Everywhere Down

As I’ve continued my prayer and meditation each day, greeting the vision of prayer I meet each day at the end of my customary prayers, I’ve continued to envision new images. Putting them into words borders on impossible, and even if I could, all meaning would be lost to the hearer. It would be trying to communicate raw experience through coded noises, nothing more. 

I began to wonder about poetry. I’ve thought before how wisdom literature in the Bible and poetry in general are attempts to communicate between the wordless part of the author with the wordless part of the hearer, mysteriously using words as the medium. I’ve also thought before about how I don’t have a great relationship with poetry. I try to make my prose engage with the artist in me, but I’ve always been intimidated by poetry. 

At last I found a task that would accept no other way, so I attempted to write about today’s meditation, and the writing itself was like praying.

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Reaching for Hope

Depression is largely the experience of losing hope. It doesn’t mean we don’t think hope is real or that hope isn’t worth having. But it’s like I set it down and then accidentally bumped it off. It fell on the ground and rolled out of sight, and I don’t know where to look for it. Sometimes, I have the time to search methodically. Other times I need it urgently and not having it is painful.

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Open to Seeing

In the last few weeks, I have had several all day classes. I discovered a lovely route to take a walk along a road with a lot of plants and trees, and I’ve been enjoying the restoration I experience walking mindfully through that beauty. This weekend, I did the same. I noticed after about 10 minutes, though, that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings like I had done before. They weren’t new anymore, and they didn’t automatically make me notice them.

I decided to be intentional about it. Last time, I was highly mindful of all the growing things, and they were lovely again, but what caught my attention once I encouraged myself to be curious were the things that were placed by human hands.

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Really Known

There is some vulnerability in sharing my ideas, especially considering how little I like conflict since there will always be someone who disagrees. But there’s not that much risk to it. I’m really good at being able to engage, share thoughts, talk about ideas, ask questions, and even answer questions about myself—all without really exposing anything really very real about me.
Shame and fear are there, and they’re real. And I am trying to learn stillness. To quiet the fear and transform the shame. To learn to trust and know the value and grace that are more real than any of the rest of it.

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Naked

I’m a counselor in training, and a five-minute video about what the Dougy Center is all about wiped me out. Not only am I training to become a counselor, I don’t just want to be a listening ear that then responds by teaching people helpful skills or goes through a surface level, manualized, step-by-step response. I fully intend to support people in wrestling with deep issues of meaning and purpose and rewriting the narrative they use to define themselves and their lives.

And death and grieving are going to come up. They just are. What am I going to do if I can’t handle people’s grief?

So then I start questioning myself, and the shame starts to whisper and creep in, and I doubt whether I can be a good therapist. Just imagine it. The first day in a session after I get my degree, someone is going to walk in and need to process losing their child to cancer. And I’m going to freeze. And they’re going to leave worse than they arrived. And I’m going to have to retire on the first day because in good conscience I can’t keep doing that to people.

It’s the same struggle Eve and Adam faced in the Eden narrative. A choice between connection and purpose and joy on the one hand and shame and disconnection and death on the other hand.

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Night and Day

Death and life, destruction and construction, desolation and consolation. Cycling through these is painful, and existing among them is reality. Enduring them is wearying, and growing from them is necessary for survival.

The last time I was writing consistently was over a year ago, before the stars went dark. It was in the midst of descent into depression. Some say depression and the Dark Night of the Soul are distinct. I’m confident that is true some of the time. I’m confident they overlapped for me.

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