Say it's this winter. It started off warmer than usual, and left me hopeful that winter would breeze by without much impact. November and most of December were easy, no snow, nothing extraordinary. I thought, I can do this. I can make it through winter. Then it all came tumbling down. Snow and bitter sub-zero temperatures that left one perpetually chilled. Cold and ice took hold of everything and forced me indoors, hibernating with a cup of hot tea. How long can it last? Surely not long, I thought. But it has lasted, relentlessly cold and snowy until I can barely stand the sight of the sun reflecting off the frozen surface of snow that lingers like a bad house guest.
Say it's the cold virus that struck me in late January. How bad could it be, I thought. A week, maybe two? I drank Airborne and consumed Zicam. Then I lost my voice to a bacterial infection from the chest gunk cold residue that made a home in my bronchial tubes and voice box. Ten days of antibiotics and I thought I was well. Two days later it all came back. Now three weeks later, a total of six weeks of this cyclical viral/bacterial crud, and maybe....just maybe, it's released its hold on me. We'll see. I'm on day three without antibiotics, there's still time for it trick me again.
Say it's the digestive crap I've been dealing with since last October. GERD? or not. Gall bladder? or not. I've seen my internist, see my chiropractor regularly and get massages twice a month, take yoga class and meditate. I've been to the ER for a migraine and a round of head and abdominal CT's, had an abdominal ultrasound, had blood work. It looks like something WAS going on back in December....but now everything is looking normal. A endoscopy is scheduled for the end of March. Maybe it's GERD after all, even though Prilosec made me feel worse. My mother had it. I'm not much like her, but maybe this is one thing I have inherited from her....in the meantime, Zantac is working well, except I have to take it twice a day....
Say it's that I have not been able to keep up with my beloved yoga practice during these six weeks of viral crud. I am off my rhythm and out of sync. I feel disoriented and a little scattered. Yoga and meditation ground me and help me feel focused.
Say it's my childhood and my dysfunctional family system. It's my brother who isn't answering my phone calls or text messages. Is he too busy? Is something wrong? Is he mad at me (and if so, what did I do?). Say it's a history of grief and loss and cut-off and lack of family connection which have grown more intense as I try to reconnect, and endlessly hope that maybe I could have a family. I do have family - my husband and children - are wonderful. We have made some strides toward health! Still, I grieve that the family I grew up with, who have known since my birth, are distant, rarely communicate, and are mostly unavailable to me. It leaves me a little untethered and requires me to work harder to feel centered and anchored to the world. Grief is the undercurrent of my reality. It always has been. Not that I am always sad. I'm not.
But melancholy. That is the tone and texture of my life, and more so now. Shades of gray with out the icky sexual abuses of that stupid book and movie, but with remnants of what it means to be a woman in the world today. Always less than. Struggles to be heard, valued, recognized.
Say its a propensity toward grandiosity. I know this is a reaction to really feeling insecure and not worthy. So I begin to think I am better than I am, but underneath I know I am really not good at all. I'm a lousy priest. I don't know how to lead. I can't preach. I sure as hell can't write, I hated that technical report writing class in college. I'm not as good as.....and so I work to just accept myself as I am, as good as I can be. But damn, it's hard work. Daily. And, at 58, this is probably as good as it get. The bell curve is swinging in the other direction, the downward slope. Can I just retire and not be in the public eye and just read and write and take yoga class and be a wife, mother, and maybe, if I am lucky, a grandma? I'll knit and drink tea and have a garden. Can I just drop out of life as I've known it for the last 20 years? Say that would fix everything. Or, not.
Say it's my Saturn return. In astrology Saturn takes 29.5 years to travel around the solar system. 29.5 years to return to where it was when one was born - astrologically significant for one's maturity - the return of Saturn to it's place in the horizon when one was born. At 29.5 I had been married for over a year, and had just had a miscarriage. I was working in a job I hated and life was challenging. But by 31 everything was different. The course was set for the life I have ended up living - married with children and a member of the Episcopal Church. That Saturn return matured me and set me on a course for life. Now, at 58, I face my second Saturn return. Again, a time of maturity, where not as much will change. Or maybe it will. It all depends on how much work I have done and how much work I still need to do to mature and be the woman I am called to be. The degree of suffering and constriction one feels from one's Saturn return is correlated to the degree that one resists its pulls and pushes to grow. My Saturn return will not be fully felt until the middle of 2016. But really, astrology is just a system, an attempt to explain the varieties of life in some system of order. But it's only that, and it's always wrong, because life is filled with unpredictability.
In the meantime, melancholy grips tighter.
Knowing that it will not help to resist the inner unrest that I feel, I can only accept it and listen. Listen to what the Spirit is whispering to me. I hear a call to growth, but I also hear a warning. Not yet. Now it not the time. I still have things to learn and work to do. So waiting is also a component of the melancholy. And wondering. What will come of all of this?
Say it's the work I am doing as a Spiritual Direction intern. But perhaps it's really the need to find a Spiritual Director. I've had two in my lifetime, great ones, perfect for me. But I've gone two years now without one. And I am feeling the loss of that companionship. It's not easy finding someone with whom to do this inner work. I have some ideas of where to go for Spiritual Direction, but haven't yet acted on them. Soon. I feel that will happen soon.
Say it's the work I am doing with Family Systems and Congregational development. That is the most life-giving work I am doing right now. It feeds me and excites me. And, I have no idea what to do with it. Waiting.
Maybe this is the end of winter as the temperatures this week are forecasted to be in the 40's and 50's? Maybe the grip of grief, and sickness, and sorrow, and fatigue, and boredom, and yearning will ease if I can go outside and feel the warm sun on my face. At the very least perhaps it will make this lugubrious time feel less hopeless and endless.
And, honestly, I know that it is not endless. This too will pass. I just need to move through it, and learn the lessons it holds for me.