Driving on Route 58 through Carver, Lent came knocking in lyrical form: I have become comfortably numb. [Comfortably Numb, The Wall, Pink Floyd,David Gilmour & Roger Waters, Columbia Records, released in 1979] It’s been one of my dark favorites since my high school sophomore self first heard it. It’s the perfect existential storm: the darkness and cruelty of the world flooding into the haunted, angst-injured soul…and the vain attempt to stem the tide by inducing a spiritual coma with drugs.
Have I become comfortably numb?
I’ve never lived a drugged existence, and I’m not trying to escape childhood trauma and loss with booze and barbiturates. And yet, hands on the steering wheel and foot on the gas pedal, I was singing a deep truth. I have become sufficiently numb to the great joy and pain my little part of the world offers that it makes me uncomfortable. I have settled for a lesser inner life than God offers; I have overlooked the unique gifts of my neighbors and the mutual blessings that grow out of our sharing this time and place. In churchy language, there’s plenty that I’ve done and left undone. It’s time to let the spiritual novocaine wear off.
This Lent, Pink Floyd’s wake-up call leads me to try something new. I’ll approach each day and each spiritual practice with this question: how does this shake me out of complacency and spiritual paralysis? Come Easter, I’ll ask myself another question: Am I un/comfortably awake, or un/comfortably numb?
If you are so inclined, share your own Lenten journey with me – it’s much easier to keep awake in good company than it is alone…
Lord, wake me up, hold me fast, show me the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.