have all experienced periods in our lives when we have not
felt our best— emotionally or spiritually.
These are times when it seems that we’re merely going through
the motions rather than truly living the wondrous life heaven
has handed us.
trudge through activities that once brought us joy and delight,
lumbering along like a tired rhinoceros.
We grudgingly encounter those who give our lives meaning, as
if we are nasty, tight-lipped school marms. (Or worse yet,
we avoid our friends and love ones altogether!) We sludge through
work that previously fueled our imagination and gave our day
purpose, as if we have been consigned to a life of toiling
only by the sweat of our brown, but by the sweat of our soul
as well. Tears rest close to the surface, and we feel and stay
isolated and alone.
God feels distant or absent. When these periods come into our
lives, we are quick to run to the
for a prescription, or to sleep, eat or drink more than we
another word for “the blues.” It is
a word so archaic it doesn’t even appear in many computer
thesauruses. But melancholy aptly names that feeling when it
seems that a gray cloud looms above us. Melancholy is a kind
of short-term episodic malaise—sort of like a “bad
hair day” that extends beyond 24 hours—and usually passes
in a few days. Melancholy is not clinical depression, a condition
that is often long-term or chronic. Clinical depression requires
professional assistance and oftentimes medication. Melancholy
is rather that state of being moody, blue or listless.
Despite the fact that it’s really not too
serious, melancholy is something we would much rather do without.
We try to avoid
periods of melancholy, or eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Let me suggest instead that times of melancholy can be a gift
of interiority. In other words, they can help us go inside ourselves
to find there the undiscovered gems of our own soul. If we seek
to avoid them or rid ourselves of them too quickly, we miss the
deep encounter with the Holy One that waits for us inside the
silence of our soul.
During periods of melancholy, nurture and pamper yourself by
releasing yourself from guilt. Instead take time to sit with
God. In that solitude with the Holy One, let your tears flow
freely and empty the contents of your heart without apology or
restraint. Then when the cloud of melancholy passes, you will
find that you have become more deeply a part of the heart of
heaven, and surprisingly your soul will feel as if it has been
fed by the experience.
To Try: Make a Melancholy Moments Plan
a sheet of paper, note the things that you will do when you
experience a period of melancholy in your life. Include ideas
for nurturing and pampering, as well as time to be still with
God in interior prayer. Include time for inner reflection,
and perhaps, journaling. Take time for walks and sleep and
anything else that you believe will assist you in reaping the
inward benefits of these melancholy periods in your life. Keep
your Melancholy Moments Plan in an easily accessible place
and use it when you wake one morning and feel a gray cloud
an e-prayer on