Category Archives: depression

Little Boxes, Filled with … what?

A couple of months ago, my husband R. was diagnosed with Metastatic Carcinoma of Unknown Primary. At first we are numb. Walking around staring at each other, trying not to get teary-eyed, but doing it anyway. Now, a few weeks down the road on this new journey, we’ve moved into another phase. Not acceptance. It’s something else for me. R. has an “attitude of gratitude”, and I’m into some other twilight zone of feeling I have not quite owned up to. I’m dealing with this new circumstance as I deal with most others.

I’m making things, keeping my hands moving. Yes, I’m escaping in a sense. Sometimes escape and denial is necessary to get you through. I’m making tiny houses. What is a house but a place where a soul resides. Little doorways. When I’m stitching, I do not have to think so much about the fact that my husband will gradually disappear from this life. But all these thoughts jump back into my stitches. I pray for him to not have pain. I try not to think about how lonely I will be in the future in this house.
I try not to think a whole lot about what I’m doing and my mind can wander off down the endless avenues of my brain. Every stitch a prayer. Going down one way I think of the beauty of the fall season here in New Orleans, which is the cooler temps. Then my thoughts take off another way and wonder about that hurricane that is forming and heading our way.
But with each stitch, each pull of this deep purple thread tightening that little doorway, I am thinking of what these cancer cells are doing to my husband day by day. And that I can do nothing to stop them, nothing to stitch those cancer cells up in a little box and burn them – and my scissors cannot cut off their threads of multiplication. It’s going to be a long journey. ¬†Over time, about twenty minutes into my little house, my brain settles into the rhythm of my stitching, and I am once again in a meditation zone. I’m not in charge. And every stitch is a prayer.

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We all have those days.

My friend Susan Cushman posted that she has had a visit from her old friend “Acedia”. I had to do a little research on the word Acedia. I was familiar with the word, but not its exact meaning. I though it might be some sort of skin rash. (My attempt at humor) But not so. Acedia … “describes a state of listlessness or torpor [inactivity], of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one’s duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but distinct from depression. Acedia was originally noted as a problem among monks and other ascetics who maintained a solitary life.” (Wikipedia).

Such an interesting state of being. I suppose we all have a visit from that state of being from time to time. And it’s not always a bad thing. in the West, we tend to think that we need to constantly be on the move, we are human doings instead of human beings. But perhaps Acedia is God’s way of slowing us down, of forcing us to meditate on the moment. This has given me some sermon material – this Sunday the Gospel is about the Kyphotic woman, and her healing. She had become a spiritual “pretzel”. I’m thinking that’s what aceticism can do to one – bend us in ways we don’t think we can go, but we do. Susan had lots more to say on this matter. Check out her other blog posts above.