Thursday, December 18, 2008

BEN : Three weeks in a psych ward . . . .

Three weeks in a psych ward sounds like paradise to the inner prison that I have lived in most of the last ten years.
      I look for answers only to find more questions. I look for relief only to find more struggle. And in the midst of this I try to tend to the details of being a good man, husband, and father.
      The faith tradition in which I was groomed to lead no longer fit. The people whom I had called my people no longer felt like my people. The organization whose label I proudly displayed and defended was consumed with anger and doubt.
      I felt on the outside, marginalized. I no longer shared the same vocabulary, no longer was moved deeply through the rituals and rites commonly practiced. And even worse was the fact that now that I'd discarded the script. I didn't know what my next line was or even when to enter or exit the stage. The director became invisible and seemingly disappeared.
      I wanted to throw everything away. I wanted to become the antithesis of what I knew to be true.
      For the first time, in the silence, sitting in front of that candle, I separated myself from my tradition. And I realized that I was naked, without a sense of meaning and without a way to articulate the pain and agony of separation and fear of being alone.
      I realized in that moment that nothing of my story was my own. It was filled with the perceptions and insight of the voices of my past. But those voices were silenced by the thousand miles that stood between me and the place where I grew up. And like the early morning before the sun has shone its face, the sound of nothing left me deaf.
      And I didn't know what to do. Just as quick, the thunderstorm of moral obligation filled my mind with a sense of urgency to redefine, reword and rewrite everything. But this new script is not as easily written. For each letter is etched not in the philosophy of someone else but born in the work of life--in my doings.
      From that day forward I have lived with a great sense of doubt. Wondering how close I am to getting it right and how close am I to getting it wrong. And dreading the thought of never knowing the answer.
      I often ponder what it must be like to go through life with no awareness of this other dimension of existence, with no need to orchestrate a symphony of meaning and purpose.
      Each time I sat before the candle and in the midst of the continued silence, the storm raged inside. Looking for relief, I found none. I found no sense of moving toward anything. More often than not I felt as if I was moving away. I'd lost my sense of direction. Maybe this is why Israel walked in circles for 40 years with the Promised Land so close by?
      So, three weeks in a psych ward doesn't sound so bad. At least it had an address.