I listen to Red Mountain and drive five miles under the speed limit, while the car behind me weaves in and out of view from my side mirror: he would pass were it not that Sunday brought as many police as it did slow drivers. Let him swerve; it is Sunday, and I march to a slower beat than has coursed through me the week over.
Depression swallowed me most of these last few days. I lived in the gullet of that ancient foe, despairing of life. The tribal rhythm that beat in my veins came in contrasting waves of weak-abandonment and anger. Anger is the worst of the two for it leaves me hollow, empty, sad. At least with the abandonment, I wish to sleep. But anger drives and drives one to foolishness, madness till I cry, “I am betrayed. I am betrayed.”
Tuesday night I lay in the semi-dark haze of almost night. Zeke’s foot slowly beat upon the wall of the next room, drumming out the slowest tempo; it rang hollowly throughout the house, only then to echo in my soul. God, I hate the monster that betrays me. I lay, assuredly I did—I lay upon the bed I had decimated in my wrath not twelve hours earlier with a blow of bitter scorn. Splintered shards of cherry wood still clung to the sheets, while I—longing for sleep—felt my life played out in the percussion of my son’s foot.
Meanwhile, giant machines drove up and down the road scraping off the layers of blacktop and cement: three inches deep, two lanes wide, and ten miles long. They grown under the yawning light; I groan, and wish at times that I could be so scraped. That I, like some ancient road, might be ground down to the heart of who I am. Or, better still, that I—like Lewis’ Eustace—dragon-like though I be, might feel the singular claw of the lovely Aslan penetrating past the thick skins of anger, depression, and despair, might render me whole again.
After the bed broke under my anger, the silence broke by Isaac’s frustration. He sat upon my lap and reproved me again and again, while I apologized as many times. He said, repeatedly, “You are a bad daddy.” I almost believed him, while behind his words, another uttered those same lies. But then, like a ray of hope, Jonah’s voice broke in—and with it the host of heaven and the promise of salvation for all those who die at the end of their own means, only to be born again by the wings of Christ—“Isaac, he isn’t a bad daddy. He just has sin.” I am Paul: wicked man that I am, who will free me from this body of death? I am Eustace. I am the scraped road which roughly bears up under the weariness of life’s journeys.
Darkness breaks. A ray of hope. The music changes and I smile at the silliness of driving slowly on a Sunday afternoon. The troubling beats of music have died, giving way to this gentle theme, born of heaven, echoed in the heart of the saved sinner: if ever I loved thee, my Jesus tis now. Sing on, ye ancient tunes: ye are the soundtracks of life.