Age of Anxiety – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

Job 38:1-11
Mark 4:35-41

In 1947, a friend of the composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein suggested that he write a piece of music based on W.H. Auden’s epic poem, “The Age of Anxiety.” Despite critics deeming the poem as Auden’s “one dull book, his one failure,” it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948. The poem’s subject is four strangers who meet in a New York bar during wartime and contemplate their lives and the human condition.[i] The title of the poem evokes a theme that permeates society, both ancient and modern: anxiety. Just saying the word can make your muscles tense up.

Two definitions of anxiety resonate deeply with me. First: “an apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill: a state of being anxious.” We’ve all experienced anxiety of this sort, say, before a job interview, exam, wedding, or while awaiting a medical diagnosis and its implications for our future. For me, I remember the anxiety of preparing a meal for thirty people for the first time, my first sermon, or getting the call that my father had suffered a fall while I was away on mission in Texas—a fall that ended his life. What is something that has caused you anxiety in recent memory? Read More