Long time ago in Bethlehem... oops - Boston again ... 17 Louisburg Square - I used to leap out of bed on winter mornings to see if the John Hancock Tower light was flashing red - indication that snow was on its way. I loved Boston and convent life, but my Canadian heart always longed for snow. In fact, I just discovered this ditty:
Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead.
If it had already snowed on a winter morning, joy filled my heart, and I danced (well not quite) to chapel.
Somewhere in those early Boston years, I wrote this poem:
to the sound
Prayer. Be. Be still. And I was.
Fast forward to Longueuil. It snowed last night - gently covering branches and turning the streets white. Joy so soft.
Snow has had other meanings through the years. Gram, who was my rock through the early years of chaos and what I now recognize as childhood depression, died in August 1964 when I was 17. That winter I remember standing in a raging storm, snow swirling around me, and thinking if I just knew the magic word I could somehow slip through into that other world and find her again - find peace. I never discovered the word, and am thankful I didn't. There was a great deal of life ahead for me.
During my breakdown/breakthrough in Boston, there were a great many storms, internal as well as raging snow (including the Storms of February '78) when I longed for that imagined peace. Dangerous times when life was very fragile and I clung to (or was held by) a thread. Snow called, or so I felt. Life won.
Lettie Cox, a prof in pastoral ministry in my last year of theology before ordination, told us that half the world has a depressive core. I asked about the other half. She said, "They're in denial." Mmmm...
Be still and listen...
I've spent a fair bit of time being so Busy the last 20 or 30 years - understatement? ;-) - that I haven't spent enough time listening to my own heart. It was all good stuff, of course - studying at university followed by Wonder-full and challenging ministry.
Now there is time for quiet, snow falls softly, and I can be aware and listen.
Two incidents on the week-end made me realize sharply (and I mean SHARPLY) how distracted I am these days. STOP! Be still and listen, Ros. And I am listening and realize the mists of depression are hovering round about and within. A series of losses are apt to tip the balance ... there it is again ... needing to be acknowledged and lived. Losses. I know what they are. I suppose the main ones are Mile End Mission, retirement (even if it's partial), Connie's death, recognition that the church sometimes refuses to do justice (that's called dis-illusionment) ...
So. the answer is not to run. The answer is to be still and listen to the sound of falling snow. To allow joy and peace to be in the midst of grief, depression, dis-illusionment or all of the above ... to acknowledge that triggers may cause the old fears that I'm falling into the Pit to raise their heads. Then I re-member the determination and courage through the years that have brought me to a place of health and strength. Depression no longer has the power it did in 1975 and years following. I remind myself.
Be still and listen. I'm no longer searching for the magic word to take me to Gram and Lorne, Mum and Dad and all the others whom I have loved. Life is now. Snowflakes are signs of joy. And I'm not alone.