Addendum

“Why do I make room in my mind for such filth and nonsense? Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less? Aren’t all these notes the senseless writhings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?” – A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

I can see why he wrote, published under a pseudonym, yet was appalled at some of his own notes.

I’ll stop vacillating between “publish” and “draft”. I hate the impulse to cut and curate for no good purpose other than to serve my own vanity.

It’s not the parts about God. At least they face God, however imperfectly.

The fears or tears (here, so it now appears) are about me. Loss of what is mine. The concern for anyone else involved, little that there is, matters “chiefly for its effect on myself”.

“And all the time the joke is that the word “Mine” in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say “Mine” of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong – certainly not to them, whatever happens.” – Screwtape Letters (letters from a senior to a junior devil), C.S. Lewis

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Nirvana

Nothing like a plane trip to shake a slither of emotion out of a cold heart. The Laputa-like views of the day, or deep blackness of the night, and the remote but real possibility of falling out of the sky altogether, is a humbling reminder of how small and limited we are. This, with no phone or Wi-Fi signals to distract, creates a few magical hours of altitude, solitude (across longitude and latitude…) and still does, no matter how often I fly.

Is that a few tears, perhaps? Barely enough to wet a tissue. It’s gone. What were they for? So unlike the days past where tears flowed freely, for intolerable stretches, and I knew exactly what they were about. I’m pleased at the transformation. I never want to feel like that again. I never want to feel again. I don’t want to think either. Oh I know, I’ve been told, it can’t be healthy in the long term. But I like the illusion of being in control.

For a brief moment I was stung, by a little sadness and many fears. Quickly buried under a blanket of resignation and indifference. How fragile, how precarious, is love, is life. Fear of disappointment and losing what I have. A greater fear, it sounds so irrational typed out, of losing what I’ve lost or can’t hold onto.

I will be dutiful but distant at home, in case death arrives – perhaps I won’t even have to grieve if I prepare early enough. I will be a friend, listening and caring well enough, but not trusting people with anything of myself – unreliable friends most have been, so who needs them? I will offer affection and commitment in relationship, but cautiously, with a store of apathy for a rainy day – love can hurt, a lot and for a long time. Surely, without exception, the end of all love is separation. Why risk being emotionally attached? It can’t be healthy, but I’m half-hearted in believing that, or wanting to do anything about it.

Inconsistent, isn’t it? On some level I believe a God who is incomprehensible, Trinitarian, self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, immutable, omniscient, wise, omnipotent, transcendent, omnipresent, faithful, good, just, merciful, gracious, loving, holy, and sovereign. Yet I live as if such a God doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s as if I’m trying to attain nirvana. If not the Buddhist kind of nirvana (I don’t know enough about Buddhism to be sure), at least my own form of freedom from desire, attachment, and suffering.

“For then, though I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss… This is one of the things I’m afraid of. The agonies, the mad midnight moments, must, in the course of nature, die away. But what will follow? Just this apathy, this dead flatness?”– A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

Kataware doki

I do like the idea. A time when light and dark co-exist. Of start and end. Past and present. Where dream meets reality. It’s a colourful time of the day too.

I think I live in this unreal state of mind too often. At times, I wake up from a vivid dream and take awhile to realise that nothing was real. The years are a blur, especially since I started working. Recency and clarity don’t correlate. The end of the year just past is as clear, yet distant, as the previous, and the one, and two before.

I will give the start of last year a little extra airtime though. I wish the drive in those first few weeks lasted longer. Alone and carefree through vast country. Soaking in the summer alpines, cities, coastal towns, rock formations, faraway beaches, historic ports, crater lakes and caves. Getting acquainted with, and being grateful for the predictable presence of McCafe on the road. Then I came to the hot, cactus-laden desert, with waterless lakes and straight roads with no apparent end, and there’s not too much I care to remember thereafter.

When it’s quiet – part two

Suppose I could use my sleepless night now to finish the reflections on troublesome pre-bed thoughts and difficulties falling asleep.

Sleep

Is a mystery. We are well acquainted with it. We can learn about the physiology of it. Yet when I consider sleep (in an abstract sort of way), it’s mind-boggling how it comes and goes, and what happens to us as the hours pass each night. The need to sleep, the inability at times to even make ourselves fall sleep, is humbling.

“Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.” –  A Brief Theology of Sleep, John Piper

Desires

Are most keenly felt when it’s quiet. As are our heartaches and losses.

“We all have this place. Life has not turned out the way we want, and we know God could have handled things differently… How do we live with desire we cannot take care of and heartache we cannot prevent? We groan and wait.” Desire, John Eldredge

Groaning

Too busy to be sad? Groaning makes a time for itself anyway.

“How can we live without groaning? If we do not give our ache a voice, it doesn’t go away. It becomes the undercurrent of our addictions… Just because we do not feel it doesn’t mean it is not there. Our pleasant experience may be the result of the thousand distractions that fill our waking moments.” Desire, John Eldredge

There is such inexpressible weariness in living. We groan, sensing there is something wrong about living with suffering, futility, in a world corrupted by sin. About living with sickness and death, fears, conflicts, broken relationships and unfulfilled longings. In groaning, Christians or not, we often ponder on the difficult but important questions about our existence and future. In groaning, the children of God long all the more for an Earth made new, to dwell with God, and for him to wipe away all our tears, pain and death.

Poverty

In self sufficiency, we neither feel lacking in anything, nor do we feel unwell, without God. Doesn’t feel that God is big or that we are small. Shouldn’t we be able to sort ourselves out if we have sharp minds, adequate resources, years of experience, a few books at hand, sensible friends? (And a good doc? Haha.) Yet, when it’s quiet, in despair or weariness, it’s easier to see our emptiness and desire to be filled with a hope and joy that lasts.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:3-4