Latest blog post – babies, sleep deprivation, motorcycles, philosophy, and Nazis. It’s all here folks.
It’s been a crazy time. Well life is usually quite crazy for us to be fair, but particularly crazy. Our beloved 4 month old son hasn’t been sleeping much, we’ve been surviving (or maybe existing is a better word) on a few broken hours of sleep for well over a month, and it’s taken a heavy toll on all aspects of our life.
Combining the insanity that comes with sleep deprivation, working amongst crazy and chaotic people, and studying theology in a post-modern context does not make for a healthy mental state, and I’ve really struggled over the last month. Nothing was making sense any more, my grades have slipped, my performance at work has been very bad – I feel confused and disillusioned with some of what I’m doing, and I’ve probably not been much fun to live with either.
Last weekend wasn’t great. We had a big celebration planned for Jared’s baptism on Sunday morning, and invited loads of people, and then we came down with the dreaded winter stomach bug and had to cancel at the last minute. Big disappointment, especially after all the effort people had gone to. Despite the pain of having our digestive tracts power-flushed, one interesting thing came of it all – while Jeni was not eating/eating a very limited diet, Jared’s sleep suddenly and drastically improved.
Thankfully, the last two nights we’ve had glorious sleep, and I think that an allergy to foods from the nightshade group coming through in the breastmilk might be causing our little one’s problems. But anyway, this isn’t mums.net so I won’t bore you with the details. Three other things have helped begin to restore my sanity in the last couple of days.
- I finally finished fixing my motorcycle and fitting new bars for a better riding position last week. Yesterday on my lunch break I took it for a spin in the glorious sunshine to get it tested, and getting back on the road was a glorious feeling.
- Using my recovered automotive freedom I decided to swap my office for Dunstable Downs to do my afternoon studying. The sunshine, view and fresh air were just the medicine I needed.
- Reading Bonhoeffer’s Ethics. I LOVE THIS BOOK! If you haven’t heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, take a look around Google, he was a remarkable man, a Lutheran minister imprisoned and executed by the Nazis in WW2 after an assassination attempt on Hitler. For this man, Ethics was an vital and visceral conversation.
From what I’ve read so far, Bonhoeffer’s central message in the book is around unity and re-integration. We live in a world divided, and this down to an intellectual and philosophical level. Our pursuit of reductionist rationalism is leading us into a dead end of Cartesian Anxiety, and Bonhoeffer suggests that in Christ lies the answer – incarnated, crucified, and risen. For someone feeling philosophically disintegrated, this book has helped me pull some of the pieces back together, knowing that it is only in Christ that all my dichotomies and divisions can find a unified home.
I’ll leave you for now with the following poem of Bonhoeffer’s, placed at the beginning of my copy of ‘Ethics’. He wrote it while in captivity in August 1944, shortly before dying at the hands of his Nazi captors. When I first started reading the book, it took me half an hour to get past this poem. I kept reading and re-reading it. And praying through it. And wanting to have it tattooed on my heart. For me, like Bonhoeffer, freedom is the one thing I crave more than anything at the moment. And that freedom is only found in surrender.
Stations On The Way To Freedom
If you set out to seek freedom, you must learn before all things
Mastery over sense and soul, lest your wayward desiring,
Lest your undisciplined members lead you now this way, now that way.
Chaste be your mind and your body, and subject to you and obedient,
Serving solely to seek their appointed goal and objective.
None learns the secret of freedom save only by way of control.
Do and dare what is right, not swayed by the whim of the moment.
Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be.
Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom.
Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living.
God’s command is enough and your faith in Him to sustain you.
Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit amid great rejoicing.
See what a transformation! These hands so active and powerful
Now are tied, and alone and fainting, you see where your work ends.
Yet you are confident still, and gladly commit what is rightful
Into a stronger hand, and say that your are contented.
You were free for a moment of bliss, then you yielded your freedom
Into the hand of God, that He might perfect it in glory
Come now, highest of feasts on the way to freedom eternal,
Death, strike off the fetters, break down the walls that oppress us,
Our bedazzled soul and our ephemeral body,
That we may see at last the sight which here was not vouchsafed us.
Freedom, we sought you long in discipline, action, suffering.
Now as we die we see you and know you at last, face to face.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (trans Neville Horton Smith)