I wanted to follow up the darkness post with something “lighter”, so chose the Tolkien quote, because it does a pretty good job of summing up what I hope you glean from this post. I cannot promise this will be my last “preachy” post, but this is part of the experience I went through on the road out of my depression. The darkness of depression is many times referred to as the “long dark night of the soul” by many Christian counselors as the period of wandering in the proverbial wilderness, where you feel abandoned, alone and in despair. Then God breaks through the darkness as the sun at daybreak and all is renewed and reborn.
Having researched the source of the quote, however, I believe that misses the mark somewhat. In the poem Dark Night, St. John of the Cross defines the experience as the growth into a deeper relationship with God through a purification and expunging of all that is impure. The individual is led by the light of the soul through the darkness as the soul makes its way to God. It is the systematic journey of moving away from the darkness into the light. I think this is significantly more interesting than the construct of suffering through despair and depression seemingly abandoned by God, because it focuses on the notion of the internal light of the divine drawing us step by step out of the darkness of our lives to a deeper, purer relationship with Him. It is the process of being redeemed, rather than the process of being saved. Salvation brings us hope, while redemption brings us wholeness of life.
This is also why I believe depression is so difficult to treat. I truly believe there are chemical imbalances and many other contributing factors that have to be dealt with in the treatment of depression and other forms of psychological impairment, but I believe these only manage the impairment. I also believe there is a spiritual factor, which God uniquely addresses in each one individually, to bring them to wholeness, healing and release from the spiritual darkness. While depression can be managed, I truly believe it can only be overcome through this combination of salvation, and more importantly, redemption.
Having a desire to keep this short and light, I will close with a very interesting, little-known “fact”* about God. (*Note: May not be true) God’s name is Andy. We know this from the hymn “In the Garden” where it tells us “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me… Happy Memorial Day and have a great weekend!