The Gloom of January

It’s getting close to our annual trip to a warmer, sunnier place, and I am getting anxiously eager.  The only thing I dislike about winters in our valley is that they are very dark and gloomy too much of the time.  It’s not just that the days are short and nights long.  Even in the so-called daylight, the very dense overcast and frequent fog keep the valley so gloomily dark that it reminds me of the setting for hell in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.  This annual sojourn of ours seems to be something I need to restore my normal cheerful outlook on life because each year at this time I find myself sliding deeper into a very dark place in spite of my discipline of the Daily Office and great joy in celebrating and preaching.  It’s not as bad as the priest in Fr. Melancholy’s Daughter, but I certainly know more than I care to about his condition.

10 thoughts on “The Gloom of January”

  1. I understand, too. I moved from Texas to Rhode Island, where I\’ve lived for the past ten years. I enjoy the variety of seasons, but the lack of sunlight really gets to me by January. I found the joy and color of Christmas a real help this year, but January…

  2. Institutes (John Cassian) > Book XHe discribes acceddie (sp)which is not dispair but a kind of dark night of the soul. It afflicted St. Anthony. CP your caseis mild. A trip to a land of sunshine will cure it. I know this very well each winter and in the heat of summer.

  3. Our sixth combat is with what the Greeks call accedia, which we may term spiritual weariness or distress of heart. This is akin to dejection, and is especially trying to solitaires, and a dangerous and common enemy to dwellers of the desert; and especially disturbing to a monk about the sixth hour (midday), like some fever which seizes him at stated times, bringing the burning heat of its attacks on the sick man at usual and regular hours. Lastly, there are some of the elders who declare that this is the \”noonday demon\” spoken of in the ninetieth Psalm.

  4. Steve, I think that what you miss most is the practice of pastoral ministery. When I left the pastoral ministry, I felt a kind of grief that has never quite left me though quite deminished.

  5. Actually, there is more of us \”nameless\” ones than you have counted! Many of us share your \”acedia\” (from Greek akedia-listless, not caring) which was found in early lists of the \”deadly sins\”! When there were eight of them, until they got pared down to the mystic Seven! We call it S.easonal A.ffective D.isorder, no longer a sin! But cheer up, you will soon be going to a happier land of sunshine, as usual in your February! The emperor Constantine originally was a devotee of the cult of the Undying Sun, and Constantine was the first to make his day, Sun-day, a holiday, a convenience for his Christian friends, but not done on their account (it was not meant as a Sabbath, since it was also the farmers\’ Market Day). The birthday of the Undying Sun god was Dec. 25, the Roman Winter Solstice, which was soon arbitrarily redesignated the Nativity of the Christ in the Western Empire (the Greek East celebrated the Nativity on Jan.6, much to the annoyance of St. Jerome, when he lived in Bethlehem, when it was still a peaceful \”Little Town\”, except for the constant quarreling of monks of different theological opinions). Your Other Anonymous.

  6. That is so good Mr. Anonymous! I have always loved that word and your ability to teach in good humor! Thank You!!

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