We have had the kind of weekend that makes me glad I live in New England: cool mornings, highs in the seventies, low humidity, and the long, warm, late-afternoon light that lets you know the days won’t be this way for long. Our little town put on a Performing Arts Festival that gave us good reasons to get together and celebrate one another, the Library had a book and bake sale, and we finished it off tonight with a youth group gathering on the church lawn where we ate hamburgers and got to know each other.
I have felt lighter. And grateful.
When I got home tonight, I went back to a sentence I had underlined in After the Locusts:
Strangely, the more I lament, the easier it is to praise and feel grateful.
The sentence comes in the middle of a letter Denise Ackermann wrote to her children entitled “The Language of Lament,” which mattered to her because she “found a language for dealing with, although not solving, the problem of suffering.”
Let me be quick to say that she was not writing about depression. She wrote to her children who had grown up in South Africa during apartheid. But as she talked about the suffering of her nation, I found words that spoke to me as I try to manage these days.
One can risk making honest statements about despair and grief at the same time one affirms all that is good and trustworthy about the relationship.
It strikes me that both grief and praise are most powerful when they are most specific.
I can better respond to the general malaise that makes me feel like I am swimming in molasses that is about two inches deeper than I am tall by thinking of specific tributaries of grief that have fed the reservoir over the landscape of my life. In the same way, I deepen my gratitude when I notice the specific way the evening light hits our church steeple, or the way Lila, our middle Schnauzer, shows her teeth when she smiles, or how my heart still leaps when I hear Ginger come in the house.
Tonight, I am grateful that for the last two days my heart has felt lighter and my hope more tangible. The weather will change, I know. And I am still depressed. Life is not as simple as either/or. I am depressed and I am grateful.