A Prologue to the Dialog (the Right Beginning for Speaking to my Friends about Fiction) and the Only Holy One to Whom our Explorations Should be Directed
Dear Father, every time that I experience a long season of gray weather inside my mind and sleepwalking throughout the days you have laid before me like an endless line of rooms down a long, dark hallway, I feel the high burden of my own self and my own failure and there is nothing I can do about it, except rage against myself and to find some way to climb back up to you. I don’t engage in this struggle out of a need to prove to myself that I have earned your favor, but rather I struggle up to you because I want you and you are what I feel like I have lost. I have gone many days without reflecting on you and pursuing you like a lover to his loved. And speaking in language this high might seem cheesy to people nowadays, but I don’t care; what I need is you in this moment. And I don’t have you because I fail to see that I do.
How am I supposed to get to you when I don’t have you? How am I supposed to get to you when my prayers are little more than inaudible sighs? Groans of my spirit and of my flesh? For I have gone days of not seeking you, but rather passively going through my labor and the present has sifted through my hands like the passing sand. I have become a bore to myself and I have failed to be grateful for the things in my life. I have failed to explain myself even to myself, or to show myself to you. Instead, I have hidden myself away in some small dark cloister on my own, only I frequently get so scared by my own shadow or the sound of my own breath in that dark silence that I like a damned gyrovague move to another hollow monastery and everywhere I go, I find myself to be alone not with myself but with the uncomfortable silence of your unacknowledged grief for me. You don’t want me to live this way. You want me like any good Christian American to go out and to enjoy the bounty you have put in front of me. But how am I supposed to enjoy so many good things when I know that plenty of people around me are drowning in their own indulgence? For me, it is a difficult thing to tell me to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow I will resurrect, because so many people around me have set a bad example of eating and drinking to push down those nagging questions.
These nagging questions, I will have you know, are not “What is the point?” or even “What is the meaning of all this?” But rather, “Why am I in a position of feeling like I don’t understand and feeling like I cannot see when you have told me the way out and have told me that you have given me sight? Why do I just walk around sleeping, unable to process what you have given me and done? Why do I distract myself and bore myself with cheap entertainment and indulgence, when you have been there the whole time telling me that the purpose of this good material world is not to forget, but to remember their source? And why am I so burdened by the unseen mind? Why does my mind continue to make labyrinths for itself?”
Lord, the answer can be none other than that I have been unfaithful and I have not used my labor and these good things like I should. I have not entered into my labor so thoroughly that I have forgotten the troubles of this world. That is your gift to us, that we can for some moments forget the toils of this world and the frank honesty of our death standing on top of us. And I have forsaken that gift, failed to enter into it and I have therefore since failed to enter into that cycle of forgetting, remembering, forgetting, remembering. All I have is forgetting with the unsaid remembrance of my own lack of success. But compassion burns within your heart for me, your unfaithful wife, and you will relent from the judgment I deserve. For you have set up nature in such a way that I deserve to reap the fruit of darkness when I have sown the seeds of a dim heart. I have been sowing the wind and I deserve to reap the whirlwind. I have been so extremely passive and indulgent—and I have since been unable to rest and to enjoy. This is the dichotomy before me in my heart, but yet even in this moment of clarity I cannot fully understand what I have gotten myself into. I desire to rest and enjoy, but isn’t that the only thing I have pursued? Haven’t I only pursued rest and enjoyment in these gray days?
Father, you know my tendency is not to become depressed and self-obliterating. My tendency rather is to go for a long period of time intentionally not recognizing the signs of my own slow destruction and then waking up one day very angry, because not only am I in a position sliding towards the Assyrians but I am also entirely incapable of making sense of my heart. And if I cannot make sense of how I feel, then how am I supposed to know how to feel rightly? All I can feel in those moments is anger at the world and rage and a desire to set it all on fire.
But Father the only real tool you have given me to set this all to fire is the truth revealed in art. This is the only real labor in which I can forget myself. And I take that as a sign that despite the ability for anyone to enjoy my ramblings, I know that it is here you and I meet. And what else am I supposed to do? I cannot ignore that this is the place I always come back to, to aggressively elucidate some kind of concept or idea that has for a moment allowed me to forsake the problems in which I have been embroiled and then to remember you and you only. In these moments I feel the most clarity, but the most aggressive insanity as if the two went hand in hand. I feel a manic nature that almost overcomes me in its ferocity and its aggression. It takes me and nothing can let me go, not even you Father, until I have come to a place of my own obvious weakness and human condition. And Lord I acknowledge that this is why you have given us art, this is why you have given me dialectic at least (the dialectic of prayer with the almighty who is my intermediary or with that interior shrieking voice which is your holy one in me). I am to use this not to explore my strength and the vast expanses of my understanding, but rather come to the place where I can give no more and I can be nothing else than a finite, dependent creature. This is why we seek, seek, ask of you Lord, to save us, save us from our lack of clarity and the sludge that cascades through our veins and clogs up our hearts with the darkness of self-inflicted wounds of imperception. This is high language and at this moment, I can do no other. Salva me! Or something. We will get through this, straight to the edge of our skin and we will wake up from this blind strength of mind a little more aware of the ways in which we look up to you as a mother weaning a little child. Wean me Lord, and I shall be weaned. Wake us up from our sludgy sleep, that burden heavy on our heads to stay down under the sheets, dead to you and dead to the sunshine blasting through the window.
Lord, what visions have you given to me recently. What have you allowed me to see! What has given me the most joy recently, what idea or concept which I can apply and mold into some experience for someone? What can I give that will replicate the experience of discovery, which is not just revelation or knowledge but awareness of the nature of seen things? What can I give that will allow someone to once again go on their way and enjoy what you have placed before us? Father it can be nothing else but the notions of fiction for which I am so fond. Teach me your ways that I might walk in them and no longer be satisfied with my own road of boredom. Delight us with the ways you play and I like a child who have been weaned will learn to play with you and I can play the same silly metaphysical games that drive the kids mad who try to CONQUER THE GAME, to OPEN EVERY CONTAINER, complete EVERY QUEST, and maybe push the limits of the coding, to fall underneath the map and find themselves in the vast ocean of blue that is nothing but their own inability to suspend their own disbelief, not so that they can give into a lie but so that they can rest within the confines of where they have been rightly placed. You have taught me that I have been placed here not to fall through the map (although it is certainly possible) but that I am supposed to be immersed here. If I fall under the map of your own creation Lord and I was not looking to discover an obvious revelation of structure, Lord let me be grateful to get some vision of the nature of things so that I can also learn how to best test you playfully. Let me for a moment test you and make some claims concerning creation and how I am to do it.