Keeping Faith While In Despair

Hey all! I received the privilege of publishing an article on Self Talk the Gospel, an online writing community that I had been interning with as a Content Curator during the previous six months. I wrote a guest post for their Impressed Series, in which their writers describe an experience with a piece of literature that left a lasting impression.

For my article “Keeping Faith While in Despair,” I chose to write about Soren Kierkegaard’s book Fear and Trembling (even a year since graduation, my humanities classes are still ringing in my ears), along with my experience of faith and spiritual depression. Here’s a snippet:

Finally. I had finally encountered a fellow lover of wisdom and member of the Christian faith who told me that the authenticity of my faith doesn’t depend on how I feel before I go to bed at night, or how I feel during worship at church. That my choosing faith is what matters, as opposed to depending on whether or not I feel like I have faith.

You can read the rest of the article by following the link here. If you’re curious about topics of Kierkegaard, the nuances of spirituality and faith, despair, and/or my writing in general, check it out!

Enjoy,
-Jennifer

Diagnosed with Kierkegaard

Awareness comes to me like watching the moon fluctuate phases.
I am old enough to draw in my eyebrows daily, I am young enough to  skateboard sidewalks between meagerly professional responsibilities.
I trust this is not fragmentation.
Thank you for your commitment to the art of stained glass.

Awareness comes to me like the knowledge of the twisted friendship bracelet thread tangled up in the box under my coffee table desk.
Try to determine the things you want, need, and have been given too much of.
My eyes are blurry.

Awareness comes to me like the rotations of the earth.
Shouldn’t I be spinning out of control by now?
Shouldn’t the speed of light give me a headache?

Awareness comes to me like staring at the Sun.
Topographically, the distinction between enlightenment and blindness is slight.
Sometimes I have my doubts.
What happens if I try to turn the lights out?

Audacity

I took the Herndon exit off the highway
Near midnight after a worn out summer evening
Driving forward to a sleepy bed and comic book
At an easy pace of 50, lights mostly green.

At the brink of an intersection
My headlights exposed a brown form
With wide eyes gleaming, rabbit ears erect, still jerking
In protest to his hind legs already crushed to the pavement.

That second I gasped, control fled
Without consultation, hands jerking the wheel
And yanking the world into a 50 mile per hour swerve.

When the road twitched straight again
My lungs re-engaged but could not deter
The flooding of inherent tragedy
Throbbing the ribs of my soul.

I considered the fact this was a stumble in the last step
Of one in transition to the hardly novel sight
Of umber and red splayed on the road,
Never before one that grasped at my own blood.

And I considered the fact that those black eyes
Condemned soulless so philosophically
Could possibly only reflect a projection of anguish
Stimulated within my own fragile psyche.

Yet I find myself remembering the rabbit’s audacity
In a defenseless fight against a common fate,
How I heard his heart beating faster
And nerves screaming louder than ever.

And I considered the fact that I still swerved.

A few notes about last week…

The Good

this was a trip to the woods
for summer waterfalls
raven feathers
and the breath of trees

this was a trail there and back
for fresh grain bread
avocado turkey
and the body content

this was an exchange of friends
for stories past and future
half-caf americano
and tying loose ends

this was a surprise encounter
for faces long missed
haircut beard
and arms finally filled

this was four gathered chairs
for bright words and calm wings
butter cream cheese
and the deepness of Good

Becoming a scholar

Hey guys………..

So I know I haven’t been around in a while.

…Yeah…5 months…it’s a long time since we’ve spoken…I know…I’m sorry.

Do you want to catch up? I do. I missed you. I know excuses are excuses, but I do have a few. Well, here goes…

Excuse #1:

The stack on the left contains all the books I read through completely, minus two: Antigone and Three Cups of Tea. The stack on the right contains all the books of which I was only required to read partially. Said reading took place between the months of September and the first half of December–you know, about 3 and a half months.

I was thinking about doing the math to average out how many pages I had read per day, but I got tired thinking about how I read more than 100 pages of Dante one day and stayed up until 6 am reading 3/4 of Three Cups of Tea in order to finish it before taking a test on it  before the next class (in fact, I shudder every time I hear the name Greg Mortenson now–less because of the controversy surrounding his work than my bitterness of losing so much sleep over a book with such an embarrassing writing style). Anyways, I got tired thinking about such an endeavor, and I figured you would trust me when I said I read a BUTTLOAD of pages a day.

All of this reading was my academic endeavor last semester. I had chosen to leave the main campus of Azusa Pacific for one of their “study abroad” programs called High Sierra. At the start of the semester, all I knew was that I would be living up in Bass Lake with 40 other students on a small summer camp compound (known as Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp), promised a bunch of outdoor adventures (backpacking trips, wakeboarding, rockclimbing and the like), and taking some Humanities courses. Alumni from other semesters had said something about a lot of reading, but I didn’t understand what they meant. I had spent my summer breaking in my new hiking boots, and I thought I was ready to go.

Three and a half months later, my mind had absorbed the classics of history, philosophy, and literature–of which Three Cups of Tea, the unfortunate requirement of my leadership class, should not be grouped with (still bitter).

Anyways–oh, the classics! I read through the works of St. Augustine, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, Dante, Milton, Galileo, Homer, Hildegard of Bingen, Virgil, Machiavelli…Yes, the reading, the mind-probing daily assignments–it was hard (and it’s really a shame that thinking a lot doesn’t burn a ton of calories). Despite racking up a massive sleep debt by the end of the semester, though, I think I fell in to a strange sort of love. Instead of drilling my brain with typical textbook knowledge, I was interacting with the original works of historic brilliant minds that have affected the way people see the world even today; I was learning about hospitality, the arguments of politics, mysticism, friendship, man’s pride, purgatory, predestination, how Aristotle and Plato influence Christianity, special revelation versus natural revelation–this, my friends, is scholarship.

Instead of throwing up dates and trivial information, I had to discover the argument of Aquinas in his writings on law. Instead of falling asleep during lectures, my classmates debated about what really is “The Good.”  I took a scene from Paradise Lost and rendered it into a drawing of Adam and Eve. I wrote a paper about Plato vs. Aristotle on art and another about the history of the philosophy of time.

I became a scholar.

And some people thought I was just going to summer camp for a semester…