Thursday, May 1, 2008

Beyond Blue: Kathleen Norris on Sloth and the Weary Soul

Therese Borchard of Beyond Blue reports:

I’ve always understood sloth, one of the seven deadly sins, as laziness. But Christian author Kathleen Norris helped me understand the “sin” in a much broader context, and one that’s intertwined with depression. (Not that depression is a sin. I want to make that clear) Here are some excerpts from her article in Christian Century entitled “Falling into Sloth” about her year in the wasteland.

I’ve had plenty of chances to laugh at myself in the last year. Once, when I was sunk so deep in lethargy and sloth that there seemed no end in sight, an interviewer termed me "a docent of hope." How comical, to be reminded that the books I churned out over the past ten years--"Dakota," "The Cloister Walk," "Amazing Grace" and "The Virgin of Bennington"--were out there in the world, proclaiming good news while I sat stupefied, unable to write even a postcard.

The disparity was grim, but funny: God's grace working despite my weakness, or maybe because of it. I was tempted at times to regard myself and my work as a fraud. But then I realized I could be a fraud only if I bought into the myth of celebrity. By that I mean the notion that people who write books on spirituality do so because they've got it all figured out. They have somehow "succeeded" at the spiritual life. Once a journalist titled an interview with me, "Woman Finds Peace in Monastery." A monk who had seen the piece commented, "How did you do that? I've been here for 40 years, and I've never found peace."

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