All of life’s troubles got to me the other day, and I started wishing I was a kid again. But when I stood on my box to look in the mirror, there I was, an old fellow with black circles around the eyes and lifetime wrinkles down the face.
I guess we’re all depressed, at least part of the time—although I caught the butcher at the store whistling the other day, and two of my grandkids are full of joy that they are riding bicycles for the first time.
County Commissioner Bob Hein even said this week that a Hillsboro merchant told him his sales are up 15 percent for the past four months.
Baah, humbug, what does he know? Don’t they know this is the time for an economic depression as called for by the great minds of national leadership?
How can he be having a good time when those poor national banks have suffered so? How dare he find happiness when General Motors is taking bankruptcy.
Funny word, depression. It’s interesting how we change it to fit both the economic depression and the emotional depression and the plain old, doggoned depressing.
In the nine years I have covered the Marion County Board of Commissioners for the Free Press, every time our chief mental health group comes to ask for money, they always say depression is Marion County’s biggest problem. Apparently thousands of county residents struggle with depression, and some of them end up needing help.
Depression seems to be highly entangled with fear. Remember when Franklin Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself? War and economics can be depressing stuff.
Death and taxes are the inevitable things we cite that are closely related to war and economics. Some of our county residents can have legitimate reasons for some depression as they suffer the fears of livelihood loss, estrangement, ill health and death of themselves or loved ones.
But depression can lead to some of the best stuff in us, too. It can call us to new levels of thought and sanity when considering it emotionally, or it can call us “to pull ourselves up by our own boot straps” economically.
My father died in December 2007, followed, as so often happens with the elderly who love each other, by his wife, my stepmother, little more than a year later. The deaths of folks like these can bring on depression.
Instead, for me, their deaths have brought on contemplation. The realization hit me at the funeral and dinner for my stepmother that the only reason I knew many of the people there was because of her. She was our connection.
Without her, I most probably wouldn’t see many of them again unless I chose to keep up on our relationships.
I do believe in a creator God who stands between us and death as outlined for us by Jesus, and I don’t believe our relationships are accidental.
That can be a comfort to stave off depression, a balm for the weak who can’t stand on their own as an agnostic friend would have it. But more importantly it’s a great mental exercise and insight for our own development.
This would be true whether we are thinking about the trials economic depression will bring us, or the trials of emotion, keeping our sanity, worries about the environment, whatever is battering us now.
I am thankful for the depression that leads me to the joy of self-realization.
Many of you know I write books, and have recently published poetry for the first time. I am going to share a poem I wrote with you here. I know from Internet count and correspondence it’s the most read poem I have written. It concerns depression and fear, and I hope it helps you.
My friend and fellow author, Mike Klaassen, tells me that, next to him, I am the most shameless promoter of my own work that he knows.
That’s a great compliment. But I assure you, I am sharing this because it came from my depths, and turned sadness to happiness.
The poem is called “When Dark Chaos Overcomes Me.”
* * *
When dark chaos overcomes me,
tearing deeply to open my breast,
then He caresses my weak soul,
and peace overflows me,
like a river in the flood
washing away the debris,
the overwhelming frustrations
of black, entangling clutter.
And when the flood subsides,
the channel cleared revealed,
great springs of purest water
well up from the depths
of the whirling spirit,
and there is joy overwhelming,
like lightning over the tumult
that bids the beast decease.
Creation released abundantly,
the happiness is rushing
in bountiful streams within,
of safety and security,
the deep water’s great
and caring Friend.