At least two of my children have become amazingly adept at wrapping rope, dental floss, extension cords, cell phone handles, and/or lamp cords around various items and then tying them into terrifyingly intricate knots. Such was the case recently when I found a long stretch of string knotted, in a fashion no doubt envied by every boy scout and fisherman on the planet, around a closet doorknob.
As I hunched over to examine and try to outwit its complexity, the weight of the day’s “difficulties” (most of which involved the abuse heaped upon me by my children) began suddenly to seem too much to bear. It is funny how these sorts of feelings arise when something as seemingly trivial as a knotted string around a doorknob becomes the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
As I was on the verge of losing what little cool I have on normal days, my youngest daughter strolled by and cheerfully intoned “Whatcha doin Daddy?” I stopped and looked down at her…and instead of doing as I felt (yelling “UNDOING THIS KNOT THAT YOU AND/OR YOUR ANNOYING SISTER TIED IN THIS STRING!”), I smiled and said in the most polite tone I could muster: “Oh, I’m just taking this string off the doorknob.” I don’t think I’d finished the sentence before she’d danced away in search, no doubt, for more string. Still angry, but in control, I went back to my work on the present conundrum she’d left me.
“What are you doing?” My wife asked me as she also strolled by and was perplexed to see me so intently working on something related to the closet door.
Half-joking, I replied, “I am practicing apathia and trying not to allow the knot in this string to engorge my passions.”
The Fathers will say that by eradicating personal desire one can achieve a state of apathia, a Greek term from which we obviously get the word Apathy. Now of course apathy is usually seen as a negative thing, but the Fathers saw it in terms of being apathetic toward our own needs, desires, and will. It is to be completely attuned to the will of God.
“Why don’t you just cut the string?” My wife suggested.
Not having thought of that, for some reason, I smiled, “Well, what would I learn from THAT?”
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:08 AM [+]