Gratitude 04 – Two Years

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Autumn, Beach, Beauty, Depression, Grateful, Healing

Two years ago today, I sat down in a conference room in Davidson, North Carolina and began a period that has transformed my life. The week I spent in Davidson two years ago was not the change itself, but the spark that ignited and began the change. I came into that week struggling with another bout of deep depression and anxiety similar to what I had dealt with (and had been continuing to deal with) a few years before. It was affecting every area of my life and I was struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually. I remember my doctor talking with em a few months before about some kind of “Flow” activity (his words) – something that I do that I would lose myself in and the anxieties and fears and doubts would fade away. I talked some about golf, reading, etc – but nothing was truly that kind of activity.

There is so much from that week in Davidson – from learning about the enneagram and understanding myself in a totally new way (I’m a 5 by the way), working with a spiritual director for the first time, a fitness coordinator, doing horse therapy (egaala), and so much more that started me down a new path of healing and health. But there are two things that continue to stand out to me. One was an insight about nature. Growing up in Colorado and then living for the next significant chunk of my life in South Dakota, I had grown used to open spaces and being absorbed in nature around me. After moving from SD, we moved into a more suburban/urban setting and I really stopped spending time in nature on a consistent basis. As I talked through some of this with my spiritual director there, she led me to this poem – “Lost” by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known,
The Forest breathes. Listen, it answers,
I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

When Jan read that poem to me, it deeply connected to me and I realized that I needed to be in nature, in creation, in among the trees and the forest. I knew that I had to let it find me just as I would go to it. And that has stayed consistent the last two years – times of just going for an hour walk or spending a whole morning walking and praying and reading.

The other came from where this picture was taken. The experience of starting to see through the lens of my camera in a new way. I took this picture in the morning at Lake Norman one of the days I was there. After this discussion of connecting with nature, I went out to the lake in the morning before we started up to see the sun rise and then went there that evening for the sunset. Both experiences were incredibly powerful but especially the sunset (which I’ll probably post later this week). I chose the sunrise picture because it represents a beginning and not a conclusion. Taking the shots there on the shore that morning and that evening, I felt a profound sense of peace and a deep sense of God’s presence within and around me. The responses to the pictures that I took also began to confirm that there was something there in how I have been gifted to see and share the world. The photography journey that started then continues today as being out in nature (and often with camera in tow) is a space where I can lose myself and be renewed and blessed regardless of what else is taking place in my life.

Was it just these things that made the difference? No, there was a lot else that went into it…if only dealing with depression was as easy as taking some pictures and going on hikes…but they are a key part of the changes that I have made and that I believe God has worked through.

So, am I “healed”? No. Am I in a far better place than two years ago? Absolutely…but I know that I will likely have struggles with depression throughout my life but I see it as a part of who I am rather than a disease to be rid of. I see also the blessing to be able to share from a place of healing (note not “healed” but “healing”) for those struggling in similar ways. Their path will not be the same as mine, but to be able to share that there is hope that can be found even in the darkest times.

This all sprang to mind for me yesterday as I was listening to David Wilcox’s album, Vista. One of the last songs on the album is one that I have heard many times before but something about it really connected with me…

Everywhere:
(Wayne Kirkpatrick and J.D. Martin)

Tonight I call out your name
And thought of you is carried on the wind
It echoes through the canyon like a train
Winding back home to me again
I can almost touch your face
I know you never went away

Everywhere I go
I can feel you
All around me
In the sunrise
In the moonlight
I breathe you in like the air
You’re everywhere

I walk through the forest green
Far from all the chaos and the noise
And the river she sang to me
I could swear it sounded like your voice
There to comfort me
Soothing as a gentle breeze

Everywhere I go
I can feel you
All around me
In the sunrise
In the moonlight
I breathe you in like the air
You’re everywhere

Everywhere I go
I can feel you
All around me
In the sunrise
In the moonlight
I breathe you in like the air
Oh, I breath you in like the air
You’re everywhere

As I listened to that song many times since hearing it anew yesterday, I found a new meaning in it. Meaning in the words that God never left even in the darkest periods that I felt. The meaning of looking for (and often finding) God in everything around me – finding God through the lens of my camera, in the paths of Rowe Woods and Glenwood Gardens, in the simple everyday moments of wonder, joy, and beauty, in the midst of times of darkness and depression, everywhere…everywhere…Grateful.

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