Monday, February 2, 2009

Cast them Out

Yesterday the Reverend at church spoke of the demons inside us and how, though we often think the idea of demons being cast out is archaic and irrelevant, we are failing to see that demons are something other than a "demonic presence." Demons can be anything that consume us - things that take over from the inside out. Like this cavernous space within me that is filled with jealousy, shame and aloneness. She spoke of the need for "the other" which is not a new concept to me. It is one we spent much time focusing on last Fall when reading Volf's, Exclusion & Embrace. But for me, the concept of the demon inside me was made crystal clear as was my exclusion of the other. My closed arms that do not embrace the other and the clarity of what my demons look like for me is still slowly sinking in.

Today I sat in class and listened about pathology, listened about mental health quandaries, realities and diagnoses. I listened and I slipped away. The cloak I often place around me, not of protection but of vulnerability, engulfed me. As I imagine most do, I try to be completely invested in my classes, but today I was so distant. So lost within my head. Oddly after hearing the sermon yesterday and feeling that clarity I was feeling the steps towards freedom were before me - the demons could be exercised - but today there it was, this silent girl who looked like me but held none of my spirit sat there in my place in class.

Was I not once such a spirited girl? How do I reclaim her? How do I open my arms and embrace the other? How do I invest in this world that causes so much ache? Where my mother needs surgery? My sister is given not a child but a struggle? Where loss seems to out weigh, to win? I don't normally feel the weight of a dismal world. That isn't how I view things, but perhaps the pain of others is what is weakening my spirit, distracting my brain. Perhaps the overwhelming nature of knowing my goals feel so far away; graduation, my career, marriage, children. Perhaps the many pieces of the world and my choice to consume them all at once is holding me down.

Yesterday the Reverend also spoke of how sometimes we are summonsed unexpectedly to wake up, to act. She spoke of Martin Buber and while I cannot recall the precise quote she used it reminded me of this one: “The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.” That we need to live a life that is addressed - a life that is lived.

I wonder then, should I act and step out from this cloak, release these fears I hold so tightly, cast out the demons, answer the call that I have been summonsed to, would it change? If I were to TRUST in the truest nature of things - the ones that in the deepest corners of my mind and heart to be true - in the Thou, the very being that cradles the world, would I see? Thou who can wash out the scars, the stains, the hurt and open my eyes to the adventures ahead - the pains ahead, would it be real? The ugliness, the beauty, the believable and the unbelievable. The brokeness, the healed. The things scariest in the world to me. If I set down my guard, could the cloak truly go? Could I be set free? And could I live a life addressed?

That may sound big and convoluted, and as if I am talking about absolutes, which I'm not, but I am talking about trust. About freedom. About letting go and reclaiming my own spirit. About leaving the aloneness. Like what Buber wrote:

"The narrow ridge is the meeting place of the We. This is where man can meet man in community. Any only men who are capable of truly saying 'Thou' to one another can truly say 'We' with one another. If each guards the narrow ridge within himself and keeps it intact, this meeting can take place."

Can the demons be cast out - or will I refuse to let them go?

Martin Buber: "I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience."