Sunday, February 6, 2011

Setting Aside Dejection

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me.
You have removed my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my heart may sing praise to you, and not be silent.
Yahweh my God, I will give thanks to you forever! -- Psalm 30: 11-12

John Cassian, an ascetic monk from the Fourth century, wrote about the eight obstacles of thought that prevent perfection.  The fifth one is depression/dejection.  He says it is “as the moth injures the garment, and the worm the wood, so dejection the heart of man.”  Depression eats away at our ability to see God and hold onto God.  When faith is lost, according to Mary Margaret Funk in Thoughts Matter, "the dynamism pregnant in each moment and in the totality of the cosmos" is lost.  Spirit crumbles, mood degenerates, thought evaporates and we become immobilized.

Cassian places the blame for dejection on repressed anger, frustrated gain in achieving the plans we have, or for no particular reason at all (physiological dysfunction of the brain.)

Pharmaceutical companies can perhaps help in the case of the third, but the vast amount of depression can have blame for it laid on the first two reasons.  Both of these causes require contemplative help from God, or the Divine Therapist as Father Thomas Keating refers to God.  For the repressed anger we hold we must find the means to open up to the forgiveness available through the grace of Jesus Christ.  For the frustrated plans, likewise, we need to lay the plans at Jesus feet and release the attachment to them.  It is our attachment to the plans or anger, rather than to the Guide, where we are beating our heads into a wall, losing our sanity and happiness.

Jesus stands at the door of our depression and knocks.  Letting Him in to clean out the anger and disappointment, and to take your hand and lead you out of that space is a very good meditation on which to ponder.  Psalm 30:11-12 then becomes real.

Precious God, come and take what ails us that we might turn to dancing, gladness, and celebration.  Amen.

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