Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Disjointed thoughts on wearing an apron on Easter Sunday and my months of magical thinking

A friend who is now working in Canada for the Naramata Centre, which looks like a wonderful centre for spiritual refreshment, posted to facebook about Resurrection as a spiritual practice. It set me thinking about what that might mean for me this Easter. I have been very aware of a personal anniversary on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, of a letter I wrote and sent a year ago and of its consequences.
Many of you will have gathered that in recent months - actually I'm shocked to realise that it is not only recent months but quite a lot longer than that - things have been difficult. I've been fortunate that I have never entirely lost my laughter but I have struggled with desperate sadness, depression and suicidal feelings for long months. Some of it has its roots situationally, some personally.
During this time friends and mere aquaintances have seen me in tears more often than I can remember crying in the whole of the rest of my adult life. Some mornings I would wake up already weeping and not knowing why. Despite "knowing" quite a bit about depression I found experiencing this very distressing. Even now I wonder whether it is the path of integrity to try to write about it, and please I don't want sympathy. There was one day when I realised that I was living without any sense of future - for any serious theologian this is a pretty shocking realisation. Fortunately I'm not all that serious ... :-)
In "resurrection as a spiritual practice" this in particular triggered something for me "Find meaning in your experiences and speak the truth to power, and you help put death in its place."
It reminded me of standing next to many gravesides and throwing in earth, a way of both symbolizing and making real the fact that even though we love the one who is dead we are not buried with them.
Sometimes the only way we can put death in its place is by that separation. Sometimes the only thing to do is to shake dust off your feet and name the forces of death for what they are and put them in their place. I was struck by this at morning prayer today as we read St John Chysostom's Easter sermon - repeatedly and poetically he puts death in its place: "hell was in turmoil having been eclipsed." Resurrection begins when we name and identify death for what it is, leave it in its place and let life surge beyond and above it.
Sometimes of course part of that death which needs to be put in its rightful place is within each of us, is within me. When you're depressed dealing with that in a guilt free way is particularly difficult.
On Sunday I put on an apron as I was cooking - I am a very messy cook and should acutally wear an apron more often than I do in the kitchen. The apron says "woman with attitude", I was still wearing it when our guests arrived and it made them smile. Throughout all these months I have been fortunate to have remained in some way myself, essentially a woman with attitude, but it has been hard at times. And I think that the worst times have been those times when I have begun to take myself and my pain too seriously. I'm sure I have been desperately boring at times.
The apron belonged to my friend Suzanne, who took her own life. Wearing it on Easter Sunday was a tiny act of resistance against the forces of depression and death. Even when I weep I shall be a woman with attitude. Also I was able to wear her apron because I know that I have, so far at least, received enough support not to take the same path she did.
Somehow I find strength in vulnerability and hope to rediscover generosity.
This morning we listened to the story of the resurrection in Mark's gospel - the empty tomb. The emptiness of possibility, the void, the germ of transformation, the menace or threat of resurrection.
Joan Didion called the account of grieving for her husband the Year of Magical Thinking and I have understood that more clearly as I ploughed through these months of mess. Depression is in some way magical thinking.
Learning to leave behind the obsessive meandering of the the grief-stricken depressive mind is perhaps the threat of resurrection for me this Eastertime - and please don't get me wrong this is not a judgement on others, just my path now. I hope.
So I suppose that this writing is in someways also more magical thinking. I know that as I have managed to get back to blogging I have begun to feel better and that as I have returned to reading I have felt the same. I also know that I have been very fortunate, I have not lost laughter or love completely and I have been blessed with friendship.
I wish I could say I feel I am a better person for going through all of this but I know quite clearly that I am not. Perhaps when I am at last able to forgive myself for that as well as much else I shall truly know that I am feeling better. John Chrysostom put it like this:
Let no one mourn that (s)he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Each of us has to find what works for us. May you find yours if this is has also been part of your experience. May forgiveness of ourselves and of others rise from the grave for all of us.
Let's be people with attitude!

1 Comment:

Mavis said...

I like the connection(s) between teh thoughts