in Failure, Tall Tales

this Something

I’m sure the T.V. sets will tell us when someone reinvents the wheel.
Till then I’ll have a million conversations about shit that isn’t real.
But I’ll try to breathe in meaning, dig deep through every gasp of air.
Cause I know you did the same thing, for as long as you could bear.

~ from “Reinvent the Wheel” by Conor Oberst
About a week ago, a young man that I knew obtained a day pass, a pass that permitted him to leave the psych ward of the hospital –- where he was being held and monitored –- and he went to visit a friend. While he was at that friend’s house, he hung himself and died.
This young man had been in “anguish” for a long time. I don’t know how else to describe what he was experiencing. Something in his mind was broken. Something was wrong; and, whatever that Something was, it tortured him. I don’t know when it first appeared -– maybe it came in and broke his mind when his family broke his heart, or maybe it came in and broke his mind when older men broke his body. Maybe that Something was always there and just got stronger and stronger with each new experience of brokenness, until it overwhelmed him.
I have encountered this Something before. I have seen it devour other lives. Indeed, tonight I sat and watched two other young people who are, literally, fighting for their lives against this Something.
What is this Something? It’s Plath’s “Bell Jar,” an invisible cage that suffocates whomever it surrounds. It is a darkness that enters through our wounds and fills us until all light, all hope, is lost. But it is also more than that. It is a Power in the service of Sin and of Death. It is one aspect of the demonic confronted by Jesus and by Paul (cf., for example, Mt 12.28; Eph 6.12).
And this Something is strong. It was stronger than this young man, and it was far stronger than anything we had to offer.
Supposedly such Powers were dethroned in the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, supposedly through the Spirit of New Life, we are equipped to proclaim the end of the reign of such Powers. But, as I watch my young friends sleep, I am far from confident that we will be victorious. The darkness is rising and they are suffocating.

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