Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Sir Winston Churchill, among my favorite historical figures, called it the "black dog." What was it? Dr. Sue Chance explains:
"Black Dog" was Churchill's name for his depression, and as is true with all metaphors, it speaks volumes. The nickname implies both familiarity and an attempt at mastery, because while that dog may sink his fangs into one's person every now and then, he's still, after all, only a dog, and he can be cajoled sometimes and locked up other times.

The man was in lustrous company - Goethe, Schumann, Luther, and Tolstoy to name but a few - all of them great men who suffered from recurrent depression. Who doesn't have at least a passing familiarity with the notion that depression sometimes acts as a spur to those of a certain temperament and native ability? Aware of how low they will sink at times, they propel themselves into activity and achievements the rest of us regard with awe.

And so it is the my own dark canine has decided to revisit me of late. He and I know each other well...too well. At times I thought I've had him tamed, but he still yips and nips at my heels all too often, sometimes throwing himself at my legs which sends me sprawling to the ground. Tonight he hit both knees. But I like how Dr. Chance described it. He is, after all, only a dog. How long he stays this time, I do not know.

The homily below is something I've had saved on my harddrive for so long I've forgotten the source. It has many good points, and I post it hear as much as a reminder for me, as well as an aide to those reading this. I know it's likely that it will be with me for the rest of my days in some fashion or other, but as Dr. Chance states above, I have used it at times for bursts of creativity and energy that surprises even myself. Perhaps the dog's return is a sign of another such burst to come?
We're all going to die. But before that happens, there's some serious healing that has to take place, not in our bodies, but in our spirits. Every one of us has been wounded in all sorts of ways: In part, by the way we were raised — what family isn't a little disfunctional?! In the course of time, we've been wounded by bad people and good people, by bad luck and good luck — by life.

There's another kind of wound we all carry: The self-inflicted wounds of our sins. Some of them have cut deep and done great damage to our spirits. But whatever their specifics, every one of our sins comes down to the same thing: Withholding our love, withholding our gifts when they need to be given. What terrible damage that always does to our spirits: The shrinking, the hardening, the pulling away, the turning in and closing off.

(Where do most depressions and mid-life crises come from? From unhealed and often un-named wounds that we've failed to attend to.)

However we got them, some of the wounds to our spirit are so deep that they can seem beyond healing. But Jesus assures us they're not. And Sunday's Gospel shows us where to begin: By naming our wounds clearly and specifically. That's what the lepers did: "We're rotting away, Lord. Heal us." Do we ever get that clear and that specific? Very rarely. And that's bad news, because unless we name our wound and claim it as our own and nobody else's, we'll never be able to give it to the Lord, wholly and entirely, for His healing. We'll never be quite ready to work with the Lord in that long, slow process by which souls are healed.

God wants every one of us to be whole, healed, and happy. So why waste one more minute just making do? Why not, instead, take time to look deep inside, see the wounds that may have been lurking there since childhood, name them out loud, claim them as our very own, and then give them to the Lord.

No doubt about it, the looking and the naming can make us sad, with all the thoughts of what might have been. And giving the hurts and wounds entirely to God will take a long time. They are so much a part of us, it's hard to let them go! But the payoff is a whole new life. Why not let the Lord help us get started now? Name the wound, claim it, and give it to the Lord.

"Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest," says the Lord.


At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a razor blade filled with judgment and dripping with hatred to my wrists once long ago.. just wanted to see if I wanted to die. Well, turns out I didn't want to, tho' I couldn't go on living either.. not without the Lord.. so I cried out to Him to give me some reason to live, if He really cared.. He really cares. I bear a 20-stitch scar on one arm.. but now when I see it, I remember only His tenderness, slowly leading me to abundant life. I worked the 12 Steps of Spirituality years ago, as well as 12 Steps in the Bible (Michele Matto)..as faith sharing groups, led by depressed priest.. I'd had no idea I was so dysfunctional.. yes, we are all broken.. the 12 steps were miraculously healing. Before that, I'd watched a boy on a boat, who had just twisted his ankle badly, howl and scream every time it twinged -- he was getting it out of his system. Wait... it's ok to howl and scream? Then why didn't I do that when I broke my foot? I never made a noise. I hobbled home, without a noise. So with the Steps, I just wanted to get to a point where I could speak (or howl) of pain. Well, I did. :-) Just get there somehow..put it out there. It really is ok to howl. Christ understands all the ways and means, all the tears, all the despair, all the ugly thoughts, all the desperate prayers.. He is right there with us.. if we're quiet enough, we can almost hear His heart.


Post a Comment

<< Home