Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In the still of the night...

I stumbled across this passage this morning that I thought would be interesting to post.

A great anxiety has God allotted,
and a heavy yoke, to its sons and daughters,
From the day one leaves her mother's womb
to the day she returns to the mother of all the living,
Her thoughts, the fear in her heart,
and her troubled forebodings till the day she dies--
Whether she sits on a lofty throne
or grovels in dust and ashes,
Whether she bears a splendid crown
or is wrapped in the coarsest of cloaks--
Are of wrath and envy, trouble and dread,
terror of death, fury and strife.
Even when she lies on her bed to rest,
her cares at night disturb her sleep.
So short is her rest it seems like none,
till in her dreams she struggles as she did day by day,
Terrified by what her mind's eye sees
like a fugitive being pursued;
As she reaches safety, she wakes up
astonished that there was nothing to fear.
(Sir 40:1-7)

How often I've lain awake at night trying to fall asleep, with fears and anxieties coursing through my mind, often unrealistic fears and anxieties that I thought I'd long since conquered or buried. Why do these disturbing thoughts come bubbling to the surface when one is most open and undistracted, most vulnerable and eager to fall off to sleep?

It must be that the daily business of life (work, home, telephones, tv, radios, etc.) drowns out our fears during the course of our day and their tiny voices emerge when the world surrounding us has quieted down.

Remember the Anxiety Closet in the Bloom County comic strip, how it was full of the most absurd and humorous fears and anxieties like killer clowns or accountants. It is a relief to put a name and a face to what feels like such a personal experience and realize that even the most self-confident and unreflective narcissist probably has an Anxiety Closet of their own with the door shut and bolted and a chair pushed up against the door handle.

I guess one of the possible messages of the passage is that there exists the possibility that we will "wake up"--from our unthinking ways of acting? from our self-absorption? from our delusions about how the world works? from our prejudices and negative thinking? from our self-destructive habits?--and be astonished that there was nothing to fear.