Acedia is the most burdensome of all the demons — so says Evagrius of Pontus. Acedia attacks around midday (10 am to 2 pm for a monk who rose at dawn and went to bed at dark).
Sometime after lunch, the day DOES seem to drag on forever….My early burst of energy is gone. The morning team or staff meeting is over. Perhaps if I were truly God-directed and focused on something other than myself…but I’ve run out of interesting blogposts to read. So I get up, walk out of my office and take a stroll (not a bad thing for sure). But I’m looking for someone — anyone! — to distract me. A bit of gossip? A story? A joke? Anything!!!
Everyone else is gone to lunch, off on an important appointment or busy meeting with someone else.
I hate this place. I’m tired of the worn out carpet, the schlocky art, the interior design by Hobby Lobby. Why isn’t my church in one of the wealthier suburbs (or in the hip inner city?)?! I don’t think ministry is all it’s cracked up to be. I feel isolated….Maybe I should just give this all up, stay home with the kids, be a barista or drive for Uber…..
Why doesn’t anyone make appointments to visit ME or stop by MY office?! Maybe it’s because of what that colleague said at staff meeting. Maybe that church member who wrote me the nasty email also wrote that about me to others.
Every day will be like this day. Where is the joy? Where is the challenge? Why do I still 53 emails to deal with and three evening meetings this week!?
Maybe I’ll sign up for that great conference I heard about and get out of town. Maybe I’ll look at those job listings again…or think about that program that promises church renewal and increased worship attendance!
Now I’m the more phlegmatic, depressive type so I respond to acedia by “restless boredom” and “enervating despair.” But others respond through “frantic escapism” and “commitment phobia” (Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me, p.3). Some of us 21st century “monks” withdraw back to our cells and waste time surfing the internet. Others keep ridiculously busy thinking up projects that are not really needed or signing up for the latest conference or cohort. Then we try to draw others into our unfocused busyness — all in an attempt to escape the feeling that life where we are right now, right here, has little meaning and purpose.
“For I had become aware that it was possible to reject time, as well as embrace it. If I wanted to, I could live just barely, refusing the gift of each day” (Norris, p.12).
My wise mentor and friend, Joel Warne, puts it this way: “Rather than demand a fantasy life we wish was ours, maybe a better idea is to ask how to live fully and joyfully with God in the real life we’ve been given.”
How do you tend to reject the gift of each day? What grounds you in the gift of this day?