building a mystery


One of my memories of teenage trips to Six Flags Over Texas was bridge made of barrels across some fabricated pond. The barrels meant each step had its own tilt: the walk was not straight or easy, but at least you had ropes along the sides to hang on to.

The last couple of weeks have felt like that barrel bridge for both Ginger and me, each day tilting a different direction than the one before, though the side ropes have not been as apparent. Most of the reason for the random pitch has been my life: there’s a lot going on. We are not deathly ill or facing a major life crisis. I have not felt significantly depressed in some time now, thank God. But the day in, day out, who’s in the hospital, what needs to get done, I have three meetings tonight circumstances of our existence, it all adds up.

On top of all that, instead of a New England winter we have been dealing with a bizarre progression of days where one is 40 to 50 degrees warmer (or colder) than the one before. It’s just hard to keep balanced.

In the midst of all the tossing about, I feel these are very pregnant days, if I might change metaphors. We’ve been busy before. We’ve had weeks with more on our plates than we know how to eat; this is not that. As Bill said to Ted (or the other way round), “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” Something is happening. Something is growing. Something is about to be born.

That’s about the best I can do.

I am walking in the dark, but a different kind of dark — not the bottomless pit, but the unfathomable mystery.

My spiritual director, Ken, offered me this e. e. cummings poem this week during our time together:

(no time ago)

no time ago
or else a life
walking in the dark
i met christ

jesus) my heart
flopped over
and lay still
while he passed (as

close as i’m to you
yes closer
made of nothing
except loneliness

One of Ginger’s favorite quotes is from Nietzsche: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” (If he’s right, we’re about to give birth to a whole freaking galaxy!) I do love the sentiment. When life swirls around us, we can see it – or perhaps we can decide to see it – as a destructive force or as creative energy waiting to take form.

Five years ago next week was when my depression first ambushed me in a way I could name. Actually, my English Dept. Director at Winchester named it first. I lost 150 essays and she pulled me into her office and said, “We need to talk about what we are going to do about your depression.”

I am ever grateful for her courageous act of friendship.

Five years later, January feels different: energetic, chaotic, hopeful. Things are changing. The plates are shifting. The Spirit is stirring the waters.

I can’t name it much more than that. For now, I’m content to tumble along in the swirl of the mystery, keeping me eye out, of course, for any red shoes along the way.



  1. “energetic, chaotic, hopeful … walking into the mystery.” Sounds like a good time to crank up Van Morrison. Thanks for sharing, and posting the ee cummings poem.

    Here’s my favorite ee:

    Out of the lie of no
    rises the truth of yes.

    take good care ..

  2. Bless you, my friend. I’m so happy to hear that the depression is being held at bay. I don’t think it’s ever banished into the outer darkness. So many of us I know, either personally or virtually, have been its victims: you, me, rlp, to name 3. Mine lasted 10 years and cost me a business, although God turned that into a blessing in the way only God can do. Sounds like God has blessed you too. Thank you God.

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