Acedia: The Noonday Demon
Yesterday I wandered through the day from expectation to expectation, duty to duty, desire to desire, task to task, and distraction to distraction. At the end of the day I found that I had done a few good things and nothing obviously evil. But through the day I did not feel very connected with God and was hardly aware of Him or His activity around me and in me.
I long to live Alive. I long to experience more life with a capital L: Divine Life. I long to Live Jesus! The Daily Examen helps. The Divine Hours help. Fasting helps. They jab me awake. And I Live. But I long for more.
What would it have been like to walk the shores of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem as a disciple and friend to Jesus of Nazareth? Surely Peter and John, Andrew and Phillip were fully alive as they lived daily life with Jesus Himself. So how could Jesus have been serious when He said to them, It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. (John 16:7)
Jesus pointed to the life I have the opportunity to live with the Holy Spirit and said that would be better than what Peter and the disciples experienced.
I must be missing something. I must be sleepwalking through many days. The Holy and Living Spirit of Jesus is here with me and in me to do what Jesus did for the disciples. But I am often unaware.
The church fathers called this spiritual dullness Acedia. It is an ancient word for a very contemporary affliction. Acedia is the opposite of what Leighton Ford describes in his book The Attentive Life: Discerning God¹s Presence in All Things.
At times I am attentive and fully alive and filled with His Spirit, and my heart sings. But that feeling often passes by 9:00 AM and what the desert fathers called the Noonday Demon afflicts me. And I wander through the day. I long for more. I long for more of that Abundant Life that Jesus promised.
My next step in my journey into Abundant Life is to type up these thoughts from my journal and share them with others who might be experiencing similar longings and share with me what they are learning as they journey out of acedia into the Abundant Life.