Betty Duffy

(Amateur)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Following the Voice of the Gatekeeper

Maybe it would make you uncomfortable if I said that there are times when my morning demons haunt me all day, when I feel desperate about all the different ways a thing can fail, the ways the world is failing, the ways I fail.

I’ve heard that when people are on the road to an affair, they move with a sense of inevitability. Nothing can stop the way their heart goes until their affection is consummated. Thank heavens I’ve been spared that road, but the devil knows how to jump the gates to every heart—and if I’ve moved with a sense of inevitability towards a desire I have permitted to take hold, it has been towards death. Sometimes I really want to die. Today.

I wish I could say this longing has the purity of a longing for Heaven, but it is in the same family with pining for the past, with preferring fantasy to reality, with escaping from rather than rising to the duties of my life. And nothing can save me, at least not the typical things: not a cup of coffee, not a shower and some fresh air, no creative outlet, not beautiful music, not laughing babies.

Certain things exasperate it, like crying babies, loss of sleep, a messy house, things getting broken, too much sugar, not enough sugar, a headache, and feeling a lack of something. But as soon as that lack is filled, I can become just as depressed by abundance and perfection. The world simply has no cure.

Only prayer is a cure.

It is a cure each day, when each day the demons attack with fresh ferocity. It is a cure when my will is not enough to overcome fatigue, when nothing is good: “Let us sing to the Lord all our life, alleluia!”

What the hell language is that?

The language of the Church supplants my own. I need new words, those of my fellow believers. “The waters swirled about me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me.” (Jon 2:6) and yet, “From on high he reached down and seized me; he drew me forth from the mighty waters.” (Ps 18:17)

I had forgotten. Even since yesterday, I had forgotten that the wind and sea obey my God.

Sometimes I need the Church to speak for me, to pray for me, to save me. Sometimes I don’t want to pray; death is preferable. But the words read from the liturgy of the hours, other people’s words, the prayer of the Church throughout the centuries, literally saves my life.

And then the magnitude of that universal prayer lifts me up. I am in awe of it: the idea that if I pray for the whole Church, everyone is the beneficiary of my prayer, including myself. And if others pray for the whole Church, I am the beneficiary of others’ prayers, even those in another part of the world, in other times of history; the Church eternal, the Kingdom of God, prays with me and for me. It saves my life. And it blows my mind.

11 comments:

Young Mom said...

I love this post. I was just contemplating failure and perfection myself.

Karyn said...

Beautiful. I need to recall this post when I have those moments (or days or weeks).

Lizzie said...

What a beautiful post - thank you for the reminder that prayer is the only answer. What an act of will that is sometimes...

Ellen said...

As a mom of two young kids who lately has been looking at the long, hard road ahead and thinking, "How am I going to have the energy to just keep doing this day in and day out?"... I am with you.

Sarah said...

I look often to you for encouragement - did you know that? :) One of the best encouragements I come back to time and again was "This is my Eden". Regularly it is part of my daily prayer time to ask God to help me to remember that and believe it. Perhaps it can provide you with some needed encouragement as well, again?

Carrie said...

"...the wind and sea obey my God." Those words went to my heart where they were so needed and welcome. I stop by often and always leave with something. Thank you.

TS said...

Nice...I wish I could show as much blogesty (blog + honesty) as you!

BettyDuffy said...

Blogesty is embarrassing. Be glad you have more sense than I do.

TS said...

Heck no, blogesty is why I read blogs, and it's mostly why I read at all. Somebody important* once said that we read in order to find out our condition is not as solitary as we think. In this post I felt less solitary given my own melancholic struggles.

* - Samuel Johnson seems to have said everything so I'll say it was him.

Alishia said...

I agree with TS's last comment. I read to find that I'm not alone. So that when I'm feeling desperate I can remind myself to, do as you're talking about, pray. "With joy you shall draw water from the well of salvation." That's from somewhere in Isaiah and it's been rattling around in my head. I have to draw from that well, that deep, dark well. That can be hard. It's not like picking a tasty peach off a tree.

~beautyandjoy~ said...

I just got sent this link and it is so encouraging to read your writing. Thank you.