(Illustration from Blake's Book of Job)
The Song of Abject Disconsolation
(with apologies to Job 3)
"Why is light given to one in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
my hope and anticipation was palpable, but it did not come,
and now I am utterly eviscerated;
I would rejoice exceedingly,
if you would just shoot me now, Lord, and get it over with.
Why is light given to one who cannot see the big picture,
whom God has fenced in with a stubborn mind?
For my sighing comes like my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
Truly the thing I have hoped for has been snatched from me,
and now emptiness befalls me.
No food, no movie, no liquor makes me at ease or quiet;
I have no rest and no consolation; but disconsolation comes."
Once again, my blogging pal Elizabeth threw down the gauntlet and, of course, I could not resist picking it up. Her large and quite blended family always celebrates Christmas sometime during the season of Epiphany--"Little Christmas" is what I believe she calls it. The plans were for all to meet up in Massachusetts. She had already started making all the delightful dishes her kids and Ms. Conroy's kids love and look forward to eating.
Then Mother Nature had other plans and dumped eight inches of snow on the NE Corridor.
She was grousing a bit on Facebook, and I said I ought to come up with a Song of Abject Disappointment to go with the Song of Impatience I did a while back. Her suggestion was it should be a Song of Abject Disconsolation, because it sounds more Anglican. I had to agree there.
Well, within 20 minutes I had put the above together. (I don't know why, but there's just something that goes, "Whirr...click click click...ding!" in my brain when I get challenged to parody something close to me. I know it irks a few folks when I parody the Bible or the BCP--but I am not worried about my immortal soul on that one. I'm pretty certain God gets a chuckle.) Of course, nothing screams "disconsolation" like the Book of Job.
Really, it was therapeutic. I have both a long relationship and a long non-relationship with "disconsolation." I can go from zero to despair in 30 seconds at times. But I realize for me, it's a sign of my recovery. Somewhere down the line I had learned to be numb to disappointment and disconsolation. There's a place, I think, when people you love continually make promises and continually break them, because of their addictions, or when they say "I'll help you" and they just push you down in the mud because they're psychologically sick, and they choose to pass the sickness down the line rather than allow it to be transformed, that a lot of us simply quit feeling it, because it hurts too damn much and it slows things down.
But when I became numb to that, I also became numb to the power of joy. I became numb to the good will and actions of the people who tried to be supportive of me, and blind to their loving kindness. I became numb to trusting God and trusting others. I became numb to the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, God has something better in mind.
In short, certain kinds of disconsolation rendered me numb to the potential of transformation in a way just as deep, just as piercing, as the hurt was.
So now I understand that I have to feel it. When I began to have deep feelings again on a more regular basis, it was very difficult at first. Sometimes it felt like being attacked with knives. But I have come to understand, that when disconsolation shows up on my doorstep, I have to go through my awful morose-ness, and like Job's friends, I have to put up with my well-meaning friends telling me to stop it. It feels so empty for a spell--not a numb kind of empty, but a probing, deep form of empty.
But then one day, somewhere down the line, when I'm not looking, hope springs up, green and beautiful, like catching a glimpse of the first crocus of spring. Then I look at it and go, "Huh. Well, I'll be damned." Then I laugh long and hard, and rejoice, and say, "Oh, you're such a putz sometimes. You had given up on this happening."
Disconsolation is a crappy houseguest. It eats the last piece of cheesecake in your fridge, leaves crumbs on the coffee table, and doesn't change the TP roll in your bathroom. I'm not even sure it flushes. But it only stays as long as you feed it.