Stagger with Me as I Crash and Burn ~ Readjusting to the non-monastic life


“How was your weekend? Tell me all about it!”

Go away, humans…

“MO-OM! It’s not fair that he gets to clean only ONE room when I have to clean the guest room AND the hallway!” “Where my britches? I need some britches.” “The FAMILY ROOM is TWICE as big as the guest room and THREE TIMES as messy!” “Excuse me, ma’am, I wanted to let you know about an exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity available to you and your neighbors…” “I NEED SOME BRITCHES MA-MA.”


Crash into chips

CRAAAAAASH into chips


The Weekend of Art was such a magnificently non-corporeal experience.  I get the appeal of gnosticism. Given my druthers, I would certainly choose existence as pure mind, interacting with the creators and appreciators of beauty, having someone else make my sandwiches. Except not sandwiches, because as I growled at my child upon walking back in the door, “I DON’T EAT SANDWICHES!” (flings self on fainting couch)

The clincher, though, the thing that really made it all work, was the Liturgy of the Hours. Before, I’d considered the Liturgy of the Hours a good thing to have around, up on a shelf, in case I ever felt like being more Catholic up in here. But it seemed a little like – overkill, maybe? Like, I’m doing fine without this structure imposed on my day, man, and you might say there’s benefit to joining in the ancient prayer of the Church and marking the hours, but hey, man, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

See. Even the Dude agrees.

IRONICALLY HOWEVER, the Dude is directly linked to another experience I had with the Liturgy of the Hours – our visit to a monastery in Pecos, New Mexico a few years back. (The same monastery where they filmed Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges).

So here we see the internal tension between monasticism and dude-ness. As I crashed and burned, so, so hard this week, a little voice in the back of my head has been saying irritating things like “An orderly life is conducive to virtue” and “you will feel greater peace if you step away from the carbs and shine your sink” and “Seriously, you can spend 15 minutes on Twitter in the morning but can’t pull up the Liturgy of the Hours on your phone?”

Fundamentally, though, the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours wasn’t the basis of the weekend because it’s somehow what we Ought to Do Because We Follow Rules. It’s more like a regimen that roots you in the eternal. You both step outside your daily activities to immerse yourself in the timeless prayer of the Church, and wake up to what you are doing right at that time of the day – asking for grace in that present moment. I’m veering dangerously close to using language like “nourish your spirit” that I first learned when selling candles, so perhaps I should just say “oh, it’s gloriously ineffable!” and leave it at that.

Mrs. Duffy, my sister in acedia, seems to have similar resolve of late.

I’ve grown a bit tired of my slacker posture. Saturday afternoon, not looking at the clock until 6 P.M., and darn, I’ve missed Confession again. I look at pictures on Facebook or blogs of the beautiful meals other people are eating for dinner, and I smirk a bit to myself about how they haven’t captured for all of posterity their child misbehaving, or a fight they’ve had with their spouse. No, they’ve captured the sun shining on their ethnic cuisine. Well don’t they have it good? They must have their stuff together. I don’t have my stuff together, but at least . . . I’m approachable—right? I’m O.K. Click, click.

I really liked Sally Thomas’ description of acedia as ” a tiny little chronic not-quite-pain that you get used to, and eventually arrange your entire life to accommodate” in the discussion in the comments. That’s just it.

Oh, the world is crashing around me, because WHOSE JOB is it to CLEAN THE STAIRCASE, mom?!?!?!? So I should lift my carb-fortified self from this chair and bust out the steam mop, at least until it’s time for…lauds? No, Lauds are in the morning…terce? Anyone?

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  1. Liz H says

    Love this! I had the same problem when I came back home after going through aspirancy with a cloistered order. Going from very structured days to no structure at all was overwhelming!

  2. says

    You know, I can’t decide whether I think it’s a good thing to know that everyone else I know has acedia or not. Is a support group a blessing or a curse? These are the questions I ask myself, instead of taking a shower and going to the grocery store — and, or because, I know I’m not alone . . . But then again, I have been spurred to act, at least, like I care, and to sweep the floor of my soul just a little.

    I had a good time with this in Confession yesterday (no, really. I can make my confessor laugh, and then I feel badly because I’m being flippant and inadequately contrite, but hey, if he’s laughing, and then absolves me, it must be okay? Right?). I had admitted that we’re preparing to do the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in our home, which is almost totally my husband’s thing — he has the longstanding devotion — and that although I was going through the motions, I honestly didn’t care that much. I was grateful to have something to *do,* which is always what I like about being Catholic, but I couldn’t make myself be all that invested. So my Confessor said, “Well, I think God is trying to point out to you that you really need this.” Uh, yeah . . . He also said not to expect anything in particular out of it, which I think was probably good advice. We had a parish mission devoted to the Enthronement, with an overflow of miracle stories of the sort that make me feel defeated before I even start. “Expect nothing” was precisely what I needed to hear.

    I like the LOTH, although I have serious trouble making myself do it. It’s so much easier to fantasize about the peaceful life of the cloistered contemplative. If we didn’t say it corporately, in church, after daily Mass, I would never say it. I’m always the one flipping pages and peering surreptitiously at other people’s books to see what week we’re on without having to ask. I’m always glad TO pray it, but getting on my own from not-praying to praying is a herculean task somehow . . .

    (and thank you for the link!)

  3. says

    “in case I ever felt like being more Catholic up in here” Actually laughed out loud at that. I would never get away with writing that, I am just. too. lame.

  4. says

    I like that part about “sister in acedia” – at first I thought a whole Acedia Sorority would be cool, but then I decided I… didn’t care(!) Seriously, re-entry can be such a let-down, especially when you come from the ethereal to the, um, more concrete stuff of daily existence. I’m about to head to an icon workshop at a monastery. It’s always such a wonderful week, and not just because of the table of carb-y desserts at lunch and dinner. I love that there’s morning Mass a couple of doors down the hall from my bedroom.

  5. says

    Ahhhhh, reentry. I really do think this is a particular “state” in life, of the very many different states that make up the womanly, or heck, just the human vocation. How to harness all the energy and ideas and good things about a time away to make them work for you at home rather than against you. Take your time, I say.

    But that may just be your sister in acedia talking.

  6. says

    I prefer my spirituality in the midst of chaos: praying the Rosary while pacing the hallway (sometimes followed by a parade of children, at least one of whom insists on describing in detail the latest Bionicle he’s created), roaming the back of the church during Mass: upstairs, downstairs, outside. Quiet times of contemplation with anyone else nearby (like other parishioners, or — yikes — fellow retreatants) tend to send me into a tizzy of anxiety.

    • says

      Thanks for the link to the post!

      I enjoyed praying the Liturgy of the Hours in community because there really wasn’t anything interpersonal to stress out about (are we going to have to hold hands? am I going to be asked to share? How long is this going to take? Is anyone else getting up from her chair yet or should I stay another five minutes?). I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m actually an introvert.

  7. says

    First off, I fully appreciate any post that combines “the Dude” and the Liturgy of the Hours, I think it makes for great theology.

    I agree with Betty in that I feel pulled and distracted into my spiritual sloth-dom. I know I often blame having four toddlers with constant interrupting needs, but I fit on 5 min a morning of Facebook, blogging, why not morning prayer? I feel as if my attention span is so small I just jump completely over the opportunity for prayer during the day.