I went for a walk with my sweetie down the forest path near our house and it went from misty to down-right raining. We were too far from the house to run… so we strolled instead and let ourselves get soaked.
We found Slippery Jack mushrooms growing on the path–slimy on one side, spongy on the other side. Apparently really tasty when grilled.
We came upon a huge patch of yellow Saint John’s Wort flowers in bloom and picked some to make into tea.
We watch tiny spiders weaving strange webs across the path, glistening with rain drops.
My hair got soaked and plastered to my head. We kissed in the rain.
And I somehow felt this aching sadness that was behind my heart reflected in the world around me… and yet felt closer to myself at the same time.
Depression is a feeling I’ve struggled with at times my life. And yes, I mean struggled. I’ve gone through big stretches of time where I’ve felt so down that I lost sense of what made life meaningful–sometimes for no apparent reason.
Depression is one of the feelings we can most want to run from… it makes the hard times feel worse and coats the good times in a blanket of grey. There can also be a stigma about it in our culture: What do you say to someone who feels depressed?
But today, on the forest path, I felt the wisdom of depression… the wisdom of the part of me that is dark and calls me inward. It feels soft, delicate and almost creative. It wants me to rest — to take long naps in fact — and to be by myself. It makes it impossible to move through the world from forcing, efforting, will and achievement. It can bring me down to my knees, where the only thing I can do is pray… but then I’m praying, and suddenly Grace can find me. It moves me into allowing, humility and surrender.
Today I felt the truth that there is magic in the darkness… but that it will only reveal itself if we befriend it and stop trying to run from it.
Like today. No matter how fast I would have run, I wouldn’t have been able to outrun the rain. I could have run, resisted, gotten resentful that it was raining on my walk, become mad at myself for not bringing a raincoat, or stopped having fun… but I was going to get soaked one way or another. Life had bigger plans than my personal preferences.
The same is true for depression (or sadness, loneliness etc): its usually not what we’re planning for, not what we’d prefer, and we can outrun it for a little while… but ultimately that doesn’t work.
But what if — instead of depression being a sign that you are not on the right path or that there is something wrong — there is something natural to it, just like the rain?
When we run from what is inside of us, it doesn’t just go away. When we resist it, it only makes us miserable, and we miss out on what Life is bringing to us. But when we practice befriending what is inside of us, including depression, it has the possibility of transforming us.
Like today, if I had tried to run, I would have missed the mushrooms and flowers and spiders and all the little beautiful parts of life that were blooming and growing in the rain.
It is sometimes worth getting soaked.
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