Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Following Yonder Star

Happy Epiphany, everybody! (Well, okay, everybody but the Orthodox folks, who have a couple more weeks to go on that....)

I went to church last night. There'd been a little mixup on who should cantor when, so I ended up singing with the kids. It was fun, but pretty cramped; the nativity scene is over to the side of the altar...on the same side where the piano is. Nine people jammed into the space between a piano and the Christmas trees around the stable. Plus music stands. Plus microphones. I was craning my neck and straining my eyes to read off the hymnals in front of me, because there literally wasn't enough room to hold up my own book. If I add that I didn't get to go to Confession because of being slowed by the rain, and that my (fortunately black) pants were still not completely dry from being drenched with rain on the way to church (despite my trenchcoat)...I bet you'll think I was miserable.

Actually, though, it was the best thing to happen all day. I've been oscillating between depression and just plain unhappiness for most of the last few weeks. I keep having trouble sleeping, and the furnace in my building had my apartment at 80 degrees. (Which still beats having the radiator out!) The singing was great. The Mass was great. I figured a few things out while sloshing my way through the cold rain, and Confession will still be there next week. If I have to feel like a drowned rat while leaning against pine needles, this is still better than being depressed. And I didn't have to get up and go to Mass this morning. This is a plus, as it's much colder today.

Anyway, Father Martin had another short but pithy homily. He talked about seeing a star and following it. This was especially poignant since everybody knows he joined the priesthood after having a pretty full secular life and a darned good job. But he talked about how all the stars are equally difficult to follow, but that the first steps are the hardest. After that, you know that it is your star, and you love whatever you have to do to follow it.

This meant a lot to me. I mean, here I am, 33 years old and not settled on a career yet.... The problem is that none of those stars look especially bright to me. I can get enthusiastic about something for a while, but beyond that...well, I guess I've never taken that first step toward any career or dream, really. I'm not a naturally hopeful person, and I find it hard to believe that I'm much of an asset anywhere. I have a lot of talents and knowledge, but none of them seem to be much stronger than the others. But I suppose the actual problem is that I'm afraid to feel an inclination toward anything, because then I'd have to do something about it. But thinking about myself, or my own future, is so depressing. (Literally. Notice how I've gone from peppy to dirgelike within paragraphs?)

The whole situation is summed up, perhaps, in the fact that I haven't done anything yet about applying to grad school again this year; and I have to start working on my album again on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day, and after that it's convention time. I hate this. I always procrastinate, and if I don't, I get socked with something that makes me put things off. If I don't do either, I just plain forget. Time passes, and suddenly I'm 33. I am such a loser.

But unfortunately, I'm what God has to work with. So I can't give up.

At any rate, my album is one thing I know is a good thing. I don't know if it'll quite qualify as light in darkness, but I hope to make it at least a pinch of salt. This is an exciting time for filk, and for music, period.

I feel a little better about the situation after running into these links via the Corner. John Piper talks about Christians acting inside mainstream culture with "Brokenhearted Joy". Winning (openly, here and now) is not the point; doing God's will and loving our fellow humans is. There's also some interesting stuff in this David B. Hart book review for First Things. (If you can wade through the horrible mishmosh coding of the punctuation, that is. Hopefully this won't show on most people's browsers, but it sure did on mine.)


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