No Time like the Present for an Epiphany

I’m sitting here reading about New Years’ resolutions in August.  No time like the present, right?

Seeing as how most New Years’ resolutions don’t make it out of January, maybe it’s not so bad that I’m considering fresh starts now, but the irony does not escape me.  

I’ve always loved the word ‘epiphany’.  My friends and family used to poke fun at my exuberant use of it and my claims that I’d just had one.  But they came fewer and farther between as I got older.  When I fought and focused for one or was unexpectedly blessed with one, I remembered the joy and wonder and how much I benefitted from their presence in my life.  Yet life always seemed to ramp up again and they fell away – or at least my vision did.

Now as I read about all the meanings of the word – including the feast celebrating the arrival of the Magi twelve days after Christmas – I’m reminded again of how worthy a quest this is.  

In her article discussing epiphany, Effie Caldarola has this advice for fresh starts:

How about just resolving to keep our eyes open for the next epiphany God sends?  Do you think those storied Magi were expecting to find a poor baby at the end of their journey?  What an epiphany for them, the meaning of which they probably spent the rest of their lives trying to figure out.  Don’t ‘expect,’ just pay attention.

How simply profound.  And it means I have the rest of my life to keep looking.

Not Mutually Exclusive

There is no need to shame a control-freak, God-fearing Catholic. There is no need to add to the torment she has already inflicted upon herself.

Yet, that is exactly what I found a quote from Marianne Williamson doing last night.

It has been six years since I started medication therapy for my postpartum depression and anxiety. Six years of low dose, slight increases, attempts at doing without – and it still serves me. And yet, a small part of me still questions my need for it.

Why isn’t this glorious life God has given me enough reason to rejoice? Why aren’t the three gorgeous gifts of heaven that are my children a daily cause for celebration? Am I not grateful enough for God’s blessings that I need an antidepressant to merely function, never mind embrace this life?

Catholic guilt is a strong force, but not one I blame for these thoughts. I confessed to my pastor that I feared my mental struggles were tied to a crisis of faith. I worried that turning to secular talk therapy turned me away from God’s gentle care. I fretted that medication was a crutch that kept me from leaning on God’s healing power.

My pastor told me that spirituality is an important piece of one’s healing, but not to the exclusion of other beneficial treatments. My trained counselor was helping me process my feelings without judgment and not keeping me from turning to God for quiet reflection. And if prescription medicine existed in God’s world, created by one of the people He put on this earth, why would I not avail myself of this beneficial tool? Most importantly, my pastor told me that God did not cause this suffering to befall me. It was not a punishment for some wrongdoing or turning away on my part. If I gleaned something good from the experience, perhaps God allowed the growth in me, but He certainly did not beset me with these troubles.

As always, the rational mind, while fully aware of such life-affirming and freeing arguments, still can fall prey to its irrational side. I thought I’d have no problem reading the social media post that started a furious online debate about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Yet, as I did, I felt some of the angst I’d been slowly putting to bed for the last six years come creeping back up.

marianne williamson

This statement plays to all the fears of the postpartum mother.  The guilt of needing medication to enjoy the miracle of life and her role in it.  The fact that she can’t come to terms with ‘normal’ changes in her body chemistry.  That she has somehow failed by not meditating enough; praying enough; eating healthily enough.  And then to judge her own success by the love of others – something over which she has no control.  Or does that speak to the love she fails to feel for her child?

I am only living a modicum of successful motherhood because of the very real diagnosis of postpartum depression and its treatment with medicinal drugs.  And yet, this statement still elicits a shameful, guilty feeling in me.  After SIX successful years of such treatment.  

What of the mother just beginning to wonder if she is struggling postpartum?  What thoughts and feelings assault her when she reads this?  She is already doubting herself and ‘succumbing’ to the crutches of medicine.  She already thinks she’s failed.  And now to tell her it’s all a ploy by ‘Big Pharma’?

‘Big Pharma’ is not issuing me any big paycheck.  I’ve written thirteen different posts about the decision, pros/cons of taking psychotropic drugs, most notably Happy Pills.  When the news initially hit that new recommendations called for all pregnant women and mothers to be screened for depression this was my reaction:

duh

I never dreamed news that was so obvious to me would be seen as a negative by others.

I’m going to imagine that Williamson’s comments were born of the assumption that those standing to make a financial gain would encourage a mindless mass to pop a pill and forget their troubles – and a meaningful life.  I do not encourage anyone to medicate their troubles away without also doing the hard personal work of introspection and spiritual growth.  Meds are not successful in a vacuum.  They must be supported by close medical monitoring, therapies, and lifestyle changes.

Choosing medication is not a mutually exclusive option over meditation, prayer, and love.

I fear that the way Williamson’s stance has been presented, the ensuing social media storm will portray just that.  God-fearing people do not fear medical marvels.  God-fearing people do not judge others for decisions they make concerning their own care.  God-fearing people would never want someone to suffer needlessly while thinking it was a fatal flaw of character.

The Music of the Morning

The distant beep beep beep of a backing-up garbage truck
Residual rivulets of rain on the roof
Ringing in my ears

A Benedictine monk was told to repeat a Psalm over and over in his head
When it was all he could hear, he asked his superior what then.
Repeat it until you become it.

Without the outside distractions of beeping and running water,
the ringing becomes all consuming.
How can I turn down the dissonance and resonate with the truth?

psalmist

thegospelcoalition

Light of Our Lives

We are each responsible for our own life – no other person is or even can be.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Seems like a no-brainer,

but easier understood than lived.

Often we navigate our lives based on the obstacles or openings others put in front of us; in reaction to.

But what if we created a whole new point of origin?

If our bright spark of an idea lit off a streak of light that started with us and branched out into a candelabra of possibilities?

You [YOU] are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

                                                                                                             Matthew 5:14-16

Here’s to all of us who claim our light. Who don’t wait for others to light it. Who open the gates of our cities, our hearts, for commerce, for community. Who bravely hang our lamps for all to see, for all to benefit from their light. Who give glory to God through claiming and utilizing our gifts.

Here’s to all of us who found businesses because we see a need and push our knowledge and creativity to fill it. Here’s to those who reach out of our comfort zone to bend the parameters of our career, broaden it. Here’s to the ones who leave the comfort of a steady paycheck with benefits to become our own bosses. Here’s to any and all of us willing to take a chance on our dreams.

Here’s to all of us claiming responsibility for our lives.

sun on hand gesture

A Magic Number

 

I think I was brainwashed as a child.  Ha ha, weren’t we all?  But I’ve been meditating on the concept of three lately.  For some reason, it’s cycled back through my subconscious – and this song came up.

A man and a woman had a little baby,

yes they did,

they had three in the family –

that’s a magic number.

Those lines cycled around my subconscious on an endless loop growing up.  It was always those lines.

Apparently I didn’t absorb the other math concepts in the song, because instead of 1+1=3, I decided to go for three kids rather than three total family members.

But three always did have a special connotation for me.  As an only child, it was always three of us in my family and what a nice little tight-knit crew we were.  I was assigned the number 3 jersey when I played CYO basketball for several years.  And speaking of spiritual organizations, there is, of course the ultimate – the Holy Trinity.

Revisiting this song in the context of today’s antiseptic if tolerant culture, I was super-surprised that the lyrics alluded to the mystical trinity.  Whoa.

There is a reason comparable concepts cycle through the universe’s subconscious.  There’s that, and the super catchy ditty that gets stuck in one’s head like an ear worm.  But all kidding and brainwashing aside, there is a magic to the way things grab onto us and won’t let go.  My man and I could have had a little baby and stopped, but I wouldn’t see the sparkle in each of their magical little eyes.

A few years ago for Christmas, I chose a card that said peace, joy, and love to accompany a photo of our three girls.  Each of my girls has one of these characteristics at her essence.  There is no measure to that number.

Supernatural Help

 

I’ve been trying to let my heart be light,

let hope buoy it

as it inflates the cavity in my chest

where I think my soul would reside

had it a physical home.

 

The human mind is a fickle thing.

We think,

thinking we control it,

but it controls us,

foiling every good procedure we know we need to follow.

Our minds psych our selves out  –

of our minds.

 

There must be some outer guidance,

some supplication,

if our insides are not to roil about,

acidly eating away from the core, out.

 

A gentle hand

A supernatural help

There but for the grace of God, go I

 

where my heart floats lightly in the center of my soul.

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