Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Advent Year A

I had avoided starting an Advent discipline; I thought maybe doing some writing every day, or some sort of music-related thing, might be useful reflection. Then I realised that it would just be one more thing for me to be perfectionist about, and that maybe "getting through Advent" is discipline enough for those of us with responsibility for leading others in worship.

These last few weeks I've been leaning heavily on friends, getting lots of hugs online and in person, being listened to patiently by people who really are rather too busy but manage to make the time anyway. The message that has been coming through is that the care and support that pulled me out of the pit last time are still there.

The last few days I've also been e-mailing one friend in particular, not with my usual meandering e-mails full of the adventures of the day with added musings, but even longer letters full of rather a lot of analysis, comparing my last serious depressive episode with how I'm feeling now. She's sparing with her advice but has had some useful insights.

I could spend several hours and many paragraphs explaining how I've come to this conclusion, but I think I do need the structure of some sort of Advent discipline right now, and I think it needs to be something gratitude-based. Not to beat myself over the head with my many blessings, and not to ignore or discount the mess the world seems to be in and the huge amount of work ahead to make God's kingdom known, but to hone my perception of God in everyday life.

I don't want to make this too complicated or too rigid so I am going to go with a daily gratitude list and try not to sweat too much if I miss a day.

1) I am grateful for the green tomato chutney I just ate with cheese and crackers. I made this earlier this year out of tomatoes from the garden -- we had a bumper crop and couldn't manage to eat them all fresh.
2) I am grateful for the group I performed with this evening, who have in their way become a big part of my life over the last couple of years.
3) I am grateful for the care and attention immediately directed my way when I started to talk about low mood or depression or whatever this current dark cloud is.
4) I am grateful for all the care and attention that people normally show me, when I'm not in crisis management mode and nothing is "wrong" but things are just ticking over. Even if I can't see it, or don't normally notice it... right now I assert that I believe it is there.
5) I am grateful for the heated underblanket in my bed. I have trouble not seeing this as extravagant and wasteful, to be honest, but in the cooler weather we've had recently and with the lack of insulation in the home we rent, being able to climb into a warmed-up bed and let the muscles in my back relax properly is a huge help.

And it is late, and I am tired, and that underblanket is sounding mighty good about now so I will stop there.


UKViewer said...


Your Advent discipline of Gratitudes seems to me to one that is worthwhile. Thanksgiving for what we are so fortunate to have is something we we should do instinctively, but sometimes we are so wound up in the world, we forget the one who gives so freely both in love and material things.

I must admit, that I can be one of those, when I am starting to moan about not being able to travel due to roads being clogged up, I try to stop and think, that perhaps my journey is not that essential and that I am fortunate to have that choice, many have no choice, either no work to go to, or no choice but to go to work, or lose money. (It seems to me, that with your teaching schedule, you may be in that position).

I am beginning to realise and appreciate that the Psalms are the one element available to praise and thank God as well as to rage when I hear of things being done unjustly, rather than allowing my own feelings to take the lead.

I am really glad that you are able to be so analytical about your position, including the depressive episodes - I know that when I was depressed, I just felt a black, dark hole, and could not pull myself out of it. Luckily I have Jen, whose supportive, no nonsense approach, combined with a sense of humour appear to be an ideal tonic in dark times. So, I thank God in gratitude for her love and companionship over the past 22 years.

I will be praying for you and that your coping continues and for a restoration for you to better health.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, UKViewer.

Yes, the Psalms can be wonderful when we can't find the words ourselves; but I am already praying them at Morning Prayer and Compline most days. If that weren't the case I might do well just to add daily psalmody to my routine.

My work schedule is such that when I am ill or when transport is disrupted I lose money. I am fortunate that I have Sweetie around to catch me when this means I am not earning enough.

Being analytical is partly just who I am and partly a response to my childhood situation; sometimes it stands me in good stead, but sometimes I can get stuck in doing ever more analysis, looking for more information, instead of just making a decision or taking action. All the analysis in the world couldn't have pulled me out of the hole I was in before, but others were there and rescued me. Maybe this time I won't fall in so far.