Monday, July 11, 2005

Grace for the Petty Schizophrenic

I’ve been wondering and unsettled. Moving from one thing to the next, scared that if I let more than 5 minutes laps without productivity I will fall back into my natural habit of slothfulness. I find that when I do not know what to do with myself I find things to do. Stay busy. Stay harried. Fill in the void with pure manual labor—that builds character I hear. When I lose grip on life I start doing petty things to cling to the fruit of my labors. Petty things like fold laundry with particular creases in particular places, or sweep my floors for the 6th time this month when two times would have sufficed. I’ll make dinner for myself using as many utensils, plates, and bowls as possible and then wash them just to see that I have done something—two somethings really…made dinner and cleaned the dishes.

My most recent impulse might well be the most life saving side-track of productivity ever. It is thirty pages long with an introduction of 2 pages and a title and copy right page taking up 2 before that—so really it is only 26 pages. I just got it in the mail today. Published in 1910. Looks fun. And, hey, if I sit down to read it now I can say that I read a whole book in one sitting and I wouldn’t even be lying. What a sense of personal accomplishment!

That is what I was thinking as I read the introduction by one Dr. John Angus MacVannal. I should have know by the heartiness of the man’s name that I was in for a confrontation with substance, but I did not think that through. And then I got to the line, “What we love we live”. The impetuous impulse vanished, the hunger emerged. It was then that I actually stopped to think about the title of this small book I held in my hands—“The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”. I knew I was doomed, or at least my bout of schizophrenic-egotistical-harried-habitual-impulse-to-petty-productivity was doomed:

“The heart must have something to cling to, and never, by its own voluntary consent, will it so denude itself of all its
attachments that there shall not be one remaining object that can draw or solicit it.”

Chalmers goes on to talk about how we belabor ourselves with pleasurable sensations and petty indulgences that we grow tired and numb to any sensation at all. The genuine longings of our heart then become either lost in a mess of overbearing excess or indistinguishable from the affections of our self-sufficiency. My heart had lunged out once again to find that one thing to side track and numb, and true to grace that one thing, this time, has brought me to repentance and contentment.

1 comment:

Kermit & Electra said...

Is this book still in print?
What does he say is THE affection upon which to pin our hopes and cultivate in our hearts? Or how do we drive out the self-affections and get our heart filled with affection for God,a dn thus our neighbour?
~K.