The second in my posting thoughts on Acedia, from Kathleen Norris’ excellent book on the subject. One of the hardest parts of this struggle is not being able to put thoughts into words, explaining my inner thoughts to people without the medium of pen and paper is impossibly hard (just ask the ever patient husbandface).
It’s good to have words that describe this struggle and it’s effects on us. So here are some good quotes that sum it up oh so well.
“Acedia contains within itself so many concepts: weariness, despair, ennui, boredom, restlessness, impasse, futility…. At the first sign of difficulty or obstruction you try to think of ways to move past it, but at every turn you defeat yourself, shooting each fresh idea down as unlikely to work. How foolish of you to have ever believed in that person, that project, that God. You tell yourself that whatever may have worked won’t help you now and you grow cynical in your despair… you are severely tempted to abandon whatever once gave your life joy and meaning…. “The most confusing and damnable part of the dark night”, notes the Carmelite Constance Fitzgerald, “is the suspicion and fear that much of the darkness is of ones own making.”
It’s the last sentence here that gets to me, that’s always my deepest fear, that I am making this all up in my head and that I’m just not trying hard enough to get through it. I love that other people know this fear, that I am not alone.
“How is it possible to maintain our sanity, let alone to foster hope? Acedia is a particularly savage enemy, because it is not content with just a part of us. Evagrius writes that “the other demons are like the rising or setting sun in that they are found in only a part of the soul. The noonday demon, however, is accustomed to embrace the entire soul and oppress the spirit….”
Too true. It’s a cold blanket that covers and taints everything with grey hideous fog. Every relationship is affected, every thought has black edges, nothing escapes it’s grasp.
“The kingdom of God within us is not something we gain through training, wit or skill. It comes to us as pure gift and we are free to nourish it, curb it or ignore it. Given the power and resilience of this grace, it is a terrible irony that the despairing so often feel rejected by a distant and uncaring God. When we are convinced that we are beyond the reach of grace, acedia has done it’s work. John Cassian states that acedia’s whole purpose is to sever us from thoughts of God.”
It’s where the devil would love us to stay, deeply believing that the God who passionately and lavishly pours his love out on us is a lie. It’s the deepest darkness to believe that you are beyond the grace and compassion of our God.