One Day: On Suicide, On Melancholy, On Living … On

359563392_8922d86823_oIt is a silent crucible
brimming with ache,

mostly inside.

If you haven’t experienced true melancholia
be glad. And it’s okay to be glad
for some who have gone through cancer and depression say they’d take cancer over the adversary of depression
which is really astounding.

It is difficult to explain and the only reason I keep trying is that

I want the world to be a more compassionate place for all.  You see,

Some people
kill themselves.  Some people cut or hurt
themselves.
And some shrivel up
like the moldy apple core I found under the bed, sticky

and covered in lint and decay.  But many people,

most

do

the hardest thing of all. They carry on, and
life
becomes a steep climb up a high altitude mountain.

I read, I pray, I try to understand

It. I try to understand myself.

I write.  And no matter how hard I work, and I do

work, very, very hard

I am still

a person who carries melancholia on my back.  I cannot shake it.  And if you’re a longtime reader you know,
I’ve tried.  Oh,

how I’ve tried.
This is something I carry, like Jacob’s limp after wrestling with God. And I can only hope

It sits well in me,

and can be redemptive for others,

One Day.

MHH

P.S. This, by Christine A. Scheller, is one of the most empathetic articles I’ve ever read on the topic of Depression and Melancholy   I felt understood.  I felt described.  I felt less alone.

Help me to Be

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”   ― Walt Whitman

Today I slipped into the imponderable place. I am disappointed with myself that this is happening, which only makes it more resistant to my human efforts to change.

What happened? I have some slight success and the furies inside challenge. Their presence in my psyche is a relentless stream, even as I pretend otherwise.

I fear the furies and yet by doing so, I give them sway.

This is new, naming the furies, which have been with me all my life. They are a melancholy; the chaotic anxious thoughts, the doubt and self-recrimination, the clamoring perfectionism and uncertainty and let’s call it what it is, the monster itself – fear. There is also the need for validation and the craving for significance. It is ugly, mortifying, and difficult to decipher. I could add to this list all day long I think.

It’s fitting that I have read for two weeks on Humility in my Prayer Book.  In it I read this:

Teach me, O Lord, thy holy way,
And give me an obedient mind,
That in thy service I may find
My soul’s delight from day to day.

Help me, O Savior, here to trace
The sacred footsteps though hast trod;
And, meekly walking with my God,
To grow in goodness, truth and grace.

– A hymn by William Matson

For many years my faith languished and deteriorated – I could not “see” God, feel him nor know his love. I did not believe. And as I stumbled, broken by depression and then addiction, I was chastened. Every pretense I might have conjured up was stripped from me.

“The Lord is near the broken-hearted; he is the Saviour of those whose spirits are crushed down.” Psalm 34:18

I then I understood Grace.

And from that time I have wanted nothing but this Savior, what he wants. That is not to say that I do not struggle as he challenged me to give things up – there were, are, many idols in my heart. I quit smoking because I heard God say I want you to want me, need me, more than you need Nicotine. And I wanted to want him that much too. Smoking became a metaphor for the sacrifice of praise that he sometimes asks for. He asked of me. I still stumble.  I lean into him.

And yet when the furies swirl, I fear I have become disconnected from the Holy Spirit, allowing a deterioration of intimacy with Jesus.   Sometimes the furies create such chaos, like tiny tornadoes of anxiety. I want to cut myself open and imagine them flying crazily away from me!  Then I can be free, rid of the things that weigh heavily and make me unwise and thoughtless, quick to think or say things that don’t show God’s love.  I want to lean into the Holy Spirit and allow the fresh winds of his spirit to fill me.

I want a deep, deep faith.

One that isn’t hasty or trite. No snatches of scripture, I want to be wading deeply into chapters and books. I want my spiritual roots to go deep into the ground, so that when challenges come I don’t stagger or fall as I have in the past.

Helmut Thielicke said “To work without praying and without listening means only to grow and spread oneself upward, without striking roots and without an equivalent in the earth.”
I want to penetrate life deeply.

These are the things I have been pondering today.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite writers, Christian or otherwise, Evelyn Underhill, from The Spiritual Life.

“Any spiritual view which focuses attention on ourselves, and puts the human creature with its small ideas and adventures in the centre foreground, is dangerous till we recognize its absurdity …  We mostly spend those lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual—even on the religious—plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of a spiritual life.”

Humility and penetrating life deeply.  That is definitely not craving, clutching and needing the attention for myself.

Lord, help me to Be.