the title of a book by Douglas Adams. The Long, Dark, Tea-Time of the Soul. (Note: Douglas Adams is best known for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series) The novel is named for that time on a Sunday, after afternoon but before evening, as the week-end had finished but the week had not yet begun, that occurred to Adams as a listless limbo of the working man:
In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
Then I was reminded of a work by Kathleen Norris (which I admit, I never could get through. . .I probably could now). The book is entitled: Acedia & me. Acedia is a term from the monastics of the middle ages. It is sometimes translated as sloth, but it doesn’t really capture the depth of the word. Sloth is something we choose, acedia is something that happens to us. It is not depression, but rather is the “spiritual” long, dark, tea-time of the soul.
I confess to acedia in my own life. I am forced to look ahead for my calling. Simply being in the present, being in the day, and not “worrying” about tomorrow is so hard to do, in spite of what our Lord has said. (“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matt 6:34) The worry about tomorrow feeds my acedia and delivers me to the place I do not want to be. . .the place none of us want to be.
Is this you? Are you wrestling with the long, dark, tea-time of the soul? Are you finding yourself in the sloth/not-sloth state of acedia? Welcome to life in a Global Pandemic, National Election, masked and personally distanced existence we find ourselves in.
While there is no Rx I can write for you to cure all this, I can offer a few suggestions. Read and consider something everyday. At https://www.presbyterianmission.org/devotion/daily you will find the daily lectionary readings. Searching for today’s date will find the readings for the day, and they are even printed there, so no need to dig out your bible. . .it is all there. Participate in daily prayer. I offer those on Facebook live on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at noon, and then post to the HUPC page and my own Facebook page. To be honest, I find those 10-15 minutes to be the peaceful and grounding moments of my day. Engage with one another, in appropriate ways – write, call. . .connect. And then remember that tomorrow has enough worries of its own. . .and stay in today. The only control over the election that we have is whether or not we vote. . .and all the angst about it will do nothing – for it, or for us. Make a plan to vote, if you haven’t done so already. But don’t dwell there. Instead, ask yourself what you can do to “make the world a more beautiful place.” (From a much-loved children’s book. . .do you know which one? Email me if you need to know!)
Peace, indeed. . .
PS – Remember to:
if you plan to attend worship in person.
to share joys and concerns before Sunday worship.