“The Light In Winter” by Jo-an Jacobus

Message at Durham Friends Meeting, April 22, 2018

Today is Earth Day.  The synchronicity of that being the day I give the message was an unexpected fluke.  I was to have given the message last week but things shifted to meet other needs, and I was flexible.  So, here we are…

I live with major depression, and it cycles, but only below the midline. I do not go into the mania.   Usually, I cycle right around the midline.  That is not too bad.  I can live there and manage in the world, doing the things that need doing, enjoying the world around me.

This winter it has been very bad, the worst in many years.

I have had a hard time feeling my usual connection with the Spirit, the God of my understanding.  In that regard, I’ve bumbled along “acting as if”, as they say in 12 Step programs, acting as though I still felt the connection with my Higher Power: saying prayers as best I could. Prayers asking for help for myself and others. Prayers of thanks were harder.  Sometimes prayer became short indeed, something along the lines of, “I’m still here.  It’s awful in this skin.  Please don’t forget me.”  Or even, “G’morning Goddess.  Help!”  But I always tried for more.

When I am this depressed I do not manage to keep commitments – to myself or others.  My self-care suffers, often feeling insurmountable to me: keeping my world running smoothly, or running at all, even doing the basic daily care people take for granted seems beyond my reach.

Sometimes I don’t make it to Meeting, or anywhere else, or if I get out, I don’t interact with Friends, with people all that well.  Being with people is sometimes too much.   Yet, in these worst times, I sometimes rise above to have moments of laughter and good interactions but those moments do not mean all is lightness and joy in my world.  Everything seems to be going along just fine, until… it’s not.

In March, for the first time in over twenty years, I went back on antidepressants.  They have been added to the medications I take for the cycling.

The saving Grace of the winter was unexpected and came in small instants offering blessings of Love every time I drove my car.  What a strange place for the darkness to lift, but there it was.

The Light this brought into my life carried me through this darkest of winters.  As I drove I noticed Nature in all Her glory.  The small field of hills behind the tree farm.  The trees nestled up next to the road hugging me tightly.  The stream that roared over the small dam as I passed.  The smaller and smaller lines of the tree branches against the sky.  The mist and fog slowly moving between the trees, around the houses, over the hills.  The rays of light flashing from the diamonds stuck on all the trees, the roof lines, on the stone walls, the power lines, and street signs.  All standing quietly available for my glance. Fortunately, I was able to see.  My eyes, my soul soaked in the beauty, the wonder.  It carried me through the darkness of each day.

Most important, I was able to be thankful for living in this world of beauty.  I couldn’t say prayers in the forms I was used to. I could not say thank you for the life I had been given.  But I could say, “Thank you for this world”.

Happy Earth Day, Friends.