Out of the depths

Faith at work

I hear the word at home, I hear the word making the rounds of my parish, and I find that lately I say the word quite often about myself: overwhelmed. The poet W. H. Auden dubbed the middle of the last century “The Age of Anxiety;” based on a complaint one hears everyday, we might dub our era “The Age of Overwhelming.” Whether one talks to a working mother who “has it all” or a conscientious high school student who also seems to have it all—much of it stuffed into a ponderous backpack—the sense one often gets is that of a person struggling in deep water, which is what the word “overwhelmed” suggests. To be “whelmed” is to be “covered by water.” To be “overwhelmed” is to be drowned, or nearly so.


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