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JOHN 3 – Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness:

“There was a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Pharisee party and a leader in the Jewish nation. Late one night he came to speak with Jesus. He said, “Rabbi, we recognize that God has sent you as a teacher and that God is with you. How else could you do these things which are so clearly the work of God?”

Nicodemus came to Jesus from out of the darkness.

Depression has been described

as walking towards the sunset, the precursor to darkness....

The light is there, but you know that the darkness

isn’t more than a heartbeat away.

SHEILA CASSIDY is an English doctor, known for her work in the hospice movement, as a writer and as someone who, by publicising her own history as a torture survivor, drew attention to human rights abuse in Chile in the 1970s.

When I was only half-way through writing this book (“Sharing the Darkness – the Spirituality of Caring”), I became depressed and quite unable to write. I found it particularly hard since I had set aside the quiet summer months to complete the work and there I was, with time in hand, but “deserted by my muse”.

What seems to be happening to me is that when I am high, I misjudge my capacity for work and other endeavours, and take on more things than I have strength for.

This folly is compounded by the fact that my fertile imagination dreams up a dozen different schemes of research, broadcasting, education or expanding and improving the care for the dying, and then I set about convincing people that I propose to implement them. Were I not also extremely articulate, this would probably not matter and I would be laughed into submission by my colleagues, but when I am on form I can convince almost anyone of the virtue and viability of my ideas! Thus it is that, like Ogden Nash, I find myself praying: -

Dear Lord, observe on bended knee

This visage meek and humble,

And heed this confidential plea,

Voiced in a reverent mumble.

I ask no miracles nor stunts,

No heavenly radiogram;

I only ask for once, just once,

To not be in a jam.

One little moment thy servant craves

Of being his own master;

One placid vale between the waves

Of duty and disaster.

Let me not bite more off the cob

Than I have teeth to chew;

Please let me finish just one job

Before the next is due.

It always takes me a long time to accept the connection between the overspending of emotional energy and the depression that follows.

If it hit me the next day, perhaps I would learn my lesson,

but it doesn’t happen that way.

While I am in the middle of it all I ride high and think I am coping beautifully

– but then things start to go wrong – the first is my sleep,

as the commitments of the next few months rise up

in serried rows to mock me… “Now you’ve done it!” the voices say

“You’ll make a fool of yourself and no-one will ever respect you again!”

“You’ll lose your job!” On and on it goes – I see myself (because that’s what I hear)

as a total failure, drowning in a sea of guilt, misery and despair.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

You are far from my pleas and the cry of my distress.

My God, I call by day and you give no reply;

I call by night, and I find no peace.

Psalm 21:1-2, Grail Psalter

When I am very low, I search desperately for someone to pull me out.

I talk about it to those who support me, and I long for some magic pill to work a miracle and restore me to good spirits and high energy. The really hard thing to accept is that I have to, somehow, make my own way to the mouth of the cave.

(to be continued tomorrow)

Lord, it is dark. Lord, are you here in my darkness?

Your light has gone out, and so has its reflection

on all people and things around me. It wouldn’t matter, except that I am alone. You have taken me far, Lord; trusting, I followed you, and you walked at my side, and now, suddenly you have disappeared. I call, and you do not answer. I search, and I do not find you. I have left everything,

and now I am left alone. Your absence is my suffering.

Lord, it is dark. Lord, are you here in my darkness? Michel Quoist

May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May those who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent. May those who have the flexibility to care for our children when schools close remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel a trip remember those who have no safe place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May those who settle for quarantine at home remember those who have no home. As fear grips our country, let us choose love during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace to God and our neighbour. - Prayer by Cameron Wiggins Bellm

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