One of my favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival songs says it all. In the song Fortunate Son, John Fogarty’s unmistakable voice wails, “When we ask them ‘How much should we give,’ they only answer ‘more, more, more.’” Seems like everyone wants more, and they want it from me. I get all kinds of phone calls and mailings and other appeals for support for all kinds of things.
A lot of these things are good, worthy causes and deserve to be supported. I wish I could give to all of those. Many of these things are shady or political in nature or are at least trying to sell me something I don’t need or want. I’d like to banish the shameless perpetrators of these hoaxes and false appeals to outer darkness – or at least to someplace where the only people they have to talk to is each other.
Everyone wants more from me when I have less to give. I wish money was all they wanted. The hardest appeals are the ones that ask me for time, personal investment, emotional commitment and ultimately a piece of my soul.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve made many personal commitments and I’m glad that I made most of them. Still, even the commitments that you’re grateful for take something away from you. It requires a reservoir of personal energy, love and faith to answer them. Some days you feel like the reservoir is in serious danger of running dry without a raincloud in the sky to replenish it.
Someone is saying, right about now, “Come on, Mitch - you’ve got to have faith. You’ve got to believe that things are going to be OK.” Well, I get that. It doesn’t change the fact that some days are dry as a desert and silent as a graveyard. Some of my friends of faith would say that being in the metaphorical desert or graveyard means that I’ve lost my focus on God or that I’ve allowed my priorities to shift from where they should be. Some would say that if I remained totally focused on God and aligned with divine priorities, there would be no sand and silence.
I’m not a perfect person. There are times that I have indeed allowed priorities to get skewed or have lost some degree of focus. You don’t live as long as I have and not have that happen. Still, I have to say to those friends of the faith who would scold me because of these feelings of emptiness: “I love you – now get outta my face!”
I mean really – it’s part of the human condition to sometimes feel mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained or exhausted. At least it’s part of my human condition. I’ll admit to being somewhat moody or even prone to some degree of depression. There are probably multiple causes of this particular state of being. There may be multiple ways to move through it. Do not, however, give me simple pietistic platitudes and expect me to immediately experience some Damascus Road event or, Lord help me, “snap out of it.” The only people who “snap out of it” are the people who never really were dealing with the issue to begin with. For the rest of us, snapping out of it is not an option.
The only way to get out of the desert is to walk through it. The only way out of the graveyard is to experience a rebirth. Neither happens quickly, as far as I can tell. It takes a strong degree of patience, personal will, love and yes, faith, to make it to happen. For those who are on the outside of the process, thank you for your love and concern. Please, however, don’t think you understand where I am or where anyone is who might be dealing with the empty silence. Perhaps you have been through the desert – but not my desert. You may have wandered in the graveyard, but the markers and monuments you’ve seen are not the ones I read and contemplate. When I reach the boundaries of the wasteland, I’ll know it and I’ll be glad that you’re there waiting for me. In the meantime, please allow me (and anyone else who may need it) the time to make the journey through.
We might even be better people when we reach the other side.