Lent is a special time for the church community. It's is a season that asks us to walk the pathway of the cross in order to experience the gospel - pain and suffering...and joy and resurrection - together and whole! Lent doesn't flinch from real life, rather it invites us into the very crucial and meaningful "stuff" of life.
In the spirit of Lent, I invite you to grapple and engage with this passage from Infinite Jest - the great American novel by David Foster Wallace. This is the confession of a recovering alcoholic as he grapples with the 3rd of 12 steps outlined in Alcoholic Anonymous - Turning your disease over to God as you understand Him:
"Gately, up at the podium, revealed publicly about how he was ashamed that he still as yet had no real solid understanding of a Higher Power. He says when he tries to go beyond the very basic rote automatic get-me-through-this-day-please stuff (prayer), when he kneels at other times and prays or meditates or tries to achieve a Big-Picture spiritual understanding of a God as he can understand Him, he feels Nothing - not nothing but Nothing, an endless blankness that somehow feels worse than the sort of unconsidered atheism he came in with. The God-understanding stuff kind of makes him want to puke, from fear. Something you can't see or hear or touch or smell: OK. All right. But something you can't even feel? Because that's what he feels when he tries to understand something to really sincerely pray to. Nothingness. He says when he tries to pray he gets this like image in his mind's eye of the brainwaves or whatever of his prayers going out and out, with nothing to stop them, going, going, radiating out into like space and outliving him and still going and never hitting Anything out there, much less Something with an ear. The whole idea of this whole God thing makes him puke, still. And he is afraid."
Now, I'm tempted to share how Foster Wallace comments on Gately's struggle. But, in the spirit of Beggars Table, I prefer to first invite anyone and everyone to comment on the passage...perhaps sharing if you ever identify with Gately...and perhaps what you would say to Gately, if you could. Feel free to respond!!