I can see the moon from in between the slats of the blinds. My sweetheart sits across from me, plucking from his banjo alternately sweet and mournful tunes and looking very much the musician he is. A finished novel sits at my side, and I’m wearing a skirt, letting the balmy evening air seep in through the open window and over my skin. It is February. I have never been happier, I think.
And yet, I have been less happy. Much less happy.
Even less a week ago, I was a different person – someone who felt powerless over my emotions, whose reactions to the tiniest of grievances was overblown. I was moody, I was angry, I was sad, and I felt so very scared. What was this? Who was this person coming out of me? What were these words coming from my mouth, this darkness coming from my heart?
I don’t think I was depressed – nor have I even been before – but this period of the past three weeks marked one of the most frightening times in my life. I was the closest I have ever been to depression, and I didn’t know what to do. Part of the terror came from feeling that I had no control over my emotions nor my reactions, and part of it came from thinking that this ugliness came from the source of who I am.
Am I really this ugly? Is this who I really am inside, and it’s finally coming out for the world to see?
I was emotional, and yet I was without emotion – dead to feeling, to empathy, to compassion, to tears…and even now, writing this and remembering the despair I felt, I am welling up with sorrow and also joy.
Joy that I have been brought out of this valley to rejoice on the mountaintop. Joy that I have unconditional love surrounding me from all sides: from my family, from Andrew, from my roommates, from friends and others in the web of compassion around me, and most of all — grace from my heavenly Father in times of darkness and utter despondency.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. I once was dead, and now I have been made alive again.
I believe that we are put through trials to learn new things about the world and those around us and ourselves, and to learn what it really is to trust that our Creator has given us breath and life and keeps all of our steps in the palm of his hand. And I also believe that such a time as has recently passed in me was to remind me of how good I have it.
We journey through the depths of sorrow so as to better give thanks for every moment we have in the light.
Life is so beautiful, every little bit of it.
We wake up in the morning and birds sing, sometimes, and the sun shines, sometimes. And we drink our coffee or our tea and we go about our day, and sometimes we take a look up at the blue or grey sky, or perhaps see a crocus bud peeking out from the dark winter loam by our mailbox. Or we celebrate a birth, or we celebrate an engagement or a marriage and the new life that goes along with such events. Or we rejoice in the simplicity of a homemade meal prepared with love and care for nourishment, or we give thanks that we have a body healthy enough to walk to the grocery store or attend a yoga class. Or we find joy in human connection, even if it is solidarity and unity in the face of something terrible.
Life is so beautiful, every little bit.
Give thanks for the light, for the joys, for the times that are hard, for the tears that drip down cheeks and onto collarbones because you are feeling. You are living and, yes, you may be shrouded in melancholy and this is all you can see, but you are feeling and living and you will emerge whole and light again.
I know this from experience, and still I can smile and have a full heart.