Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 24, 2004
Beware the lure of the Noonday Devil
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
When you're lonely and left out, sadness and cynicism are easily passed off as depth.
But how can this be sin? Isn't what we're feeling simply a sense of our own mortality, a nostalgia for the infinite, the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, an effect of beauty itself?
Sadness isn't the sin, but it can be precisely the devil that tempts us towards sin. Like Hamlet, we can unhealthily luxuriate in sadness so as to rationalize making no further efforts to build up anything. Perhaps that's why the Church eventually called this sloth.
I remember as an adolescent in high school, watching and re-watching Hamlet. He was a hero for my wounded adolescence, someone bright enough to understand the disappointment of exclusion, sensitive enough to feel what's wrong with everything, and witty and enigmatic enough to bring down the world to its hypocritical knees. Hamlet was just the ticket for my hyper-sensitive, lonely, adolescent years. I embraced his sadness like a religion. When you're lonely and left out, sadness and cynicism are easily passed off as depth.
It's taken many years to let go of my fascination with Hamlet and the immature attraction for standing outside the circle.
A child of the kingdom, like Hamlet, is indeed saddened by the unfair state of things. She is also regularly smitten by the "noonday devil." Old songs on the radio, reunion parties, half-forgotten lullabies, and that hyper-restless energy that so often permeates weddings and large gatherings can still send her into a lonely tailspin, a free-fall into a depression without an excuse, nursing darkness under the noonday sun.
But, and this is the difference, after the letting the desert do its work, after giving the "noonday devil" his due, unlike Hamlet, the child of the kingdom again turns up her music, picks up her wineglass and friends, her tools and duties, her hopes and her prayers, and continues, in joy, despite all that's wrong, the dance of the resurrection.
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