existential anxieties

I had a dream of all my failings. Failings and rejections. Failures of place, relationships, motivation, of moving forward. The drudgery of living.

Depression of winter or melancholy of the uphill battle? Therapy seems to be a distraction within the absurdity of living–how things are an how things ought to be. It is said courage and wisdom are virtues for the Christian because it is seeing how the world is and working on making it how it ought to be. Of course, grace is the divine element needed.

Here is a very limited way of understanding life’s progression: a child, discovery and wonder of the world and all things around the child; in your twenties, understanding a little more about yourself and interests, wants and needs, and the confusion of it all; thirties, aiming toward and nearly accomplishing a goal you set out on in career or family; forties, uncertainty, possible discontent, having met some goals but some seem arbitrary or regret of goals rejected or unfulfilled–the “now what?”

In your late thirties and early forties observing youth reminds of the wonder and beauty of the world, maybe the naivety of how the world is–youth, at least children is a reminder of how the world ought to be. Those in their twenties are still learning the way of existence, some melancholy sets in or just recklessness and aiming toward an ideal. Then ideals are shattered. Isn’t that grace though? Seeing the reality of the way things are.

Is the rest of existence a learning to see? See reality. But also the vision of things through the lens of faith, hope, and love (the theological virtues). Didn’t Jesus say to be as shrewd as snakes and gentle as doves? Meaning don’t be taken advantage of, be wise, but show compassion and grace.

Just some musings and ramblings…

exile

Exile: is a kind of hell or purgatory depending on its sentence. Remembering what once was, regrets, things done and left undone, sins, haunt the whole self: mind and body. Dreams haunted with accusations, unrest, reminders of past happiness, past sins, reminded of rejecting what had been offered, ignoring exhortation, confused how things were, blind to understanding everything outside of self. Led to rejecting and wanting to run away from everything. Driving the escape and the salvation. Driving 7000 miles. Bringing the broken, shipwrecked self along … a respite at the same time from stresses and distresses of familiarity.

Ever-seeking home. Elusive home. Waylaid, lost at sea, no place to return to, seeking renewed shores. The burden of freedom and making one’s own meaning an unbearable weight. Providence, a comfort, not a cage. Salvation or damnation not determined, yet in the midst of a shipwrecked person, even a shipwrecked world, Being cares and works within the world through grace– sending signs, angels, his will in embodied people. I have no answers, except I AM orders what has become disordered. The One Incarnated started the unravelling of the world and its disorder.

Although exiled, my own hope finite and failing; but teleological hope reminds of the divine plan to right all wrongs through a fiery love that consumes and renews all things. Exile, a state for now, until the Last Day. Until I can see.

thoughts on meaning

I sit in a cafe to stifle despair. Assaulting the cortex with caffeine to stimulate further thought and distraction from reflective despair of self. Is everything a distraction from self? From a past that is over? From the realization that my community has shrunk to almost nil. I am like a Karamozov brother whose isolation diminishes his world, his influence, presence shrinking, while Alyosha’s world and Zossima’s expands by the grace of God. Alyosha grieves for his brother, continues to love him and seeks to pull him out of his despair. This is what divine love is and what friendship is, a continual presence to those who are lost, in despair, those who suffer, to shine a light, to extend a hand like the hand of Christ at the resurrection depicted in the icon.

The existentialist finds a hope in a cosmos without a God or Creator in creating one’s own path or fate. Setting goals, finding one’s own telos. Realizing one’s own finitude, yet striving on seeking a flourishing in the midst of a finite universe and existence. Creating one’s own meaning. But this too is despair, for me at least. Kierkegaard sees the self that is in relation to God as the only existence one is not in despair. I think he is correct in this assertion. Otherwise I am in cognitive dissonance if all is finite and there is nothing that is infinite, no God. The burden of being responsible for one’s own subjective freedom is crushing. I cannot happily push my despair and melancholy up the hill to have it roll down continuously. I can suffer well. I’d rather not, but what brings meaning to suffering is Christ’s suffering, the cross the affliction but also the redemption because of the resurrection. The infinite entered this broken finite world–that is our hope. But our hope lies in the renewal of this mess not its entropy and destruction.

Each day brings a vacillation of slight joy or despair or something neutral. Would living elsewhere alleviate any of this? Potentially. But one brings oneself wherever one goes. After an initial excitement, feelings will vacillate as well. Time away temporarily helps renew as well, until the next burn out. Sisyphus continues to push the rock up the hill. Life a seemingly monotonous repetition, with some pleasantness, some despair, some joy, and repeat in all kinds of variations.

Kierkegaard thought his age was too self reflective. I think we are in that same boat in this age. But it depends on the person. Self reflection has its uses, but it can paralyze too. We want someone we trust to tell us what to do, someone wise. We, alone, only know so much.

Paralysis …

the rock and the hill

Sisyphus pushes the rock up the hill

at the top he is conscious of the absurd

the absurdity that life is repetition, suffering,

a monotony

but realizes there is no orchestration that is outside himself

but he creates his own fate

therefore Sisyphus content to create his own meaning

he, happy in the monotony and repetition,

controller and creator of his meaning.

If there is no God or gods, no design

to imagine to be happy in a meaningless repetition is despair,

at least to me. I create my own happiness amidst a world of suffering

all I can do is distract momentarily and fall right into despair once again

or worse, distract from the suffering with endless pleasure, which quickly becomes despair.

The Copenhagen philosopher found a life committed to the aesthetic, a life of despair;

also the ethical …

It was only in the religious life that one finds full meaning and is not in despair, though one suffer.

The one isolated by his own shame, ennui, acedia

stuck, a vision of eudiamonia lost, gazing upon a field of fog,

still has hope when the infinite entered the finite world, suffered with us– giving meaning to suffering,

redeeming wretched trauma.

The story ends after man creates his own fate. But only if we are finite.

If there is a God, this life of purgatory has meaning toward redemption, ever calling us home. The finite desiring the infinite but only finding it in the infinite, not the finite. God, the infinite, although incarnate, suffered with us, knows us, calls us, beckoning us each moment to turn toward God. The journey, the rock, ever pushed, but also constant turning toward or away from the infinite.

Are we to believe Sisyphus to be happy ever pushing the rock up the hill? To create our own fate? Or are we to ever push the rock, yet ever seek to gaze upon a God who created us, gives us the freedom to do God’s will or our own or to match our will to God’s … which is freedom? Freedom is a heavy weight to the atheistic existentialist; solely our responsibility.

Freedom in Christ, less of a burden– “My yoke is easy, my burden light.”

Poetry on Kindle

A year ago I published a book of poetry. The trajectory is Dantean: descent, ascent to transfiguration. It is now available on Kindle. Descent, Ascent, Transfiguration – Kindle edition by Dudek, C. N.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

buy it today on Kindle or paperback

Descent, Ascent, Transfiguration- Wipf and Stock Publishers

Also available: Beyond the Veil- Wipf and Stock Publishers

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Beyond the Veil: Enter the Temple, Enter Heaven – Kindle edition by Dudek, C. N.. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

fire and its remains

through the destructive fires

what remains?

it was your hand — a madness

stripping away preconceptions, ego, prejudices, pride,

revealing virtues fruitless excuses

vices grip, revelation of sins destruction.

sobbing, lamenting

filling tear jars, overflowing.

This existence a purgation

to step through the flames at death

“redeemed from fire by fire.”

wall of flame an apocalypse,

the good led by grace remains,

gold reshaped, but the straw burned away.

spheric song

Look! Look up at the dome of night.

the nuclear fires

burning bright.

modern man seeks

no solace in heavens

dancing—

it is dark, vacuous, cold

an abyss.

spheric song, silent.

nature a danger,

a mother abandoning her child.

Sister moon, dancing stars

set in twilit blue hue.

Saint sees

glory in all created things.

Holy Spirit brooding

over jeweled blue earth

stars and galaxies, nebula

echoing the song of

its Maker,

Creator.

Look! Look up at the dome of night.

holiday

I like when a good amount of the world,

maybe half

slows down and spends a holiday

taking Sabbath whether one knows it or not.

We take Sabbaths unawares.

celebrate in different ways,

but rest from toil.

we,

the religious

unaware.

advent

in the quiet, in the silence

candles burn

flame like spirits, pure light, hovering on the wick.

quietly.

waiting for the arrival.

turmoil then; turmoil now

awaiting the second coming.

speak in the silence

as we cry out to you

your advent our hope, our joy, our peace.

a new day

Easier being a gnostic

enlightened,

death a relief

an escape from a hurting world

a broken vessel.

Fortitude the virtue of being Christian

no guarantee of success in this life

suffering the guaranteed.

To walk with Christ

painful, not a seeking of suffering–

this world, existence throws it at you.

Mystery to suffering, at times our own sin, our fall,

at times others,

some say fate,

mostly an unknown

but instead of despair, the unforgivable, the abyss–

comfort in knowing Christ suffered and suffers alongside

a beauty, a chipping away of stone

to make the new creature,

to make the New Creation,

A New Day comes by suffering

it will come in joy and beauty

an unnecessary good.