Friday, 8 February 2013
Mars has two moons - Phobos and Deimos, whose names mean Fear and Terror. This is Deimos. I once tried to describe the difference thus: Phobos is what you feel when there's a tiger in the room. Deimos is when the lights have fused, you realise you didn't lock the door, you'd swear you can smell tomcat writ large, and hear the sound of growling and snuffling and heavy footfalls, and you really didn't lock the door...
Deimos... Terror, dread, anxiety, panic. Are you ever struck by the beams of that particular moon? I am... Often at night, when the "what ifs" are particularly clamorous. Or perhaps there aren't any thoughts, just the sweaty palms, racing heart, shallow breathing. Now, I don't know enough about astronomy to know if the Martian moons have phases like ours, but in my imagination they do; at such times Deimos is definitely waxing gibbous, or even full, and that blank, expressionless lump of rock fills my whole vision. Ugh.
And then I read that Deimos is actually so small and at such a distance from Mars that it would look simply like another star in the Martian sky - no bigger than that. When Deimos seems to fill my inner sky I am seeing things out of proportion. That's exactly what anxiety (a relative of the Black Dog - thanks yet again Greenpatches: we must stop linking like this. Or, actually, let's not!) does. Good old Ignatius - as always he knows what's going on. The "enemy of our human nature" afflicts with sadness and anxiety: that is, he/she/it snares us and drags us out of the present into sadness about the past or anxiety about an imagined future (what's known as "sensible desolation", caused by brain chemistry, hormones or whatever, gets twisted into spiritual desolation where we come to doubt God's presence and love) thus depriving us of the Sacrament of the Present Moment where we encounter the Love that moves the stars - including lumps of rock revolving round Mars. God is good and all shall be well - that refrain again. I can't stop the full moon of Deimos filling my sky from time to time, but I can know that it's not the whole truth.