I tend to see Lent as a spiritual journey, and indeed it is often described that way in homily and song. But I never got off on a good foot this year. I had no directions, no ideas, no inspiration. Definitely no road map.
|This actually would have been an improvement.|
I feel like that first step dropped me into the Slough of Despond, and there I wallow.
Oh, sure, I had some plans, the usual giving up of this and intending to do that. Usually I make it a point to do some appropriate reading in Lent as well as Advent -- the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, some of the more crucial prophets, books about the faith, as well as books by great Christian authors like Lewis and Belloc, have all been in my reading list at these times of year. This year it's been a failure. I decided to read G.K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man, which I probably last read close to twenty years ago. I got a couple of chapters in and I got stuck. It's not Chesterton's writing, which I love, or his arguments or anything else. I just would appear to be having some kind of revolt against books.
You probably know about these novels I've written; you may know that the bulk of my freelance work comes from editing books. I've been devoted to the written word since childhood. Now I want to start my own little book burning in the backyard. (With all my books it would rival the Texas A&M Aggie bonfire.)
It's true; the last book I finished with no one paying me to do it was John Delaney's A Woman Clothed with the Sun, my Advent reading. It's not a fun read. Yet somehow a handful of months ago I was able to get through that, and now I can't make myself read a book I love.
I fear I may be dealing with a case of depression. I've been diagnosed with major depression in the past, and submitted to counseling and medication for a while, but it has not reared up at me in a few years. Back then I was still able to read, although unable to write. Maybe because I was working in magazines at the time rather than books.
Even worse, I've come to a place where I can no longer trust my hunches or instincts at all. "Go with your gut" is pretty good advice -- but no longer for me. Nowadays if I have a strong conviction or inspiration, I guarantee you I will be proved wrong. If there is a bundle of primordial nerves that give us good direction when our higher brains fail, or if there is a guardian angel seeking to lead each of us to good decision and good action, I'm telling you I cannot get proper messages from either of them.
I'll grant you there's a lot of things going on right now, some of them frustrating or depressing, but whose life does not have challenges and even dangers? If my faith isn't helping me deal with these things, then there's something wrong with it or there's something wrong with me. Experience tells me to suspect first that the problem is sitting in my chair, typing on my laptop, right this second.