In the traditions of my Celtic ancestors, today was considered the first day of spring: St. Brigid’s Day, or Imbolc. A feast of hearth and home, this was also the day when the Goddess Brigid began bringing the world out of the womb of winter’s dark and into the awakening of the seasons of light, sparking the new growth of tree buds and sprouting plants. Winters in the north Atlantic can be dreary (I happened to have lived in Ireland during the the rainiest it had seen in 60 years! It was dreary indeed) so it seems reasonable that spring would be so anticipated. It is also fitting that it marks my first day back from my winter sabbatical.
For anyone who wasn’t involved at the time, I went on leave back in early December for mental health (read that post here). After a good long rest, I am returning today to my teaching and administrative duties. I feel well and ready.
I know what you’re saying: Really? That’s it? Do you really feel well? Yes. Truly. My own journey through and with depression has I’m sure been both unique in ways and mundane in ways. I can’t speak at all for what anyone else may experience. But what I can say about this last period is that, with the great privilege of my position, and with the help of so many, I got to take the space to experience what I was experiencing. I am deeply humbled and full of gratitude for the opportunity to have done this. That it was possible to ask for what I needed and have many forces rise to make it happen was a healing in itself.
Beyond that, I can’t fully explain, but here’s what I know. There was a period of feeling very lost. And then a period of incredible opening. A new energy flooded through me. Ideas came and I felt such a sure presence of Unconditional Love. And the depression just simply passed. It moved through. It lifted. It circled the perimeter of my experience as if guarding what was happening inside me. It I-don’t-really-know-what. I am coming out this side feeling peaceful and trusting the forces of Good that have brought me through. I am coming out feeling sure about a few things, and opened to a good many still uncertain things. And though I can’t say that I will never experience that again, though I can’t know why I experience depression the way I do, I know my relationship with the experience of depression—and what is possible for me within and through it—has forever changed.
There are many more things I could tell you about this time—wacky things that happen when you follow the trail of breadcrumbs of your soul: an image from a dream that re-occurs in a comment made by a person who gives you a book that tells a story about an animal that you encounter the very next day, that you find out is the symbol for some ancient wisdom and on and on. Subtle messages and mysteries unfolding.
I passed the time in beautiful and normal ways. I prayed the Psalms and fasted with nuns; I took lots of walks in the trees and by the water; I daydreamed—literally laying on the floor and waiting for an impulse or a thought that came or didn’t; I binge-watched the OA on Netflix and read sacred texts (ie. Harry Potter and books about the Goddess); I had lots of talks with a few dear friends and elders; and lots of not talking and just being in the fluctuations of my Being; I had moments of insight and revelation; moments of desperation; moments of “this again?!” I had beautiful and sad nights of prayer for our nation and all of us tasked with living and loving in this time. I got a lot of care, healing treatments and delicious food from my community. I practiced ceremony and ritual and also frivolous things. I spent the New Moon (this past weekend) on Shi-Shi Beach, out at Neah Bay, just barely escaping the rain to arrive home for a hamburger, fries, and a bath. In short—I just was alive, having a lot of human time.
About a week ago, I started to peer between the threads of my cocoon at the world I’ve insulated myself from over this time—the heart of a seed pressing up through slivers in the casing, an urge to move up and out at Brigid’s beckoning. I started listening slowly to the podcasts and news stations I follow, popping on social media for a few minutes here and there—not posting, just peering. I see you, World. And I’m ready for you.
I don’t have a cohesive analysis to deliver on my return. I have lots of little messages: Think less. Feel more. This is the Voice you can’t ignore anymore. We have always been loving you. Whatever you reject is an abandoned part of your heart. Let your grief rest in the Loving Earth. Let your Warrior self be in service to your highest purpose. Don’t be afraid to Let Life In…) so I’m just going to ask that you let me re-enter gently and share of myself gradually. I’m still me of course! Hopefully all the more so. And I’ll be returning gladly as me to my classes and offerings at SKY. But like any wintering or time of metamorphosis—precious, essential times—there is always something fundamentally changed on the other side. What that is exactly is still unfolding, integrating and finding its way into my story.