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the Light never scolded me

Everything

the Light never scolded me

Elijah Walker

by Elijah Walker

Note: This is a piece I wrote as I was leaving Portland, my home for two years, to move to Indiana for seminary. It focuses on my experience with depression and what it was like to leave the community that held me.

——

and I weep
not because I don’t want to go,
but because
it’s so hard
to leave
this

this

——

Living with depression this past year was like wandering in a cave. I wandered for so long that I eventually got tired and, rather than using all of my remaining energy to find the way out, I just…sat down. I sat there for so long that it felt like home—but I wasn’t warm, or dry, or happy, or safe. I couldn’t even rest.

I probably would have faded away there, if not for the people who wandered in and sat with me. They wrapped warm blankets around my shoulders, held a cup of soup to my lips, read poems to me, cried for me, reminded me that even in the darkness, I was not alone. I am not alone. I will not be alone.

Sometimes people needed to leave, so they left their parting gifts and whispered their goodbyes. I felt so little that I couldn’t even cry when they left. I wasn’t even bitter or sad. I wasn’t angry. Not at them.

There was a voice that called my name a lot, but it mostly sounded like an echo, bouncing off of the walls of the cave and shaking me to my core. Eventually, I ignored them all. My back ached, and my shoulders curled over in an attempt to protect myself from what I couldn’t see. “One of these days,” I whispered to myself, barely moving my mouth. “One of these days, I might just go deeper into this damn cave.”

And then I heard it, plain as day. The voice called my name again. But this time, it sounded like it was coming from just around the bend—or maybe even within me. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, shook the dust off of my bones, stretched every muscle I had tried so hard to forget. I rose to my feet, and I stumbled around the corner and into

the Light

The Light did not scold me. It did not ask questions. It did not try to make me forget the cave and the darkness and the stench. It just wrapped me up in its warmth, sang love songs to me. The Light wept and we danced, danced, danced.

———

Sometimes I think that open worship is like a search party. We sit in the relative quiet and search deep within the thing that we call ourselves. Sometimes we don’t have to search for too long to find what we’re looking for.

Other times, we search for a little while and find something that seems good and true and think that this surely has to be as good as it’s going to get.

And we give up at that point, impatient and content with a false sense of satisfaction.

And then sometimes, when our life gets in the way, or when there’s too much noise, or when pain tries to stand in the way of our awareness of the One—sometimes we search for so long that we forget how good it will be when we find what we’re seeking.

————

I remember how good it is, now. I remember how good it feels to fall into arms that I know will catch me, over and over and over again. I remember how good it is to be liberated.

I remember how good it is to open my mouth and not even care what words fall out. I trust that these words are the truth as it’s revealed to me in this moment. I trust my body to say what needs to be said. Even when I pray in an unknown language, the words never lose value. The words never lose me.

—————

I cleaned out my desk tonight, as the moon rose into the sky and the light faded. And I sang into the meetinghouse, a song of goodbye and blessing. It appeared to be an empty room,  but I knew the space was full of the love and tenderness and laughter that we share with one another in and out of meeting for worship.

I sang and I wept and I carried a box of my belongings back home. As I went, I remembered that the only thing I needed to carry with me was love. And I decided that I might just let it carry me.

 

Posted with permission. Original found here.