Spiritual crowd surf

Today I heard from my young lady of Shalott. She is half sick of shadows and short a decent Lancelot. She writes me about every two months. She is willowy fair and lovely and loved. She’s articulate and soulful and suffers from a mental disorder, she knows. But knowledge doesn’t shake the darkness. And it doesn’t give her an answer to, “Why should I live?”concert-crowdsurfing-festival-fun-holiday-Favim.com-271210

I’ve had a hard time writing lately because I am desperately compelled to seek out an answer. There are a few people in my life suffering from crippling depression. Christmas followed by January…tends to be some dark months. One of my dearest oldest friends also suffers. There is nothing I can say, I’ve learned that much. It isn’t for me to say. Presumptuous. But silence is deadly. It is impossible to find the right words.

It is about listening. I’ve learned that much.

But – she does deserves an answer. One that satisfies. Because she is brave enough to ask the question instead of just quietly hiding, dying away. And I am not going to spout her scripture or platitudes or beautiful hopeful well meaning poetry. So what do I do?

I offer a stumbling mantra of sorts. You are loved, you are lovely, you are needed, you are God’s, you are loved. She asks, “But what do I contribute?” She is contributing. If nothing else, someone who asks such questions, someone who makes us have to move out of our circle of selfishness – is absolutely vital to our spiritual health. “A burden” she calls herself. I call it “gift”. She says “too heavy to lift”.

I head out to the Cross fit gym to get out of my head. it is an every-other-day practice. I go to stretch myself. I go to run. Hard. I go to lift heavy weights. I lift to the point where I can’t lift anymore. The more I do this, the stronger I am. It gives me energy. This is the greatest of mysteries. It prolongs my life. At one point, with the bar bell over my head, I realize I’m lifting something about the size of a woman. And in my mind I picture my lady of Shalott being lifted and carried over the heads of friends and family who take turns to bear her weight with her, a moment here, a moment there. A sort of spiritual Cross fit crowd surfing.

And suddenly the whole scenario is turned on its head. She suffers in order for us to exercise?! Can’t say as that’s much comfort either. Can’t say as that sounds fair. And then I have to ask, “Why do I think life is fair?” And then I retort with the usual, “What kind of loving God…” which of course is answered with, “What do you know about Love and God? You are only now learning the more energy you expend, the more you gain. The more love you expend the more you gain…and that’s taken you forty years, Lucia…”

I stop short.

She didn’t ask for comfort. She didn’t ask for fair. She asked, “Why should I live?”

I most meekly have an answer I am too sheepish to share. But the only one I really have licence to give.

“for me.”

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  1. Charlotte

    Ah, those life paradoxes that challenge us.
    – ‘the more you love, the more love you receive’
    – ‘the more energy you expend, the more you gain’
    – the more money you give away, the more you get ( not the shopping kind, but the benevolent kind – Malachi 3:10)
    – the more you choose to see the good in yourself and all around you, the more your eyes will open to see even more goodness

    I’m learning it’s about choice, it’s about focus, it’s about discipline to keep on the good road. When you let a discipline slip, the flab returns, the poverty returns, the negative spirit returns,

    I once walked the depression road, the black hole threatened to swallow me. It would have been very easy to simply fall into it. A challenge to write down anything I was grateful for sat on my shoulder, that little voice, and it would not leave. It became so annoying I decided to write down one thing – I have a roof over my head. It was a tin roof that rattled unbearably in the wind. “There!” I shouted angrily while throwing the notebook and pen onto my bedside table then retreating completely back under the covers. It calmly, quietly, prompted, “and, what else?” It would not shut up so I threw off the covers, sat up and kept writing, simple things like ‘I have food to eat’, ‘ I have people that love me in spite of hating myself, etc etc. A half hour later I climbed out of the black hole and I have never returned into it, though I have stood at the edge, looking, considering if I should once again allow myself to fall in. The ladder of gratitude was my way out of depression. The discipline of gratitude is still an exercise I must utilize everyday.

    I am not attempting to be trite. I have experienced poverty, depression, and flab. I’m still working on all of them and the road is getting easier with each step.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      “poverty depression and flab” I love that line so much!!! Thank you for this, Charlotte, so gracious of you to share this. And I’m so glad you built your ladder.

  2. Leah

    this was so beautiful as was Charlotte comments. thanks to both of you marvellous women.

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