In Search of Better Stories

Meditations from an Omicron Induced Depression

It’s a quarter after midnight, and sleep seems unachievable. The tickle in my throat has turned into a cough, and the aches have returned. Omicron is real, it’s ripped through my family, and I’m the caboose in this train of pestilence.

I sit on the couch, looking out the window. What is happening? The snow drops down from the sky, thick and swirling. Vancouver is starting to act like Winnipeg! I hear sirens. Good luck to the victim in need. Our city can’t keep up. It took seven hours for an ambulance to arrive at the Manor last week. We kept calling, but Micheal wasn’t quite as near death as the paramedics needed him to be. Finally, the “I’m pretty sure he is dead now” call captured their attention; within five minutes, they were there, but Micheal wasn’t any longer.

The snow is accumulating fast. The bare tree out front of my window twists and turns in all directions with black arms, but they are coated in white tonight. The angelic covering on these leafless bones has a calming effect.

But not for long.

I’m not really at peace, am I? There is angst in my soul that runs deeper than physical sickness. Do I have soul sickness? Is that a thing?

I watch the movie “Don’t Look Up” It’s a parody of the dumpster fire that seems to be our western world today. The asteroid is on its way. There are only six months until the extinction-level event. Instead of uniting to resist a common threat that is bigger than our own selfish interests, humanity fragments even more. The politicians use this event to get more votes, Social media legends use it to get more likes and subscribers. The capitalists market the asteroid and try to monetize it. The scientists are bought off, sent “off the grid,” or distracted through sexual pleasure and fame. Conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork. Everyone gets mocked for whatever they believe about the asteroid. Entertainers throw huge concerts to build awareness of our collective peril. But most people are not really interested in what they say. Instead, the torrid details of celebrity sex lives are much more captivating. Repeatedly getting drunk, high or laid is all living amounts to, with the question returning to the viewer over and over again “Why not?”

Insanity, hopelessness, and an utter sense of lostness rise up in me as I watch. Is human existence just a tumbled, tangled mess of meaningless experiences? Is it only the powerful that survive and the weak like Micheal who is left to die alone? Are self-interest and pleasure all that matter? Is life itself just a mockery? In my Omicron-induced depression, I feel the sickness of my soul more keenly than ever. It seems that this assessment of reality is the true one, but I don’t want it to be.

The movie suddenly takes a turn. The scientist goes home. He greets his wife at the doorstep with roses and a heartfelt apology for unfaithfulness. She forgives him, confesses her own infidelity, and takes him back. They join their friends around a common table to enjoy a final meal together. This is it. What can be said? In a matter of moments, they will be vaporized. They join hands, share memories, and talk of good food and coffee. The house begins to shake. It won’t be long now.

“Should we pray?” Queries one
“Religion is not my thing,” says another
“I don’t really know how,” says a third

Then the young skateboarder with the long hair and rebellious spirit speaks up. He reassures his tablemates, “I got this.”

Turns out he is the wayward son of evangelical parents. He has long since rejected organized religion, but the story of God has always remained strong in him. In a film full of mockery comes the one genuine moment. The one burst of sanity amid insanity. The one bit of beauty in the middle of chaos.

Dearest father and almighty creator
We ask for your grace tonight despite our pride
Your forgiveness desire our doubts
Most of all, Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times.
May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance
Amen

I wait for the shoe to drop. Where’s the joke? Where’s the punch line? It doesn’t come.
The boy’s girlfriend leans over and kisses him.

“Beautiful,” she says.

A few seconds later, they are obliterated. But they meet their violent end buttressed with the calming effects that come from this ancient love story that somehow continues to linger on.

Could it be true?

The Christian religion might just be true simply because it is beautiful. The Christian religion didn’t last so long merely because everyone believed it. It lasts because it makes for a helluva novel — which is pretty close to Tolkiens claim that the gospel is true because it is the most fantastic fantasy, the greatest fairy story ever told.

P 26, How Not To Be Secular

The world is a mess, Micheal is gone, I’m sick with Omricon, and some type of soul sickness. But it seems to me that the greatest calming effect I can hope for still comes to me in the form of this ancient love story. The skateboarder dude, amid the swirling mess of confusion and despair, is on to something.

  

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2 Responses

  1. Wow, Dennis. I think this is my favourite post of yours, ever. It’s beautiful. It’s Good News. So sorry you are not feeling well, but what a post you have crafted out of your afflictions. And I REALLY want to see that movie (maybe we need to sign up for Netflix).

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