Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder

By Dave Henning / July 29, 2013

There is a huge difference between illuminating distractions (divine interruptions) and distractibility.  So often we become tangled in veils of inattention, apathy, and fatigue that blind us to God’s “witnessing presence”- the veils of spiritual disarray.  Leighton Ford continues Chapter 6 of The Attentive Life by describing 4 such veils.  The first two are covered today.

1.  Sheer fatigue– the author notes that someone once said that the world is run by tired people.  Mr. Ford adds that this weariness comes not only from the daily demands of life but from the “constant, demanding , draining drumbeat” of our inner voices.  When we finally stop, or are stopped, do we realize how much we’ve been missing because our brain has been too weary to stop, look, and take everything in?

2.  Apathy–  defined by Leighton Ford as an attitude coming “not just from physical or mental fatigue but from a soul-weariness, rooted in either a profound wound or in shear frustration with life and the world.”  The early church fathers used the word acedia to reflect a sluggish, moody soul with a distaste for spiritual things.  A 4th century monk called acedia the “noonday demon”.  Contemporary writer Deborah Smith Douglas describes acedia as “the sin of the long haul”, occurring when we’re worn out by our interminable journey through a wilderness that seemingly has no end.

According to the ancient writers, the antidote to acedia and apathy is twofold: (1) do the opposite of what you feel; (2) recommit to attend to the job at hand, to prayer, and to humility.

Today’s question: What role has acedia played in your desert, transition time?  What do you think of the antidote?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder- Part 2”

About the author

Dave Henning

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