Most people who read my blog will know that I am struggling with a severe bout of depression at the moment, this is not something I am trying to hide, nor am I ashamed of it, it simply is. I guess that it is something I am prone to, some people are, others aren’t, it requires rest and treatment ( yes I do take medication), and most of all a real honesty with myself.
To say that I am surprised to find myself here would be an understatement, this time last year I had just moved to Sheffield, had begun setting up the Manse and was looking forward to beginning a new chapter of life and ministry. In many ways that anticipation remains.
What I had underestimated however, was the enormous amount of energy that it took me to make that new beginning, from clearing out the old Manse, sorting books and other bits of life accumulated over years and getting ready to make a new start kept me very busy, but it was perhaps more costly than I had imagined. It required a letting go that whilst necessary has thrown into full focus just how much my life has changed.
A 32 year marriage has come to an end, I suspect that it was necessary for both of us, and while heartbreaking is also a good and healthy thing, though to say that in Christian circles is challenging to say the least! Too often we demand perfection, especially from our ministers, and as a minister sometimes seeking help is difficult, enough now to say though that I am choosing to walk the path of grace and forgiveness especially towards myself because I find myself the hardest person to forgive!
My children have all left home and are busy building their own lives, this is wonderful and right, and I would not have it any other way, but it leaves my once bustling and busy life remarkably changed. Of course none of them have ever lived in this home with me, but just maybe that is part of the grief and emptiness I feel, but it is also an opportunity to pause and ask myself who I now am!
I spent some time yesterday at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, it is one of my favourite places, one of the exhibitors Tony Cragg’s exhibition is entitled “A rare category of objects”, an open air sculpture, Elliptical Column, is made from stainless steel, and stands tall in the formal gardens, reflecting the scenery around it. As it twists and turns upwards those reflections take on different forms, much like they do in the far cruder hall of mirrors in a fairground. I spent sometime taking photos of this, reflecting that my life has twisted and turned and changed in ways that I would not have expected, and that I really do find myself more than a little disorientated. Taking time to take stock, to find my feet and to re-orientate myself include the necessary act of lamenting and letting go, that which I had done physically I am now doing emotionally and mentally, and dare I say even spiritually for on this journey my realisation of the patience, love and grace of God has grown and deepened. A strange gift of brokenness perhaps, but a gift nonetheless.
I moved on to walk the grounds, making my way down to the lakeside, around and then back up the hill. At this point my foot was aching, having torn the ligaments a few months before it is still healing, because of this I did something I have not done before; I followed the paths back up the hill. Now that might seem like an obvious thing to do, but the shortest way to the top of the hill is just to go for it and not to stick to the paths which meander slowly taking the slower, longer and less steep route! As I walked the paths it occurred to me that in my rush to “be better”, I have not been allowing myself the time nor the space to heal, I have wanted to rush things, to take the shorter route, and in doing so I have not been allowing the Spirit’s work in my life in the way that I have needed it.
To say I am bruised and battered, I am not whole, I am struggling is not the easiest thing to do, but that is where I am. So, this time, I am choosing not to rush things, I am choosing to reflect, to let go, and to recieve the gifts of life that come through grief, lament, and change. I will look for the rebuilding of life and allow it to slowly emerge, bit by bit, step by step. I am already overwhelmed by the love and care I am being shown by people here, and by those who send messages and comments. I am not alone, many have walked similar paths, many know the reality of depression, many are simply bruised and battered by life, and many face challenges and unexpected changes just as I am.
In our fast changing world, and in a church that finds itself disorientated by change I wonder if my experience may, when I have had time to process and heal, be a gift in a strange way….
I wonder, but right now I am simply giving myself to the process, a life lesson in itself!