Many of us are collectively experiencing the bitter cold winds of winter these days. A time when our mettle is tested against the long, enduring freezing nights and tundra-like mornings that cause us to flinch and wonder what in the world am I doing here?
Despite the cold I have been venturing forth for long, solitary walks. The other day I found myself walking toward the calling horizon of a yonder shore. I felt an incredible surge of gratitude as I was walking on the river. Yes, on the river – with my eyes focused on its sumptuous, ever-extending white sheath of peacefulness; the mountains in the backdrop as good companions for the journey. There were the poking and peaking little mantras of nature’s ice sculptures along the way: angelic shapes having erupted from below during past melting times. All are reminders for me of the consistent beckoning of beauty all around when I take the time to be at one with my environment.
And yet there was the unfortunate reminder of some parts of what I see as the world gone wrong: skidoos providing the noise pollution, fuel and heavy weight barraging against the winding landscapes destroying the breathing holes of many small animals, thus destroying part of the eco-system and food chain. And what kind of stress do these reverberating clangs have on the nearby forestation, and animal population – the skittish deer, the mournful wolves, and the hungry coyotes? I wonder if it might interrupt the hibernating patterns of bears?
As I made my way along the pathless trek, I realized that in my desire to communion with silence, that I felt at times aggravated instead. I found myself questioning the need to have icy pathways cordoned off so that dozens of snowmobilers could rev up their engines, and spend the afternoon meandering in single-file back and forth, back and forth, from one post to the other. I did question the sense of all of this. And the word sorrow came to mind. I have often been confused and most likely misinterpreted the meaning of sorrow but now I am reflecting differently on its meaning and purpose.
Part of the focus of my doctoral studies is dealing with an ancient dilemma of the soul known as acedia. Acedia can be defined with many a descriptive: restlessness, torpor, and sloth to name a few. It means not to care – and to not care that we don’t care, often nurturing a core cause of anger. I question whether there is a relationship to trauma and identity crisis when we suffer with acedia. Ultimately its anxiety causes a lack of a connection with what some name as God. Others who have different belief systems may refer to God as life itself, or Being – existence. Humanity. Regardless of our religious rhythms, we are not connected to our beauty, our humanity, and ourselves when we are suffering with acedia. And we don’t care that we don’t care.
Much had been written about acedia in the past, but it seems to go for a hiatus every now and then. It has been noted and named as a ‘noon-day demon’ for its presence is rude and bragging, with no care or consideration to who or what is watching. It causes much self-destruction and in turn destruction to our world. Many who suffer from acedia are in denial about their circumstances with the vice. Many are even unaware of its consequences. How can we question and reflect on our responsibility in dealing with this ancient and yet still-ever present and troublesome predicament? How can we find ourselves humble enough to own our own?
Part of my research put me in touch with the historical religious scholar – Thomas Aquinas. Though further reading is by all means necessary, Aquinas reflects on the role of the soul. And when we are soul-diseased the soul is sorrowful. It is not the pain of when we face ego-dilemmas that we are often familiar with when we don’t get our way, or are inconvenienced by many of life’s impediments. It is not the hurt that needs tending to when we have been wounded, and those wounds leave us with gaping holes that obstruct our pathway toward healthy and sustainable relationships. But yet, these may be part of the cause of our distractions, that keep us away from tending to the soul’s cry.
Sorrow is the suffering of the soul, when the soul has no place or space to unfold into her own beauty. And here beauty is represented with modicums of truth and goodness. Beauty becomes an ethic in which we are called to fulfill ourselves in. This has something to do with true purpose and eventually ‘becoming.’
Our souls are created so that we can serve the world, the hungry, the poor, and advocate for the injustices that we see ourselves faced with day-to-day: even along the banks of the snowy-white river.
As I made my way home, I felt deeply pensive about the voice of the soul of Mother Earth. Indeed, she must be sorrowful. For she is mourning her own loss, and the loss of her creation. What will it take to motivate us to be in communion with her cry? My first response is empathy. There is both a Jesus and a Buddha reference about ‘being a light (or lamp) onto yourself.’ I need to own and take responsibility for my divine spark. And shine that light into the darkness of the world – and the snowmobile trails.
I welcome your reflections, comments and encourage conversation, dialogue and contemplation.
Blessings for the journey, and peace on the trails,