Dispatches from Fr. Charitas
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Years ago, I served on a suicide prevention hotline. A common question asked in desperate tones, “What reason have I to live?”
What reason have I to live? Not a rational request for a reason for any answer would be cast aside, but rather it is a confession of an inner emptiness, a hollowness, that stirs fear in the one experiencing it. Like that poem by T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men, that desperate plea is a gasp of death before death actually comes. “Lord, give me a reason to live for I feel as if I have already died!!” It is not a inquiry of what might possibly be a reason … it is a feeling that comes when the feeling of life flowing through you is no more.
T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men was penned surprisingly in 1925. In the boom years of the economy, in the years of booze and frolic, in the years of the flapper and the years of the dandies in their highly tailored suits. With prosperity flourishing and the stock market running wild … Eliot writes of the hollowness of it all.
In my dozens of conversations with those considering suicide … I find so often, not always, a hollowness that is filled with fear and anxiety, uncertainty and frustration, helplessness and hopelessness. Somehow the Life flowing through them seems to have dried up … and where does one go … when the river is dry. I slowly learned through the years that usually you cannot talk one out of suicide … you can only let the river flowing through yourself to begin to flow through them.
In these times … I could see T. S. Eliot writing The Hollow Men … for so many are hollow, emptied of the deeply human experience of Life, so deep that it feels the flow of the Divine.
In His Service always,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz