As I mentioned in a recent post, I only read a few early chapters in Acedia & me, by Kathleen Norris, before I had to return it to the library. However, I found myself pondering some of her words.
For example, she wrote, “The difficult thing about days is that they must be repeated” (p. 12*).
Acedia, it seems, struggles with the sameness and repetitiveness–the apparent meaningless–of day after day after day.
It reminded me of a passage from Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton. For all I know, she may quote from it later in Acedia & me; I don’t have her book here to confirm. But Chesterton, too, considers the repetitiveness of days, especially in nature. He’s addressing the premise of the modern mind–that if a thing goes on repeating itself, it is probably dead, like a piece of clockwork. He argues:
The sun rises every morning…to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.
He expands on this with striking analogies and suggests how God may view the repetition of days that we human adults may consider boring or monotonous:
The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again,” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again,” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. (p. 37, Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton)
“Do it again!”
God never tires of repeating the daisy-making or sunrise. He exults in His creation.
And I’m a little part of that. I don’t know if I’m appropriately applying Chesterton’s thoughts or not, but I keep thinking about how God never tires of me, either. He never tires of listening to my prayers or praise. It’s as if He encourages me to say these things to Him, to keep it up. “Do it again, Ann!”
And I think of the repetition of our lifelong walk with the Lord. Day after day, my walk with Jesus can feel something like the half-marathon I completed one year. I really did feel that toward the end I needed to tell my feet, “Come on, another step–Do it again!” Likewise, I must remind myself to stay close to the Lord. Day after day. “Do it again!” Get up. Talk with Him. Read His Word. Pour out your heart to Him again. And again. Do it again!
And to my friends and family: Keep going, take another step, and another. Keep in step with the Spirit. Today. Tomorrow. The next day. The next. Do it again!
In winter, when the days are shorter and I (not a morning person) have a greater chance at catching a sunrise, I sometimes look out across the roof of our neighbor’s house and think of Chesterton’s example of the sunrise–God saying, “Do it again!”
I suppose we could speak it back to the Lord, just as He may speak it to the sun and the seasons. We, too, can shout it out, like children asking Him to repeat this astonishing thing, be it a moment when I grasp some truth that changes me, or when I sense His strength to obey or resist temptation, when I share a moment of joy with another believer or peace with a friend. “Again, Lord! Please! Do it again!”
I think of the sunset I saw the other night, luminous. I think of the geese shooting north, like three arrowheads. I am a child again.
“It’s so good, Lord! Encore! Do it again!”
* Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, by Kathleen Norris, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group USA, Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, USA, copyright 2008