Sins of Oblivion

I am tempted to oblivion. Not always, not incessantly, not even often, but tempted still. I have wanted to be overwhelmed with the pleasures of some sin so that I might be free from mental puzzles I cannot solve and free from the discomforts that exasperate me.

I splash ankle-deep in these waters from time to time, binge-watching tv or lost in a social media loop on my phone. Many years ago I waded into the waist-high water with underage drinking, lasciviousness, infidelity, and so on. In the midst of this episode I ended up at a small but vile party that included a giant burning cross. I was disturbed by the desecration of a symbol that I knew was sacred, and it deeply impressed upon me that there was a dread impossible to avoid except by extinction

over the Baltic sea

over the Baltic sea

To surrender to the vices of oblivion (or don't all vices lead there?) is really to give in to hopelessness. 

Then as now, the lure to drown myself in some sea of forgetfulness is as strong as my patience is weak. (I prefer the term patience rather than the archaic term longsuffering because I prefer to avoid the truth that patience means suffering.) Impatience is short-suffering, short because it can't hold fast hope. >> 

The waiting is in vain. There's nothing that's worth enduring this. Better to be destroyed by this vicious pleasure than to withstand desire and to enjoy the nourishing fruit of virtue. 

Diving into oblivion––utter forgetfulness––is seen as the coward's end, running away from one's problems and all that. But I think we should consider that it may also be an act of aggression, an attempt to overcome the enemy by overwhelming it and eventually destroying it.  –if the enemy is the mind.  –if the enemy is the conscience. –if the enemy is discomfort, frustration, pain, sense. -if the enemy is the self.

How can one overcome the enemy that is oneself, that is one's own self? It does not seem possible to obliterate the enemy without ending one's mind in oblivion or ending one's existence in death. 

 

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Rom 8:37

"thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor 15:57

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Gal 2:20

"...Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col 1:27

a modern terror of ancient suffering

>> a poem by Ernesto Cardenal, an interpretation of the biblical Psalm 22, of David, from Cardenal's "Salmos de este momento en el mundo" (click here to hear this piece read). An English translation follows.
 

SALMO 21 (22)

Dios mío Dios mío ¿por qué me has abandonado? 
Soy una caricatura de hombre
el desprecio del pueblo 
Se burlan de mí en todos los periódicos
Me rodean los tanques blindados 
estoy apuntado por las ametralladoras 
y cercado de alambradas
las alambradas electrizadas
Todo el día me pasan lista 
Me tatuaron un número
Me han fotografiado entre las alambradas
y se pueden contar como en una radiografía todos mis huesos
Me han quitado toda identificación
Me han llevado desnudo a la cámara de gas 
y se repartieron mis ropas y mis zapatos 
Grito pidiendo morfina y nadie me oye
grito con la camisa de fuerza
grito toda la noche en el asilo de enfermos mentales 
en la sala de enfermos incurables
en el ala de enfermos contagiosos 
en el asilo de ancianos
agonizo bañado de sudor en la clínica del psiquiatra 
me ahogo en la cámara de oxígeno
lloro en la estación de policía
en el patio del presidio 
en la cámara de torturas
en el orfelinato
estoy contaminado de radioactividad
y nadie se me acerca para no contagiarse
Pero yo podré hablar de ti a mis hermanos 
Te ensalzaré en la reunión de nuestro pueblo 
Resonarán mis himnos en medio de un gran pueblo 
Los pobres tendrán un banquete
Nuestro pueblo celebrará una gran fiesta 
El pueblo nuevo que va a nacer.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

PSALM 21 (22) 

My God my God, why have you abandoned me?
I am a caricature of a person
despised by the people
They sneer at me in all the newspapers
Tanks surround me
machine guns take aim at me
barbed wire, loaded with electricity, imprisons me
Every day I am being called up
I am tattooed with a number
They photographed me behind the gates
and my bones can be counted like on an X-ray
All identification has been removed from me
Naked they pushed me into the gas chamber
and my clothes and shoes they have shared among themselves
I cry for morphine and no one hears me
I cry with the straitjacket
I cry every night in the mental hospital
in the ward for incurable patients
in the quarantine wing
in the asylum of the elderly
I agonize, covered in sweat, in the psychiatric clinic
I suffocate with the oxygen tank
I cry at the police station
in the prison courtyard
in the torture chamber
in the orphanage
I am contaminated with radioactivity
and no one comes near me, for fear of infection
But I will speak of you to my brothers
You I will praise at our public meetings
My hymns will be sung in large crowds
The poor will hold a banquet
Our people -- the people yet to be born -- 
will rejoice in a great feast.

 

I like this poem mainly for 2 reasons

1. Through its contemporization it gives me deeper insight into the sufferings of David and of Christ; it makes me to feel a modern terror of ancient suffering.

2. It draws a line, thick and intolerable, between the suffering Christ and the oppressed and forgotten of today.

It 100% succeeds as a poem. 

detail of "Golgotha", a painting by Gebre Kristos Desta (1963, Ethiopia) 

Yet It All Seems Limitless

"We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four of five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

:: Paul Bowles

Making Life Choices. While Holding Hands.

Making life choices can be agonizing.

I know.

I've had to make too many lately.

You're there, looking at the options, and praying that God would just show you the right one. Could it light up or something? I don't have a sheep fleece; would this North Face one work? Go ahead, God: just whisper the right answer in my ear. TELL ME WHAT THE RIGHT CHOICE IS! Please.

Since I'm now an expert in making agonizing life choices (ahahahahaaaaa!),

here's my advice to you. Specifically to you, Sonya, since my blog comment didn't post.

>>

Choose whatever path your heart desires, as long as you can take Christ there with you. "Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go..." Don't worry about choosing something that's outside your fate or destiny and thereby ruining your life forever. That won't happen! Your destiny is joy in Christ and life with Him forever. So choose the thing you think you want the most, and take the hand of Jesus, skipping into the bright future! Good things await.