Friday, January 30, 2015

A healthy life may need a heavy soul occasionally

How does depression make us fully human? Ronald Rolheiser considers this for the Scottish Catholic Observer under the headline "The positive side of melancholy" while quoting Thomas Moore's latest book, A Religion of One's Own.

Rolheiser writes, "First off, it’s important to see melancholy (whatever its form) as something normal and healthy within our lives. Heaviness of soul is not necessarily an indication that there is something wrong inside us. Rather, normally, it’s the soul itself signaling for our attention, asking to be heard, trying to ground us in some deeper way, and trying, as Moore puts it, to age us appropriately. But, for this to happen, we need to resist two opposite temptations, namely, to distract ourselves from the sadness or to indulge in it."

His quotations include Moore's observation: Depression "grows us up and gives us the range of human emotion and character that we need in order to deal with the seriousness of life. In classic Renaissance images, found in old medical texts and collections of remedies, depression is an old person wearing a broad-rimmed hat, in the shadows, holding his head in his hands."