Esp 22: Why The Dark Night of the Soul is like Fight Club

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Shownotes
Doug Jackson, Returning Guest and All-Star, Explains the 3 Stages of Spiritual Development and Dispels the Biggest Myths.

Do you know St John of the Cross?

What you don’t know could hurt you…but good news, you are now in for a treat!

Listen and get a fascinating perspective of the darkest places on the spiritual journey with your guide Professor Doug Jackson. See the show notes below!

DougJackson

3:00

Historic context of 16th Century Catholic Revival-Era Spanish Mystic, St John of the Cross

4:30

3 stages of spiritual development 

How do we know if we are making progress and what can we expect?

St John (1542-1591) provides a roadmap for night travel.st-john-of-the-cross-zurbaran-detail-featured-w740x493

The Beginner Stage
(The beginner loves God for the self’s sake. The beginners thinks, “What’s good for me.”)

John H Coe

Doug explains the Dark Night of the Soul, the important next stage of spiritual development, in keen and helpful detail.

7:00

God starts at the first stage (in a place of joy and thrill in God) and allows us delight in spiritual things and feed on “mother’s milk” spiritually.

Next, God helps us get used to our baby teeth by moving us to love God for God’s sake.

John of the Cross takes the 7 deadly sins and show how they can happen to us in a spiritual sense.

8:10

God is weening us away from nursing and from spiritual milk. Like a baby, we may misunderstand and feel unloved or unnoticed, at first.

9:00

Commodified is the Dark Night of the Soul in Amercian Evangelicalism. The phrase itself is often used inexactly.

It’s not feeling sad or a string of bad things have happened for which we feel upset and confused.

BUT—It is that without cause we feel God has abandon us.

It is not a loss of faith, nor not depression, nor a felt distance because of sin.

It was also an analysis of depression 400 years before Freud! 

11:00

God withdraws sensible (sensory, felt) affects. The dark night of the senses. (first phase).

12:30

Maybe it feels like prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Maybe it feels that songs or sermons that had made an affect no longer do. This sense of loss will be different for each person.

13:30

Essentially, the delight in God disappears.

13:00

Mistakenly, we often may try to shock people back into spiritual infancy with a method, tactic, or suggestion that seems like it might cause feeling once again. (like a book, a conference, a service, etc)

14:10

The spiritual advice from John is to not abandon your spiritual practices (like prayer, fellowship, meditation, service, etc) continue to obey God and carry on until you pass through the night. They won’t be fun, but you continue for God’s sake, not your own.

Then you can come out on the other side to the stage of the Proficient. (Though the stages are actually more porous.)

15:00

The 2nd stage is where John says most of us get and hardly proceed from.

2nd dark night, is rare, and is horrible and includes a bewilderment and even a loss of faith in God and one comes out with a much richer deeper faith and far more settled and fuller understanding of God.

John Coe using 1 John 2:12-14 explains the stages as well.

18:00

John of the Cross found this understanding through terrible suffering and imprisonment and he saw the spiritual connection.

19:30

In the Dark Night of the Soul, spiritual answers are obscured and things are hidden from view.

Walking by faith and not sight.

22:00

If you can’t find the answers it doesn’t mean that something went wrong, it’s just that you can see right now. There will be a lack of certainty.

22:30

Stick with the basics in the dark night.

23:30

In the dark night we aren’t doubting our Faith, or God, but but we are doubting our understanding of God and our Faith.

The call is to obey God and persist in our ways as before. Eventually a dawn will come.

23:00

In this stage, we jettison things that are not core, central and true and come to understand God in a better way.

BE WARNED: Others may feel anxious to get you back in to where you were.

24:00

Backsliding is not the same thing as a Dark Night experience. The Dark Night is progression.

24:30

Prophets in the OT go through the dark night times.

25:00

Using a different lens to see what is already there.

26:00

Examples:

Elijah after Mt Carmel

Apostle Paul

Job

Jesus (wilderness and Gethsemane)

Jesus “learned obedience” and the the will of God was not pleasant

We all go through these types of dark nights

 

28:00

John of the Cross’s work was (and is) written for [spiritual] guides (leaders) so they can recognize what is happening and to know what not to do.

30:00

Some mystical-style theologians have been hijacked and grafted into a different (sometimes New Age) model of how the reality is ( i.e. “divided self”.)

30:30

The Devil – So what about the Devil which is a prominent feature in the writings?

A CAUTION:

John takes the readers’ Christian theology for already granted. The basic Christian theology was assumed because that was the background and beliefs of his audience.

32:00

Doug answers…Devil with a Big “D” questions. How do we come to understand John and what he is saying, if it is different than our understanding of The Devil and the spiritual world?

Don’t rehabilitate [John], or superimpose our ideas on his work.

Don’t judge or put parts on trial for the embarrassing and difficult sections of St John of the Cross.

34:30

Approach the text thus: “Eat the meat of the fish not the bones”

35:00

If the language bothers you, then let it lie fallow and see what is going on in your own heart as you read.

35:30

We can learn from old text.

36:00

On intellectual honesty and intellectual humility

37:00

On why the devotional classics become that way.

37:30

On the reading of old books (C.S. Lewis) (click to read)

We have different blind spots now. Different mistakes in different times.

38:30

Our cultural and worldview will effect our beliefs.

39:00

How do we get through the Dark Night?

It is up to God as a Grace. Our only job is to remain faithful.

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck

41:00

The promise is (found in Scripture and from those who’ve gone ahead of us in the Faith) that we come out (into dawn) and see the value of what we went through.

God says to Job: I’m God and you are not.

Job says, “Now I have seen you. I spoke out of turn.”

42:00

A word of hope for those in the dark night.

1. Those in the dark night bless those around them and their pride does not effect this because of the Night itself. We are spiritual protected.

43:00

In the Dark Night we don’t get to be proud of our humility.

Be faithful know that God is using you and wait it out.

43:30

Modern example Mother Teresa. She lived most of her life with a sense of abandonment by God.

“If I ever become a Saint I will be a Saint of Darkness, facing the dark to guide souls to the light.”

44:00

People were drawn to her service and work for God even though she felt God’s silence.

45:00

On her critics who say she stopped believing in God.

Christopher Hitchens wrote slanderously about her and others in his book “The Missionary Position”. He said she did have the courage to admit publicly that she didn’t believe in God and never had.

46:00

Mother Teresa–her fruit shows otherwise (it’s sow belief and faithfulness).

Apostasy is a deliberate walking away from God which is a danger of misunderstanding the Dark Night. This is why trained and wise spiritual guides are essential.

47:00

C.S. Lewis character Screwtape urges: “Use the word “phase” to tell him he had it all wrong”

In a genuine Dark Night, we may think we have abandon God or want to and then find ourselves incapable of it.

48:00

Doubt in God is like holding a volleyball underwater with just one hand and senses all the force and then thinking there is no volleyball because it cannot be seen.

“We aren’t working without a net and we won’t fall out of the arms of God.”

49:00

If you are in the Dark Night…(it helps) remembering “it’s a thing, a documented thing”.

49:30

Walking in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before.

51:00

What to do if you are in the throes of it all. best advice.

Richard Foster’s advice in the Celebration of Discipline. The chapter on solitude.

Don’t try to explain this to people when you are in it.

(It’s like Fight Club) “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about fight club”

Most people will not get it. It can hurt our spiritual reputation. God is drawing us into obedience and faith in the absence of feeling. We carry on

Spiritual Director or guide is very important.

“The Dark Night of the Soul” (click to get it free)

“The Way of Spiritual Direction”

“The Spiritual Journey: Crucial Thinking and Stages of Adult Spiritual Genesis”

Henri Nouwen “The Way of the Heart”

55:00

Protestantism running thin in certain areas.

Psychology tainted some spiritual experience as pathology and than co-opted with modern Christianity.

57:00

Baptists were not systematic theologians early on because of the persecution from the Mother Church (in Rome).

58:00

Puritan writers like Jonathan Edwards take God as Physician of the Soul very seriously.

59:00

The one sermon that did in Jonathan Edwards in our time.

“The Religious Affections” To teach that the Great Awakening was just an emotional experience or demonic experience. He writes on how to understand what is of God.


60:02

On taking your time understanding the Dark Night. God is trying to bring us into greater maturity and Christ likeness.


Have you ever gone through a Dark Night of the Soul?
If you’ve reached the dawn, what was strengthen or changed in you?

Blessings in your night travels. If you aren’t in a Dark Night, it’s coming. Stay Calm and Carry on.

If you have any questions or you would like to drop me a line about what you are going through, please use the contact page. A helpful (worldwide) listing to find qualified guides is here.

 

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson


First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.

 

And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!


Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.

 

Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,

~Lisa

WINE SEGMENT:

Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!

Why? 

Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


 

Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!

Doug-Jackson

Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


 

Interview / chat notes:

 

MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

8:50
Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

9:00
Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

9:50
on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

10:30
on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

11:00
The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

12:30
on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

14:30
James Sire

15:70
Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

18:00
Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

19:00
on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

21:30
HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.

22:20

“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”

 

22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

23:30
on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

24:00
Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.

25:00

Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

26:00
Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

27:20
A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

28:20
How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”

29:30

“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

30:10
Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

31:00
Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

32:00
Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

33:30
My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)

34:00

“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

34:30
“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

39:00
St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

40:00
…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

41:00
…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

44:30
(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”

45:00

“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

46:00
[GOOD NEWS]
Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


 

If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Humor Series: Funny to Whom?

funny-old-lady-smoking

Have you heard this one?

Three Humor Science researchers walk into a bar. ….um. Wait. That won’t work. Let me start over.

Get a scientist to talk about humor studies and you get a quick reminder of how science can squeeze the life out of anything.

Dissection is destructive. But no more!

It’s time to find out in a better way:

1. What do people find funny and why?

2. How can YOU become more humorously winsome?

3. How can science and an understanding of human nature and spirituality help us find out?

That’s what this series will be about, and I promise that it won’t be as dull as it’s been when scientists have the mic.

If it’s successful, a long form project will go a lot further and get a lot funnier. That’s up to you.


 

Here’s the story of how it all started:

A friend of mine asked me to speak at a senior residential home on the topic of community. No problem. I speak at plenty of places on plenty of topics. I wrote my bullet points and picked out an outfit…and then things went bad.

The problem?
I didn’t know she was billing me as “hilarious”.

I found that part out only a few days beforehand. I went into a quiet panic. The kind where your hands get clammy and your sweat smells like bad coffee. You run out of TUMS at times like this.

I’d planned on being friendly and informative, not uproarious. I was going to present material and involve them in cute bonding activities, not split their sides in gales of laughter. My friend had been walking around assuring residents that I was the funniest thing going.

Now what?

Maybe, I could stick a joke in there somewhere:

“Have you ever peed your pants laughing? What a silly question–you’re old people. You peed your pants getting out of bed today. Is bladder incontinence a laughing matter? …Depends.”

Depends is right. This wasn’t going to work.

What if they hated me?  Some of them are in chronic pain. Some are grouchy. Some have little patience for sassy youngsters. These people carry canes and some smell like pee.

I could get the beating of my life! And I would deserve it.


 

The terror of bombing at the place drove me to research the topic of humor scientifically.

My purpose was to help these folks have a good time, not offend them.

What resulted was a quest and many discoveries. I had to find out if funniness can be learned, if public speaking can be improved with a formula, if laughter can be predicted, and if old people laugh at jokes about physical deterioration and, if so, under what conditions.

Well, it turns out the last bit is sort of tricky. More on that in future material.

 

On getting funnier

My research dug up a very good find and it might help you too:

One of the ways almost anyone can get funnier to more people is to appear harmless more broadly.

Does that seem counter-intuitive?
Yes, there are foul-mouthed, raunchy comics aplenty and seem to get lots of laughs, but they are not typically funny to the greatest numbers of people compared to plenty of other things (pies in the face, mistaken identity antics, prat falls, kittens jumping in surprise), and there is a scientific reason why.

What more people (on average) actually find funny hinges on giving them something that is funny at a further comedic distance. This explains why Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bill Cosby (before all that drugging women stuff was found out) have huge followings and continued success, and Roseanne Barr gets more annoying as time goes by.

 

What is Comedic Distance?

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.

-Mel Brooks

In this quote, Mel Brooks underscores what humor researchers are finding empirically true. Distance matters a lot.

If your child falls off the playground slide and bangs himself up, it’s scary. If some man in a cowboy hat suddenly gets kicked in the crotch by an aggressive llama, it’s laughable.

The Kitten vs. Stern Proof

This is why videos of kittens doing silly things trump in spades the popularity of Howard Stern and his radio show antics. The hoards of memes, shares, and overall fans of funny kitten videos means that invariably, kittens kick Howard’s butt. Big time. Kittens won’t squash your dearly held values. Kittens won’t say something gross about bodily fluids. (Kittens are not funny to everyone, but they are funnier on the whole than a raunchy DJ or vulgar comedian. No contest.)

The difference between kittens and Howard Stern is this: Something “dangerous” isn’t personally threatening when kittens are involved.

Comedic distance (whether physical, chronological, or emotional) creates an amusing incident. The surprise pays off and people are thusly amused. If not, that you can get booed.

For me, I played off that my normal Thursday afternoons are spend with prison inmates and that I was REALLY happy for the upgrade.

I was then heckled by a woman who said,

“Don’t be so sure.” (She has it in for a few of her neighbors. It’s been ugly.)

To which I replied, “Well, you are all much better dressed.”

Resounding laughter. A win!


So, see if you can figure out why the photo above is funny (to most people)?

Answer:
The woman has made it to 100 years old and she’s done it her way.
Sure, smoking is dangerous, but apparently not much, in her case.

Having fun?

I hope you are enjoying this series.

Do you have questions about humor theory or getting funnier?
Let me know.

xo

-Lisa

Here are the previous articles in this series:

1. Finding things funny…from birth

2. Humor Studies: Step 1 – Tickle Rats

For the latest info on my humor related projects sign up here.

Self- Righteous: What other people are

It’s a good thing you aren’t self-righteous, or this would be a tough article to read.law

 

…so, I had a fascinating discussion with a friend about “modern-day Pharisees” in the church and what can be done about it.

(This issue extends far beyond the church and people of faith. In short, we may and do all suffer from self-righteousness somehow because we all fall prey to self-deception.)

There’s no way to recapture the conversation I had, but I hope that my noting the highlights is interesting to you.


 

Summary: Self-Righteous, Pharisee-types seem to be what other people are…this little twist makes getting rid of the problem very hard.


• In short, a pharisaical person is self-righteous.
– The assume they are in the right, doing right, alright. Am I right? Right!

• Most people think they are right most of the time.
– Few people think, “I’m usually wrong and you and others are usually right.”

• People feel they believe the truth, not lies. (Sounds obvious, sure, but consider the greater implications.)
– Obviously, we can’t all be right, but this doesn’t really entering our minds as applying to us.

• Most people believe that OTHER people are self-righteous / pharisaical, not them.
(or if they are pharisaical, it’s only sometimes. The situation doesn’t really trouble them.)

• Self-Righteousness is a delusional episode of the sin pride. It pivots on one losing track of one’s own ongoing and un-remedied sinfulness, as well as one’s blindness to the guilt and weight of that sin.

(Thus, we become self-satisfied with our level of goodness and immune to the devastating implications of sin in any unmitigated form. I’m just great and I’m happy about it. I’m not like you!)

• Unhealthy pride is a universal human malady.

– Whoops, that means it applies to ME and YOU. eesh.

• Recognition of one’s sin that move one toward humility to repent (to God and others) is one of the only sure-fire cures, albeit a temporary one.

If you care to weigh in on the topic, go right ahead.

What is the best remedy for pride, in your opinion?

-L

On Public Showering: The Accidental Peep Show

399448096_e44472b485_zI’m jumping ahead on Funny Fridays, today.

This true story happened a few weeks ago, and it just occurred to me that it makes an amusing tale…so here goes. Why not?

If you follow this blog, you know that I got a new part-time job this summer at a winery. I manage the Tasting Room once or twice a week. It’s been a hectic summer and I worked a bunch of my weekends solid, including missing 9 Sundays of church in a row–A first in nearly two decades. More on that another time.

 This is part cautionary tale and part embarrassing antic.

BACKSTORY:
So, I’m commuting 52 miles each way and working a bunch of days back-to-back and it dawns on me, finally, to ask my relatives if I can crash at their home which is only 12 minutes away. Instead of getting home at 11:30-midnight and fitfully sleeping for 5-6 hours and driving back again 52 miles for a hour meeting, this will make everything far better.

They graciously agree, but in the process of making plans, I forget that they will actually be away during that time. But, it’s no matter to them, they extend the offer and I’m grateful for it.

ARRIVAL:

It’s dark and I use my phone as a flashlight to enter their house and the cat is none too pleased. After hissing and keeping her ears back, I greet her.

“Hi, puppy. What’s wrong?” She doesn’t think it’s funny and she disappears for the rest of my stay.

SHOWER SCENE:

I’m achy, stinky, and ready for a shower and bed, so I head upstairs. I’m brushing my teeth and getting my things prepared when I realize a bit of horror…

The window is a big one, and just a sheer curtain separates me from the rest of the neighborhood.

Um, what?

I’m on a second story stage. All light is on me. I’m about to disrobe.

Have they not realized this is optical insanity?

I suppose plenty of people never realize that if one’s house is lit and it’s dark outside, one’s rooms are on display fully. Hum. Saying “one’s” make this seem very Victorian. That’s not the vibe I was going for.

Anyhow…At night, a lit bathroom it turns into like something you would find in a red light district.

Gulp.

If I went outside buck (or doe) naked, I would have more cover than this. I look like the main event, right now.

I imagine hearing slinky music start and then abruptly shaggy men near the street start grumbling and folding up their chairs.

Boo!

Where’s the regular?

We want silver fox!


Then, I blanch as I realize who might spend occasional weekends here, no doubt showering unaware. Oh God, why!

I fight off the urge to send a quick text and have a small vomit burp.

All I have to do is get a shower and get to bed. Stay focused.

ACTION PLAN:
There’s nothing to block the window. Finally, I decide to get undressed with the light off. Dark inside + dark outside = privacy, after all. That’s my plan.

Then, I think of the cat having a good laugh at my expense.

I’ll pretend I’m Hellen Keller. No she was deaf and blind. I think I’d just do a sponge bath if that were the case. No, I’m Mary Ingalls. I can hear Laura and Pa in the next room. The cat is whispering and making them laugh.

 

Perfect. Sort of.

Oh no, how will I navigate everything when I get out without getting water everywhere, or killing myself?

Wow, it’s dark in here! What a pain! Good, god, I’ll have to tell my daughter it’s a tricky business here.

After I step into the shower I reach out and flip the light back on.
(I can’t do the entire cleaning process blind. I don’t have the skills.)

All this thinking after a long day of work. It’s no match for me.

I deliberate behind the curtain…which I’m discovering is also rather sheer.

IS this all purposeful?

Do they have a web cam in here, or what?

Is this how they plan to save for retirement? Interesting.

Nightly Showers for Harrisburg’s viewing pleasure.

(Gracious tips are appreciated. Give them to the smirking cat.)

 

Gross! I’m in a freakin’ fish bowl here.

That notion will be hard to scrub from my brain as I try to sleep, won’t it now? I think.

I finish up, flip the light back off before I step out. Careful. Easy. I could twist an ankle.

This will be a fine mess if I fall and need an ambulance, yes? Curses.

[Day dream sequence: Queue harp music.]

 

Why is it dark in here, ‘mam?

 

-Well, I’m not fond of starring in peep shows and I fell. Oh, gosh. Can you turn the light back off?

 

Sorry no. We can’t see. Oh, look, a crowd is gathering down there. Where you yelling for help?

 

-No. I think they’re regulars.

 

Huh?

[End day dream sequence]

I towel off as best as I can and sneak for my room. Oh, brother. It’s facing the same way. Big window. Again.
Lucky me, a slightly less sheer curtain blocks it. I guess. A little.

NICE! Grrrr.

So, now I crouch down and get dressed. I flick the bedside lamp on. This will have to do.
Exhausted, I collapse into bed.

 

Modesty is something I need for me, not for other people, I suppose. At my age, I’ll attract gawkers, and hardly more. And maybe it’s doubtful anyone was watching. But, who knows…the whole experience was…memorable.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

If it’s lit in your house, and dark outside, be prepared to be a viewable object, like it or not.

It’s just simple optics.

Go ahead, grab a helper and do an experiment…keep your clothes on.

You’ll see what I mean. 

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