Here it comes. I can feel it dragging me down. It’s that old Christmas visitor that gets inside my head and body and drags me down. Turns me into the walking dead. Every motion takes effort. Every happy thought becomes a challenge to hold onto. Every social encounter requires a double effort. I feel like crawling into a hole but I rise to the work of listening and engaging. It’s exhausting.
Maybe it’s the grey skys. I’m taking vitamin D against the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The grey days have been outnumbering the sunny lately. I make extra efforts to be outside when the sun is with us.
Maybe it’s the cold. Is it a coincidence that this condition comes on with the first of the snow? Is it the thought of the long winter ahead that gets me down? While I’m as ready as the next person by March for the warm winds to come, I do prefer a cold wind to a hot breeze. Call me crazy. Call me Canadian.
I’ve consulted with doctors about medications. Doses of homeopathic Chocolate have helped in past seasons. I’ve consulted with counselors about spiritual practices to aid me. Meditation is working wonders.
My life might best be described as overwhelmingly full and chaotic just beyond any hope of keeping control. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If things calmed down I’d have to go looking for a new batch of impossible missions to get entangled in. How else to live where GOD lives?
No doubt it’s a combination of all of the above. My family knows to pull back and give me a wide berth during these early days of the season. It’ll pass, I’ll adjust to “it” - they know. “It” has nothing to do with events – good news or bad news doesn’t matter much – “it” just arrives. Or perhaps another way to describe “it” is – I depart.
The winds that whistle at my window bring from the four corners of the earth the cries of the innocent and they sweep me away. My heart goes to a place of darkness. The coming of the Christ is announced with “the people living in darkness have seen a great light.” My heart goes to the place where those people wait. It seems whether I like or not – however I treat body and soul – I am transported to where the pain is.
I feel the wounds of Christ. I am touched by the sadness of the MAKER. I visit the horrible suffering of GOD’s creatures. I get a glimpse of what GOD sees fully all the time. My heart fills with the sorrows of strangers and the damn of daily blindness breaks and my life floods with pain. As I write this, trying to tell you what “it” is like - I am overtaken with weeping and I cry out in waves of grief.
Only if you were in the room with me would you know how real it is. It’s not some philosophic trouble - not some mental disturbance - it’s the gut wrenching agony that GOD’s beloved experience at the senseless waste of poverty, injustice, genocide, environmental degradation and just plain old inescapable personal tragedy.
The GOD who calls me and shapes me into a minister should know better. You’d think GOD would know that what people want at this time of year are cheery tales that warm hearts, happy carols that lift the spirits, hopeful and wise remarks about how good life is after all. You’d think GOD would know that the last thing people want is to be reminded about how ugly life is, how ruthlessly its victims suffer, how the cold powers of greed prevail still against the mighty efforts of charity and peace.
Peace is what I started to write about this morning. How can I tell you about peace when there is this war raging in my own heart? I can rant and rave about the ignorance of others, about the injustice of corporate greed pulling the strings of our personal and political lusts. I could urge us all to be a little more kind and generous at this time of year. Fill up the food banks and send cheques to good causes. All true and good things. It’ll help, but it won’t stop the suffering.
I’ll turn this computer off now. Light a candle and in the morning’s dark, listen. Listen for the whisper of the ONE who comes, who knows, who makes me - and takes all I have to give - to be the hands of Christ. And I know that to have the hands of Christ is to first share in his heart. And in his heart is the suffering I cannot bear alone. To know his Joy is to first enter into the place where Peace is losing ground and I throw my life – all of it – into service. What else can I do?