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JMTMcCulloch / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

My interest is always piqued when I am reading fiction and a character is depressed. I am instantly sucked in and curious how this character will feel the darkness, how it is described, if I can relate, and if new words will shine a light on my experiences with depression. Currently, I am reading Gail Godwin’s book, Father Melancholy’s Daughter, and I was struck by this:

Is your Black Curtain going to come back again?”

“It’s not a question of the Black Curtain coming back, sweetie. The Black Curtain’s always there. It’s a place where I go.”

“But why do you go there? You know you don’t enjoy it.”

“I certainly don’t,” he said, laughing. “Oh no, I do not enjoy it,… Why do I go there? I’m not sure I know, myself. It’s more as if I wander there, or get led there… and suddenly, before I know it, I’m behind the curtain again and everything is dark. I can remember perfectly well what it was like, back in the world of light and meaning, but, you see, once I’m behind the curtain I can’t find my way back. What’s worse, I sometimes don’t even want to. I don’t have the energy to want. And when I do want to, I haven’t the slightest clue how to proceed. I think to myself, if only I left a trail. You know, the way people make marks on trees to keep from getting lost in the forest? But somehow I never do. Or, by the time I think to do it, I’ve already lost the will to start. Now, the great mystics left trails. They knew how to go back and forth, to and from their state of pain, and each time they returned to something valuable, something that could help the rest of us.

When I least expected it, the mystics presented themselves in all of their glory, depth, and silence. Shining a light on the way to restoration, oneness, unity, abundance, and quietude–the kind that feeds me.

I will sit with this novel. Feel it. Relish the words and the movements on the page. The pain. Because I know. I understand. Here is the beauty: we are not alone when we are sitting in a season of snow, cold, and weariness. We will find our way back, and we will be refined because of it.

Winter is a natural season to burrow inward. It is okay–it is even a necessity at times, but it is also important to go out into it. Find your shoes, take a walk, breathe the winter air, and then find some time for a cup of tea and a good book to be your companion for a little while.