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  • Writer's picturePhil




"We speak glibly and insensitively

about sharing another’s darkness.

We can never do this fully,

for no person can ever know fully what is going on in the deep regions of another’s being. Yet there is an affinity and solidarity which develops as a by-product of a common experience of darkness, even though the precise forms may differ.

There is a particular kind of darkness

which comes with the experience

of depression.

The experience of darkness is particularly acute in people with mental health issues.

The role of those who are with them

is primarily of “presence” rather than of skill or function.

In the care of those in dark times and places, silence is critical.

Ken Leech – "Doing Theology in Altab Ali Park” p.200

Gospel Reading from the Mass Lectionary for today.

John, in his gospel, associates Nicodemus, “the man who visited Jesus by night”, with Joseph of Arimathea, in the quiet task of anointing the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:39). Apart from brief but important appearances, these two men appear to have remained largely unknown in the ongoing life of the early Christian community, as recorded in the New Testament, but the nocturnal settings of Nicodemus’s enquiry, and the unobtrusive activity of the two men, have long made them a model for many anonymous and otherwise hidden aspects of Christian life and service.

John in this account, has Nicodemus come to Jesus out of the shadows, seeking Jesus the One who was to shine light into his darkness. May we, too, come to The Light that is Christ, and let Him shine into any darkness that is overwhelming us or another at this time.

JOHN Chapter 3 There was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.

He came to Jesus at night and said,

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing

if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

"The Cross stands between human fallen-ness and human fulfilment,

between dust and glory, between Eden and the new Jerusalem. It is at the point of our most-profound brokenness, at the shaking of the foundations of our being,

that Christ’s cross becomes for us a symbol of hope for the reversal of the forces of death. Ken Leech –

“We preach Christ crucified” p.97

Almighty God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ

ministered to the spiritual needs of Nicodemus under cover of darkness,

and was Himself in turn cared for quietly on the dark night of His death.

We thank you that the reverberation of such actions

continues until this present time,

and offers impetus and encouragement

to all who seek to meet the needs of those who are themselves in darkness.


Sometimes, we want to be there for someone but don't know how to start.

We recommend that if you're worried about someone, you try talking to them.

Having a face to face conversation isn't always possible, especially at the moment, but these principles can apply if you're having a chat on the phone, facetiming someone or if you're messaging them.

Please bear in mind though that it can be difficult to judge tone over messages, or on a videocall, so if you're unsure about what someone means, don't be afraid to ask.

It's okay if you're not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what's on their mind.


Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you feel able to, you could try something like:

“Last week I said … and I realise that was insensitive, so I’m sorry.

I'm still here for you.”

If someone is still feeling low after your conversation,

and if they may be struggling to cope,

it's probably a good idea that they get some support,

whether it is through talking to someone like a counsellor

or getting specific advice for their situation.

Useful questions you might ask:

  • ‘Have you talked to anyone else about this?’

  • ‘Would you like to get some help?’

  • ‘Would you like me to come with you?’

Or, for someone who is reluctant to get help:

  • ‘Do you have someone you trust you can go to? If it helps, you can talk to me any time.’

You can also suggest to your friend that the following may be useful:

Supporting someone in distress can be distressing in itself.

If you're helping someone who is very low or even suicidal, make sure you take care of yourself as well.

If you need to talk about how YOU are feeling in all this, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123,

or email on, whenever you need.

PSALM 139 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”even the darkness will not be dark to you;the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness

and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may

frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see Your hand, Your purpose,

Your will through all things. Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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