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Acedia–Take 2

September 14, 2012

I went to bed to the sound of a gentle rain falling.  I sat in the dark in the glider chair with window in the boys’ room cracked open.  The boys wanted to listen to the rain falling.  I let the dark and the sound of rain being muffled by leaves surround me as Isaac wiggled and squirmed in his bed, fighting sleep.  I went to bed and cracked my window too, listening to the rain falling, filling up the dry earth, parched by drought still, the third year (fourth?  fifth?) in a row.

I woke up this morning and laid still, still, still.  Was it still raining?  Yes.  The only thing better, I think, than going to bed to the sound of rain was waking up and still hearing the rain.  We drove the big two to school in the rain, Isaac in his too big rain boots, all three wearing new jeans for the first time.

Now, the window next to my computer is cracked open.  I have Gorecki’s Miserere performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale playing the background (Gorecki is Curtis’s favorite and I just found this new recording via NPR last week).  It seems fitting music for a  slow, lingering rain.  We’ll eat mujaddara for supper—lentils with rice and caramelized onions, reveling in the coolness and the raininess that was gone for so long (July since our last substantial rain and here it is September already).

My mood matches this gentle, lingering rain, this Gorecki Miserere, this mujadarra for supper sort of day.  I am reading Kathleen Norris’s Acedia and Me:  A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life.  I suspect reading this is supposed to help the readers combat acedia–that spiritual depression that is often characterized by staring out of windows and the inability to do anything.  While the book has helped my identify aspects of acedia in my life I may have misunderstood before, like the desire to read constantly, rapidly devouring books, it hasn’t helped alleviate the acedia that sets in when the kids go back to school.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp, I have my daily turned into weekly plans posted on the refrigerator, right next to my gratitude lists.  I have my chair in my bedroom where I do my daily liturgy, my quiet, and my occasional naps with God.  I have my exercise schedule, variety included–yoga, spin, outdoor bike rides.  I have my weekly gathering with my dear women.  It is all in place.  Yet, this drip, drip, dripping of the rain makes me realize that acedia has found a foothold.

It’s a bit painful, this listlessness.  It’s making wonder, should I take a masters course in education, to help my eventual return to teaching?  Should I pursue returning to teaching sooner rather than later?  Would that take care of this discontent?  What are my motives for wanting to return to teaching?  Is it because as I stood in the shower the other day, I realized that in just 10 years, my daughter, my bright, crazy curious daughter would be graduating from high school, and we would begin paying for college the following year?  Was it because I realized that three kids equals 12 years of college and how in the world?  It’s either me working or making sure my kids have crazy good grades, which may be easier for some of them than others.

Acedia always finds a path in to my soul.  Always.  So I combat it—with prayers, with exercise, with this writing I’ve told no one about.  I start baking.  Apple cake finds its ways to neighbors, who I learn are alone this week, because her husband is out of town.  She jokingly asks me how she is going to eat supper this week, since her husband isn’t here to make her supper?  I return to her house, homemade sweet potato burrito in hand, to accompany that double slice of apple cake.  I combat it–by noticing the rain running down my little boy’s face, smile connecting his ears, so pleased to be out “working” in the rain, monitoring the make-shift rain collected system his big sister set up.  I combat it–by realizing I may as well just take washing floors off my list, because there’s really no use to do it until after the rain subsides and the mud begins to dry.

And I realize, that the “noon-day demon” as the Desert mothers and fathers refer to acedia, has retreated.  Until another day, when I start worrying needlessly, when I wonder what to do with my days, what is of value, it begins to sneak back.  I thank God for his wonderful grace, for the rain that falls, for the three wonderful children I have, for having options, for writing, for Gorecki and music, for neighbors, for apple cake, for my yoga class this morning.  As usually occurs when acedia has been vanquished once again by the grace of God, I remember the old hymn that we sang at my Grandfather’s funeral a little over a year ago…..

Great is thy faithfulness,

Oh God my father,

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed, thy hand has provided

Great is thy faithfulness

Lord unto me.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Melanie Miller permalink
    September 14, 2012 9:22 pm

    Really beautiful Melani!

  2. Mary Heckmann permalink
    September 16, 2012 5:09 pm

    This is beautifully written and heartfelt Melani. Thanks so much for sharing. Life is such an interesting roller coaster. When we are too busy, we crave the quiet moments. When we have too many quiet moments, we feel restless and guilty for not doing more. I can only imagine that is why God designed us with a hole to be filled by his presence and the need for connectedness within a community. I think many women feel this way so thanks for putting your feelings out there for others to read.

    • September 21, 2012 8:42 am

      It’s all about balance isn’t it? It’s always all about balance, at least for me. Sometimes I think the lack of balance is a good thing for me, just so I can learn to rely on God a bit more.

  3. September 20, 2012 7:09 am

    Thoughtful, poignant and beautifully expressed.

  4. September 21, 2012 8:41 am

    Thanks y’all. 🙂

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