I had a mentor who once said, “Life brings with it pain. And pain holds within itself the seed of healing.” I think what he meant was that many of us live lives marked with disappointments. We dwell in them. They somehow come to define us. And we have a multi-billion dollar industry ready to medicate it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are physical elements to depression. It’s just that for thousands of years spiritual masters have been talking about this great human condition. Some have called it, “Inverted Awe.” A few of us need meds to fix it. The rest of us need to listen to the wisdom of the ages and walk the hard road away from the feeling that we have been abandoned by the universe. The destination: Abandoning ourselves to the divine mystery.
St. John of the Cross puts it this way:
Divine light acts upon the soul and prepares it for perfect union with it in the same way a fire acts upon a log of wood in order to transform it into itself; for material fire, acting upon wood, first of all begins to dry it, by driving out its moisture and causing it to shed the water which it contains within itself. Then it begins to make it black, dark and unsightly, and even to give forth a bad odor, and as it dries it little by little, it brings out and drives away all the dark and unsightly accidents which are contrary to the nature of fire.
And, finally, it begins to kindle it externally and give it heat, and at last transforms it into itself and makes it as beautiful as fire…Thus it is dry and it dries; it is hot and heats; it is bright and gives brightness; and is is much less heavy than before….
Can we learn to transform what was meant for evil into our salvation? Can we allow God to do that to us? If so, we are signing up for a life full of dissonance. We should not run away from it. When we let it wisely shape us and our homes, dissonance becomes our aid in becoming truly consonant and peaceful people. And, in the end, the universe asks us all this one question: to you believe in the basic trustworthiness of this life?