Thursday, October 20, 2005

Life, Death and Love: Introduction

I decided to move "LIFE, DEATH AND LOVE: A Journey Through Spiritual Despair"
to an independent blog site. This is a reposting of the original post about my lost manuscript to Pithless Thoughts Following this is the first couple chapters that I posted there. I will post the entirety of the manuscript only here and not on my personal blog.

I did this because I want the book to stand on its own without people having to wade through my personal blog and my intermittent rambling about my life. All of the content of this blog is copyrighted and the property of myself. Not that I think anyone will be interested in actually publishing this, but what the heck...I went through hell to get these words, I think I'll keep them as my own. So, here is the original post and introduction to "Life, Death and Love: The Heart of Sorrows, A Journey Through Spiritual Despair"
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I found an old manuscript for a book that I wrote during the late 80's. I remembered writing it, but the computer I wrote it on long since died and I thought it was all in there. I was cleaning my bookshelves and found a tattered manila folder and in it was a sheaf of yellowed, wrinkled and hand-edited papers: my manuscript for "Life, Death and Love: The Heart of Sorrows". It was a time of spiritual desperation that I still vividly recall, but for the most part no longer exist in. By God's mercy, I only now visit the shadows of spiritual desperation, not live in the dark abyss continually. I may post it entirely here, I may do excerpts... I don't know. Much of what is in it is intensely autobiographical and personal, as perhaps a book on spiritual despair must be since it cannot be written about adequately from an academic viewpoint. Anyway, here is the introduction. Perhaps more to come....

LIFE, DEATH AND LOVE: The Heart of Sorrows
A Journey Through Spiritual Despair

Introduction

This is a book about sorrow. It is not about crisis, of some extraordinary evil or desperate station in life dealt you by fate or choice or Satan or God. It is of a kind of life, a life of mourning, of a spiritual melancholy, of perpetual sorrows of a depth and intensity that can only come from believing in God, or longing to believe in God in the face of the chaotic ambiguities and havoc of life.

This book is for the ones who find the experience of spiritual joy elusive. It is for you who feel guilty because you fake the happy Christian life to be accepted by a group who, deep inside, you believe are for the most part faking it too. It is for those who find more reasons to question God, to rail at Him, to argue with Him than to praise Him. It is for those who have a deep and hurting hollow place within them that no sermon, no prayer, no scripture verse, no spiritual exercise has ever touched with healing. It is for those who struggle silently with a sense of abandonment and loneliness in the midst of friends and lovers. It is for those who are exhausted by desperation and waiting for God. It is for those who sometimes feel they can wait on Him no longer and consider death a treasure to be sought more than life. It is for you who have considered suicide because death held out to you an enchanting promise that no logic or philosophy could dissuade you from believing.

I do not come to you like Job's friends with the mirrors and smoke of religion to magically turn the reality of these struggles into a shared illusion of joy. I will not try to tell you a step-by-step plan on how to overcome the sorrows because I do not know one. But neither do I seek one because I am not yet sure that they need to be overcome, or that they can be, or even that they should be. As fearful and as dark as the sorrows come, if they come from God it would serve us well to dwell in them, seek their wisdom and learn their ways: Their ways would lead us to God Himself, the Healer of the broken hearted. So all I will tell you is what I have experienced of God, His presence and absence, about humanness and hopelessness and fear and forsakenness, about faith, about love and hope in these, my sorrows.

I do not presume to think that in my struggles I have asked God any new questions, observed some new manifestation of God's ambiguous presence and appalling and embarrassing absences, or cursed God more articulately for any of it. I make no pretense to have suffered any more angst over the futility of existence or fallen any more deeply into despair at injustice, decay, and finitude than anyone else who walks this world with clear and open eyes. I seek only to cast the Light upon the experience, the One True Light that does not seek to trick the eye and hide the wrinkles and spots, but reveals the realities in all their harsh and glorious truths.

Of what value is this if I cannot give you answers, you ask. If nothing else, you will know you are not alone in your sorrows, nor lost while walking in this way, nor are you unspiritual or lacking faith. I write so you will know, even if you are raging at God in the shadows of death, you are indeed longing after and deep within the heart of God, that you are not opposed to Him and cast off by Him. You will know that yours is the common experience of the prophets, the apostles, and of all true lovers and friends of God.

I give you this, Life, Death and Love, each with its peculiar sorrows. They are each an odd road sign that points into the abyss, the unmapped caverns of spiritual despair. They lead us there because, if we will risk the journey, it is there in the darkness that we will find God silently waiting.

2 Comments:

Blogger MMSarvotham said...

I am about the same age as you.Sometime back I had an overwhelmimg ee of seeing God in person & touching Him.It was a dream but for me it was real.I was walking up a narrow stairs darkly lit & ascendoing haphazardly.As I reached the top, I saw 'Ganesha' the elephant faced God of Hindus,the destroyer of evil & harbinger of good times.I woke up after seeing Him, early at dawn.It was a very humbling experience that God wanted to tell me that He is with me.After that experince my life has never been the same again.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron Friar said...

Steve,

What you said:
"I write so you will know, even if you are raging at God in the shadows of death, you are indeed longing after and deep within the heart of God, that you are not opposed to Him and cast off by Him. You will know that yours is the common experience of the prophets, the apostles, and of all true lovers and friends of God."

It reminds of what Fr. Seraphim Rose said, that Chirst os closer to the big deniers that he is to the small affirmers. Thank you for sharing your journey. I cried in sympathy through most of the introduction.

8:18 AM  

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