Out of the Depths

I received an email from a new friend telling me he was on his way to spend a couple of days in an exclusive location with a room full of young evangelical elites.

He had misgivings about it because he’s a reflective type but as he said ” the draw toward being identified as an elite is compelling and attractive. Some might say tempting. I could not help but think about Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde was one of the most promising talents of the 1800s. Born in Ireland” the son of successful and influential Dublin intellectuals Oscar excelled in languages academics ” journalism and drama. He became at a very early age one of the most sought after elites among the society of London.

After a brilliant and financially successful start” he became involved in a scandalous trial which resulted in his being sent to hard labor in prison for two years. He became seriously ill and died shortly after his release –penniless and ostracized. However while in prison he wrote a 50 000 word letter De Profundis (Out of The Depths) ” in which he examines his life in great detail:

“I must say to myself that I ruined myself” and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand. I am quite ready to say so. Terrible as was what the world did to me ” what I did to myself was far more terrible still.

“The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius” and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights ” I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation.

“Desire” at the end was a malady or a madness or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now ” absolute humility."

Absolute humility. How much better it would have been to begin there.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for writing about tough real life challenges and “going deeper” still…”I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character”. What a great reminder but one that every parent tries desperately to teach their children. Why do we as adults make life so complicated?
    I started following your blog after hearing about the Gathering from my friends Paul Hurckman Aaron Smith and Ryan Skoog from Venture Expeditions. Richmy husband and I joined with Venture this summer on the IJM Freedom tour from Cincy to WDC. Rich was the one “hand-cyclist” amongst the 25 able body youngsters. The ride taught us muchespecially about humility. Rich shares his life story through his book Relentless Grace. We are on a journey now of sharing HOPEknowing that the need for God’s Relentless Grace carries us through especially through the humility lessons!


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