Underlife

This week I came across a quote which grabbed me.  I read it, and re-read it, and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  So I wanted to share it here with you.  Read it slowly, and read it several times.

“It is late evening. We are alone, perhaps for the first time since we awoke. Bits and pieces from the day dart in and out of our consciousness. Little desires and fears for tomorrow scatter us further. The more that rushes through our minds, the more complicated and anxious life seems. Maybe TV will help settle us down—or the newspaper—or some work—or a big snack. Less seems to gnaw at us then. Life stays put for a moment. We feel in control again; we’re ‘doing’ something. Anything.

The aftereffect of the doing leaves us less anxious, but more drugged. We’ve exchanged a gnawing anxiety for a dulled sensibility. Maybe, at least, we can sleep now. We do, on the surface. But not below. Our dreams are troubled. Fragments of life whir round and round without a center. We wake tired, and struggle out for another round.

You and I likely share an “underlife.” It usually is bearable; it even seems “normal,”  out of sheer habit. Sometimes it is even fun. But it is usually unfulfilling. We are grown  for more than that. When this becomes most clear, when the whole daily round feels most wearisome, we hear ourselves crying out in the psalmist’s lament:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

How long will, must I tromp through this dense jungle half crazed and blind before the clearing appears?”

–Tilden Edwards, Living Simply Through the Day

Did you see yourself in this description of life?  I found myself in these words.  And I could hear God’s reply in the silence in which I read them: “hold on…the clearing is just ahead.”

Peace to you,

James

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2 thoughts on “Underlife

  1. As I thought about this quote again just now, something struck me. This “underlife” is the life that we are called to die to, not our “awesome” really cool fun life of selfishness. (Although those are probably the same still.)

    We should want to die to it, since it’s kinda like being dead anyway. When we really see that “life” for what it is, we can realize that is sucks.

    Enter the resurrection of the Messiah. Through the resurrection of Jesus we get “eternal life,” a life filled with the Spirit. A life worth living; a life full of purpose.

    Much better.

    • That’s deep, my friend, and something I hadn’t thought about. Wow. I love our Tuesday morning sessions, and how it fuels my week. And even things from previous weeks are still percolating in my mind. I’m hoping that my “underlife” dies this year, and just as you wrote, the life (resurrection) of Messiah springs up to replace it.

      Peace,
      James

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