My SAD ode

gray sky, clouds

Wintry sullen o’ercast days
remind me of mine end. ‘Tis not as far ‘way
as ‘twas years afore.
Surely, I’ve lived more than I shall live.
Still, with each indrawn breath,
I hear eternity’s melody;
my very heart a choral-chamber
echoing the harmony of endless days.

 

Endnote: Annually, winter’s earthbound grey skies trigger the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, among them, flagging energy, lessening interests in usually pleasing pursuits, and increasing difficulty in sleeping and its attendant irritability. Light therapy and pharmaceutical treatments have proven woefully ineffective. Hence, I tend to hibernate, withdrawing from many engagements, save those that require (read: won’t happen without me) my presence and participation; thuswise, striving not to inflict my SAD on others! O’er the years, blessedly, I’ve come to a safe, verily, sacred space of accepting, aye, appreciating this seasonal downturn of my being and, in this, finding peace.

9 thoughts on “My SAD ode

  1. Thank you for this Paul. So raw and honest and so you!! I too have thought so much about my own mortality since Tim’s death…. I just keep crossing stuff off my list that I want to do to finish the work that God has given me to do. As for you, I hope there’s a book of poems in your future and maybe even another book of sermons or other religious writings….. you can’t leave this world without publishing more of your words for us to remember you by….. reading more of your words would make me LESS SAD when you aren’t here any more.

    Much love

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    1. Always, Loretta, thank you. I think – that is, when I think about writing another book or about publishing – that, for now, I’m letting my blogging suffice. Much love, always, back to you.

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  2. You have such a talent for evoking emotion from these articulate word choices. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Paul, for your honesty about your experiences with SAD. My poet mentor and friend, Sam King, sometimes rails against a world that does not understand the necessity and grace of down time. Our society has pushed the notion of constant productivity, multitasking, never stopping, always faster, bigger, more. Sam says that in that artificial way of being lies the destruction of what it means to be human, to have a soul. She deeply believes, and so do I, that darkness and fallow time are just as necessary for human functioning as sunshine and activity. It’s gotten to the point where, even here in Minnesota, where winters have generally been long and hard and winter days woefully short for a girl from Spartanburg, I look forward to them. When darkness reigns and it is hard to move around, not only is there rest and an opportunity for reflection, but seeds germinate secretly, the new, the rejuvenated prepare to emerge when the time comes and light returns. My mythologically-attuned mind has sometimes thought to turn from the light-surrounded form of the risen Jesus back to the dark tomb he abandoned. Clearly the darkness, the gloom, even the coolness of that space gave him something that he needed for transformation. What happens in the darkness? What is there that we need? An encounter with our deepest selves perhaps? An encounter with a god who doesn’t blind us and cause us to look away but invites a lingering and focused gaze? An assurance of our own wholeness, our own sufficiency? Peace? Calm? Quiet?

    I will cherish your SAD times with and for you. I trust your body, your mind, and your soul to know what you need to keep on being Paul, to keep on finding new insights, new life, and to keep sharing them as you do so generously and graciously.

    From a very cold and snowy place this day, with a great deal of warmth and love for you,

    Karen

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  4. Ah, my dearest Karen, always I thank you for your depth of understanding and breadth of care. Yea, again, I thank you.

    For quite the while, as I have read and reflected on the Jesus-story, I have gravitated toward images of shadow and darkness. For example, in the Christmas season’s repetition of the biblical prophecy concerning “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”, consigning its fulfillment to the nativity of Jesus, I oft have had to acknowledge that my cleaving to that darkness (though believing I grasp the intent of that prophetic witness) oft is a stronger inner urging than the call and appeal of the light. This said, it was years of time on end before coming to such a place of peace (that trek into my paradox of the light of darkness involved the longest time of berating myself and feeling less than a faithful follower of Jesus). Once I came to this place of peace (depth psychology having been and remaining a goodly interpretive guide), I was (and have been) able to reread the scriptural testimonies of Jesus to hear again his words and counsel of strife and struggle and suffering and to understand his (not only, merely journey through, but) sojourn IN the land of darkness as not a stage, but rather a state of life.

    All said, dearest sister, I am in a better, saner, safer, more sacred place of self-acceptance. I believe my God would want that for me.

    Love and peace,
    Paul

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  5. Oh, I believe that, Paul. I sincerely do. A friend sent me a snippet of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” today in the midst of an email exchange, and now your comments about darkness and shadow have reminded me of Eliot’s question by the Magi as to whether they had “come all this way for a birth or a death?” The realization that one can’t show up for birth unless one is also prepared to accept death is such a game-changer, isn’t it? And it is a realization our civilization is in no wise prepared to accept. But you, my dear friend, are lovingly, bravely, valiantly helping to lead the hard trek to that truth, by your honesty, your transparent witness, your beautiful, crystal-clear ambiguity that has nothing to do with duplicity, but everything to do with commitment and love.

    Thank you for being you, dear Paul. Thank you for continuing to reach out from the darkness and into the darkness and giving off such truthful sparks of light.

    Love,

    Karen

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  6. Ah, my dear sister, you bless me with your continual encouragement…

    And you remind me of Eliot’s eloquent, poignant question placed in the hearts and on the lips of the magi. As I reflect on their journey, indeed, having beheld glory in that manger, their olden ways (doubtless handed down from generation to generation) no longer sufficed to make meaning for them. Such a horrendous death to be alive, yet lost to that crucial act and art of meaning-making. As I reflect, I pray that the magi, just as they returned home, bypassing Jerusalem and Herod, by another way, discerned a new path toward shaping sense out of the oft ambiguous nonsense of life.

    As for my “continuing to reach out from the darkness and into the darkness and giving off such truthful sparks of light” (mercy, I love your imagery!), I find myself in that perhaps enviable position in life – with few, if any new vocational mountains to climb and fewer tests (save that of growing old with grace and dying in faith) to which I need lend my daily hands and heart) – of bearing the need to satisfy the expectations of a smaller cadre of folk. Thus, I can run…ramble…gambol through the fields of my mind and heart, soul and spirit with abandon. In this, there are moments, the words arise and race ahead of me and I am left to discern what they (I) mean. I rejoice in this freedom, which opens up and opens out to a greater liberty – that of not (never!) quite knowing where I’m going or where I will end up and when, and throughout not having to explain or justify or prove a thing.

    Love and, as that olden Portuguese saying has it, “a luta continua”, the struggle continues (for meaning),
    Paul

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    1. The only thing left… “Amen!”

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