Monday, March 5, 2012

The Edge of Sadness

Who knew that such a mild winter could be so hard?  That the gravitational pull of my sofa and my bed could exert such tremendous force?  The strange thing was that the effects weren't felt so much by my body as my spirit.  Physically, I was active.  I was running regularly, getting reasonably fit.  The other side of the coin: it was next to impossible to get out of bed, off the couch.  Chores wouldn't have been done at all except for hosting a get-together with a few colleagues.  I felt constantly behind at work.  No meetings.  No Vespers.  Prayer, which usually is a real joy, had no appeal whatsoever.  My waking life seemed to revolve around the web and the remote, each involved in a futile search for something that would catch and hold my interest.

So, I got sick.  Facing a cold and a weekend that promised a little winter, I made soup -- 2 gallons of soup -- and settled in with a novel.

Somewhere, months before, I had read a discussion of The Edge of Sadness.  It sounded like an excellent novel.  I bought it, brought it home, and put it on a bookshelf in the disaster area that is my extra bedroom.  There it stayed.  As I considered my weekend of winter and discomfort,  I remembered reading this:

I just finished reading “The Edge of Sadness” by Edwin O’Connor. It’s the best novel I’ve read in a long time, about a priest who’s been through a period of spiritual aridity and finds at the end of it, the freedom to embrace the life he’s been living as opposed to the life he always thought he wanted. When Father Kennedy finally acknowledges that what he wants is not the warmth and regard of other people, but love and truer devotion to God, his conversion works out like this:

“The mighty changes, of course, did not take place—or if they did they remained invisible to me. Which was natural enough…since a slight increase in the zeal of one man produces no miracles—unless the one man is himself one of the extraordinary few who can and do change history. But nothing like that was involved here. I did my work, time went by…”

And so it does.

Taking my cue, I read the novel, and it is one of the best novels I've read in a long time.  It is beautifully written; the pages flew by.  It is wise.  And, as the Quakers would say, it spoke to my condition.  It cast a new light on how I had been living, not just this winter.

Even though I've fought against it, however passively, it's time for me to actually do the Steps.  My 4th Step is very much clearer now.  It's time for me to arrange my sock drawer, remove the extraneous from my extra bedroom.  It's time to recognize that I'm home.

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