Tag Archives: Depression

July 4, readings from Mary Webb, III: Feel the Zest.

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When participation in man’s keen life is denied, it is not strange if laughter dies. In the sirocco of pain it is not surprising if joy and faith are carried away.

So many sit by the wayside begging, unconscious that the great Giver is continually passing down the highways and hedges of nature, where each weed is wonderful. So many are blind and hopeless, yet they have only to desire vision, and they will see that through His coming the thickets are quickened into leaf and touched with glory.

samaritanwoman

Out in this world the spirit that was so desolate, lost in the strange atmosphere of physical inferiority, may once more feel the zest that he thought was gone for ever. And this zest is health: sweeping into the mind and into those recesses of being beyond the conscious self, it overflows into the body. Very often this great rush of joy, this drinking of the freshets of the divine, brings back perfect health. Even in diseases that are at present called incurable, and that are purely physical, no one will deny the immense alleviation resulting from this new life.

Zest – the grated rind of lemon or orange – is a small ingredient with a big punch. Let’s use our imaginations when our friends are ill. A letter can be put by till they are ready to read it, but it may be read many times; a picture postcard can be propped by the bedside; a visit of a few minutes may bring a rush of joy; as might sitting outside with a friend. Mary Webb had been there, and her disease was called incurable.

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25 May: The Builder’s Dog without the Ossyrians.

buildersdog.1 (800x670)

The Builder’s Dog in his Hi-Vis coat was wary when he entered Will’s place. Were those Chihuahuas around? Nor scent nor sound nor scratch marks on the gate. All was well, except that he had a stretch of time, impossible to contemplate, without his mistress who could not take him on her sunshine holiday.

The food was good – exactly the same as at home, except for treats like scraps of Sunday dinner. The walks were OK, except that the Mistress was not there and Will and Mrs T avoided walking down BD’s home street. But the park and Abbot’s Hill were full of smells that humans were utterly unaware of.

It was coming down Abbot’s Hill one evening that BD gave Will his reward. Or was it the other way blackcaparound? An urgent, complicated overlay of scented canine communication required close study, and BD was pleasantly surprised not to feel the lead jerk. Will, too, was fixed to the spot. He was listening to a Blackcap, perched in a suburban Japanese cherry tree, singing his heart out, ignoring the human and dog below.

As Will said later, there’s always something to be grateful for. And he enjoyed another little link as he researched this post: according to Wikipedia, the Blackcap’s song provided the theme for Saint Francis when that famous bird lover Olivier Messiaen wrote his Opera, Saint François d’Assise. Not just any bird then!

Blackcap by Ron Knight

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8 April: Edward Thomas’ Anniversary

The Cherry Trees

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,

On the old road where all that passed are dead,

Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding,

This early May morn when there is none to wed. 

The photograph shows an orchard of new cherry trees at Amery Court, Canterbury. They will spend their spring-times protected from ravages of wind, rain, and birds and squirrels by nets rolled out on frames overhead. Few petals will reach the old road, now part of Cycle Route 1 from Dover to Scotland. But the farmer trusts that the expense of planting these trees will be repaid with many a harvest.

Edward Thomas and so many like him trusted that they were putting their lives on the line to help save England and bring about the end of War…

Also tomorrow we remember the Prince of Peace coming into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, not a tank or armoured car. And it is still not too late to pray and strive for Peace, starting by sowing a seed of love and peace in our own hearts.

And may Edward Thomas and all who fell in War, through the mercy of God, rest in Peace. Amen.

MMB

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10 February: The Lord hears and answers

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Today is Friday in the Fifth week in Ordinary time. It is also the memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin.
In the Gospel of today, Saint Mark 7: 31- 37, Christ healed a man with an impediment in his speech. He also had ear problems. Jesus took him aside in private, then He looked up to heaven and sighed. What does this sigh mean to you? He turned to God with a heavy heart. He made a request from God the Father Who looked into His heart and answered Him – the man’s ears opened and he began to speak clearly.
Saint Scholastica, who was consecrated to God as a virgin, went to visit her brother Saint Benedict, as she usually did once a year.  She went on this very day and as her brother wanted to leave her, she asked him to stay but he refused. Scholastica turned to God in silence and with a heavy heart, and God answered her with a very heavy rain, so that her brother could not leave her again that night.
How often do you turn to God for your problems with a heavy heart? Christ turned to God the Father with a sigh for someone who was sick to be healed and God the Father answered him. Saint Scholastica turned to God and God answered her. What is it that you are struggling with today; is it sickness, lack of a job, no promotion, failure, lack of faith, lack of identity? Please do turn to God today just the way that you are feeling right now and He will answer you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God never changes.

FMSL

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April 5: Station II – Jesus came and walked with them.

Jesus came and walked with them,

but their eyes were held and they did not recognise him… [14-18]

 

Notice what is happening here. These two disciples are totally absorbed in what they’re talking about when they suddenly become aware of someone walking alongside them. They have no idea who this stranger is, and if we are to be with them —and learn with them—it is important that we don’t know either. It’s enough to notice the effect it has on them: they stop talking, and when he asks them what they’ve been talking about, ‘the two stood still, looking sad’. That simple question, asked by a stranger, stops them in their tracks and takes them to a new level of awareness—behind all their words there is a deep sadness, which shows in their faces.

That brief glimpse into what they are feeling, takes them to the heart of what is troubling them; it’s not about the surface detail of all the terrible things that have happened, but about what it all means…or does it mean anything? The stranger’s question strikes home in this way, and for a moment they can only stop talking and be silently aware of the weight of their feelings. It is an invitation to them to tell him what they have been talking about, but he will help them to do that in a deeper way, as they re-live the experience and register its personal emotional impact.

What is this like for us today?

What if a stranger came, clearly interested in what we’re talking about but apparently knowing nothing about what’s been happening—or not happening—in the Church? How would we react/respond?

  • Would we be like these two disciples? They were astonished that anyone could fail to know ‘what has been happening in Jerusalem these past few days’. But before that they are suddenly aware of what they’re feeling—what really matters is not what has happened in Jerusalem but how deeply they have been affected by it: sad, angry, confused, near despair… ‘Where is God?’That may be a place where we can stop too. Before saying any more about what has happened, or what it is that ‘makes us’ sad or angry, or whatever, in the Church: let the stranger’s question put us in touch with ourselves.
  • Where am I in this story [of what is happening in the Church]?
  • And what has happened, or is happening in me, as the story unfolds?
  • Why does it bother me so much? Why does it ‘weigh’ on me in the way it does?

JMcC

Milestone, Forth ad Clyde Canal, MMB.

 

 

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A Bridge too Far?

from pedestrian entrance

Dover Castle from pedestrian entrance over drawbridge

Midnight. I have a Polish music station in the background, playing Arnold’s suite from The Bridge on the River Kwai. I’m supposed to be absorbing something of the cadences of Polish spoken well, so Thank God for the Internet!

The music has helped crystallise some of today’s experiences. I accompanied someone with depression around Dover Castle, including the World War II tunnels. The only river we crossed was the tiny Dour beside the park as we crossed town.

It was a bright, even a warm day, France clearly visible, and the anchorage for Napoleon’s Grande Armée which never arrived on these shores. Not far out of site, the beaches of Dunkirk, from whence a greater army did make the crossing. The Castle itself a place of military power for 2000 years at least. (And well worth a visit.)

My friend had wanted to see the tunnels, though neither of us expected the displays to be so graphic in their images of death and near death at Dunkirk. I should not have been surprised that at the end of the tour he just wanted to go home; I hope crossing the drawbridge was not a bridge too far for him.

And now we have a Schubert serenade playing, turning hopeful as the music makes itself felt.

Perhaps I was my friend’s ministering angel today; I’ll see how he feels the next time we meet, after he’s digested it. Arnold and Schubert have certainly been angels for me this evening.

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On Not Taking Nothing for Granted.

raincloudsCaernarfon

Rain clouds near Caernarfon, April 2015.

Edward Thomas’s love of the natural world speaks to me, and his love of his children. Yet he was prone to depression and deep negativity. He was married and a father when he wrote:

I am alone. There is nothing else in my world but my dead heart and brain within me and the rain without.

Quoted by Robert Macfarlane in Landmarks, Hamish Hamilton, 2015, p245.

Thomas would walk his moods off, or at least try to. Walking, and observing.

Another observer is Fr James Kurzynski, an astronomer, for whom the heavens proclaim the Lord. He repeats Paul’s challenge:

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

ww.vofoundation.org/blog/o-death-sting-exploring-mystery-life-death/

The whole post is worth reading more than once. Kurzynski reminds us that Jesus was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed out of his loneliness. He did not take Nothing for for granted, but wrestled with it, and the angels ministered to him.

Sometimes wrestling with Nothing may mean carrying on ‘as if’ – as if all is well. We may not be able to pray as Jesus did, we may find it tempting to turn away from the Father, but our walk might well be to our own Emmaus: a friend may walk with us, angels may minister to us. We may only recognise them later. (Luke 24)

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