Excess and Lust

I came to Ohio this week to do a few days of work. It’s a strange and bizarre business that I am in, working long 14 hour days. Weird rains and warm winds have invaded this part of the country, and for a while it felt as though I was not in the Midwest but perhaps in some tropical locale, where the constant rains and warm temperatures gave a dream-like ambiance to an entire existence.

I would awake early in the mornings and enter this odd world, where the rain fell not in tiny droplets but big puddles, and it splattered everywhere, getting on everyone. Everything was soaking it seemed, and the world had become something of a watery life, as if a unique film that was created under extreme conditions. Working under such conditions, in terribly bad lighting and ventilation, gave way to odd thoughts and conversations with fellow workmen, with little breaks for sitting, I would steal away ten or five minutes out of every two hours to run to the tent that was set up to read through the Religious History, and jot down a few notes on thoughts pertaining to excess and lust.

The few moments that life afforded me throughout the workday to break into solitude and quite observance of things aloft and much more higher then the worldly, gave me both strength and anxiousness; at times thinking of how despairing we creatures of the Earth are, in order to feed our daily bodies, and yet how low we bring ourselves to meaningless chores in order to provide for our own survival.  There was something both terrible and beautiful about it; the suffering of it all.

Talking with several men and women about our lives I came to see the suffering of it all much closer then I ever thought.  The terrible state of our nations economy has forced many who once lived a life of lust and excess to come much closer to reality, and at times shown the horrendous consequences, and sometimes allowed others to realize the tradgedy of forgetting those in need.

Under this economy some who once held high posts have fallen.  Those who flew to close to the sun, their wings have melted.  Others, who silently sighed and prayed and worked, and still remain on the bottom, can only see the new-found exhaustion on their faces, and bare with them the daily struggle.   And again society is begining to understand the value of decent work, and that charity and compassion are needed in this society, perhaps more then ever.

When people are out of hope, those who were not charitable and compassionate are begining to ask, “who would care for me when I lose my job? Who would feed me when I cannot find food?  Who would help me when I cannot find shelter?”

It is in such times when we can look back at the Desert Fathers and understand a few things much more clearly.  These men and women did not chose to wear the same cloaks for their entire lives to punish themselves.  They wore what they had and only what they needed because they understood that if they had anything else but the clothes they needed, those clothes could be worn by those who do not have them.   They chose to eat small doses of food because the extra food that they did not eat could be used to feed the poor.  They chose to ubstain from lust and excess because those energies and those bounties were all things that did not naturally belong to them, and to take use of excess meant to take away from others, and to take use of lust mean to betray ones own moral sense of compassion.

These are lessons we must take with us.

Finally though, these long days of work are over.  I am looking forward to finally begin publishing more of my essays on asceticism, which should be coming this whole week.

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~ by alexmalina on March 9, 2009.

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