Thursday, November 01, 2012

New Mercies and All Saints - 7 Years of Healing

Today is the 7th Anniversary of my experience of healing from overwhelming depression.

I wrote about it for the first time 6 years ago today.

I've written about it every year since (you can find those posts by going to November 1st in my blog archives, every year since 2006).  I think one of my favorite of those reflections is the one I wrote last year.  It's my favorite because it was a moment of recognition - of recognizing the fact that that day marked both an ending and a beginning.  It marked an ending of hopelessness.  An ending of the all encompassing spiritual darkness and oppression that had marked my days for the previous 7 or so years.  And a beginning. A beginning of another journey of healing.  A beginning of a journey to self-awareness.  A beginning of a journey to know Christ's heart more deeply and personally.

It's that ending and beginning that I find myself reflecting on again this morning.

It's hard for me to believe that I've now been without that hopelessness and overwhelming darkness for seven years now.  That I've been without it for as long as I lived with it.  It seems crazy, because the combination of those 14 years marks nearly half of my life.

Last year I wrote about my journey with the word "heal" and the ways it manifested.  As I continue to journey towards a place of wholeness, I find myself thinking about those manifestations again today.  About the blessing that an excellent therapist, medication, and the development of a number of wonderful friendships over the last year have been in that journey of wholeness.  About the ways that will look moving forward - about coming slowly to an end of that therapy journey, and beginning a journey with a spiritual director that my therapist has recommended to me.

I woke this morning with an overwhelming peace.  A recognition of the gift of these seven years since that moment of healing encounter with Jesus.

I find myself incredibly aware of the new mercies that have become part of my life in the last year.  The mercy of feeling stable and (relatively) whole.  The mercy of healthy relationships.  The mercy of people with similar hearts and temperaments.  The mercy of moving towards a profession and calling.  The mercy of sweet honorary nieces and nephews who never fail to bring a smile to my face, and the mercy of their parents willingness to include me in their lives.

This year I find myself reflecting, too, on the reality that this anniversary of healing falls on All Saints Day.  This morning I read a translation of Pope Benedict XVI's reflections on All Saints Day, and was struck by these lines, "And so this feast day helps us to think about the Church in its dual dimension: the Church journeying in time and the Church that celebrates the never-ending feast, the Heavenly Jerusalem. These two dimensions are united by the reality of the "communion of saints": a reality that begins here on earth and that reaches its fulfillment in heaven."

This reflection of the Pope's strikes home for me in a year where I have spent much time considering the "communion of saints". I am acutely aware of the presence of what the author of Hebrews refers to as "the great cloud of witnesses" both on earth and in heaven, cheering me on, moving me forward in this journey towards wholeness and towards a greater reflection of Christ in my life.  I feel their presence deeply, and find myself so encouraged by it as I go through my days. Pope Benedict put it like this in his address, "In each of them [the saints], in a very personal way, Christ was present, thanks to his Spirit which acts through the Word and the Sacraments. In fact, being united to Christ, in the Church, does not negate ones’ personality, but opens it, transforms it with the power of love, and confers on it, already here on earth, an eternal dimension."  I love this idea - that being united to Christ takes who we are already and transforms it into something eternal - that it is used deeply.  These words resonate with the journey of healing that I have traveled for the last seven years and expect to continue to travel for all my days on earth.

New mercies and the communion of saints - these are the things I find myself reflecting on today as I celebrate seven years since that moment in which God's Spirit so interrupted the course of my life.  I'm not sure I've found words that are all that profound to describe the ways these things are resonating within me right now, but they are, and I celebrate this anniversary with great joy, peace and hope, looking forward to celebrating it over and over again in years to come, and reflecting each year on the ways that Jesus has continued to work His healing and presence in my life.