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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life - Kathleen Norris This is another of Kathleen Norris' books, published in 2008, so the most recent of the books she's written. I read "The Quotidian Mysteries" first, then this book, then her others in random order. The text of "The Quotidian Mysteries" is actually about a chapters worth of material in "Acedia and Me", so you see some of the same material over again.As I mentioned before, reading Kathleen Norris' books is rather like peeling an onion. She discusses many of the same issues in her books, but from slightly different perspectives. While I have read her other books with interest, "Acedia and Me" is a very sober book that brings many of the issues she has discussed elsewhere into stark focus. The subtitle is "A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life". This is where the onion layers all peel back and we cry with her over the very open and honest journey she takes with her husband that ultimately ends in his death after years and years of illness and depression and discouragement. While she talks of illness and depression in her other books, here she delves deeply into them and studies and examines them in light of the struggles of her own marriage, her husband's illnesses and eventual death, her difficulties in writing, and the struggles of her own search for God's truth."Acedia" from the title, is defined by the author as "at its Greek root it means the absence of care. The person afflicted with acedia refuses to care or is incapable of doing so. When life becomes too challenging and engagement with others too demanding, acedia offers a kind of spiritual morphine: you know the pain is there, yet can't rouse yourself to give a damn." Acedia and depression at first sound synonymous, but again the author offers up her distinction, "I would suggest that while depression is an illness treatable by counseling and medication, acedia is a vice that is best countered by spiritual practice and the discipline of prayer."Kathleen has the temperament that tends toward melancholy and depression. She married a man who also had this personality trait. David, her husband, grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family but became disenchanted with the emotional non-rational faith of his Roman Catholic mother, and left Roman Catholic church to delve into mathematics and rational sciences after his mother's death. A poet with scientific leanings, he also began to bear in his body the results of his depression and melancholy. Kathleen became more interested in her Christian faith as she rediscovered the words and poetry of the Bible. She began pursuing the spiritual practice of the Liturgy of the Hours as practiced by Benedictines. A Presbyterian Christian poet, married to a lapsed Roman Catholic poet, they began years of grindingly difficult cycles of illness / depression / recovery. David was off-put by Kathleen's returning Christian faith, yet he was genuinely thankful for her faith in Christ. Woven all through this book is the spiritual remedy for Kathleen's spiritual struggle with acedia. It is reading the Bible regularly and aloud, primarily through the practice of the Liturgy of the Hours, and prayer. Her struggles are real and she writes very powerfully about them. Her tenacity to cling to the words of the Bible is also very powerful. The Desert Fathers and Mothers believed the words of the Bible were and are true, and thus they had the power to change you. Kathleen believes this also, and demonstrates that while her remedies do not remove the "thorn in the flesh", they are effective in allowing her to have a marriage she and her husband considered to be a blessing, work that she delighted in, and confidence that she was working towards an eternal goal worth attaining.I recommend this book. It was encouraging for me to read, not because I read it and 'felt better at the end' because everything ended up so tidily and nice. It was encouraging because life is messy, and life is hard, and while Christ does redeem and save us, we still have to live each day of our lives in often difficult circumstances that do not "clean up well". For her to have fought for so many years with her depression, to have struggled and worked and wept and rejoiced with her husband through all the years of illness and disease, and to come out on the other side and say "I am thankful to God for his blessings", that is true testimony that the remedy of spiritual practice and the discipline of prayer does indeed work.