There’s really no other way to describe the last year. Over the course of four months I descended into the most trying, most testing, deepest struggle I imagined, and then kept dropping.
All the things I knew that brought me joy and enlivened me we turned inside out. I spiraled down the river Styx and took turns with Charon pushing my gondola toward Hades’s lair.
It wasn’t a journey I wanted to take. I tried to do good things for people along the way, but even when longing looking toward the dimming light behind the boat, I pushed it forward.
As I no longer found joy in previous passions, I wondered who I was, what made me this way, and whether such a change was inescapable. So far as I felt, there was no hope for change.
Cognitively, I knew atonement was available. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for me, I could regain my former zest for life and activities. But I had no hope for it.
So who I was–the things I had built around myself–crumbled one by one, leaving a very scared and hopeless child behind.
Through it all, some things remained in tact: I maintained faith even when hope was gone, I had good inner desires, my desire to help and bless others was strengthened as I gained greater empathy for them.
And as some point, I started turning the boat around. Charon wasn’t too excited.
Now I propel it the other way. I am the gondolier.
The road is tough. I fight the current of the river. I fight fatigue–I’ve been pushing the boat–regardless of direction–for a long time. I fight to stay in charge of my boat: Charon’s skeletal fingers keep trying to retake control of the rudder.
As I progress, I gain strength. Effort makes me tired, but I am sustained as I continue to progress. I’m building strength and am more able to resist Charon’s claws. The gondola travels more easily upstream.
I expect I’ll reach Styx’s spring soon and I can disembark. I take comfort knowing I am stronger and more focused than I was before. I am better than I was. I’m still shaking off dust from the journey.
But I know the next time I find myself at the door to the Underwolrd I can fight back. I can return to the light and the sylvan fields of Feneos and then to the rest of the world.
I’ve done it once.