Navigating Seasional Depression
By Derrick Weston
Day 1 of 6
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.
Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity.All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
As I thought about how to talk about managing the dark and cold months of fall and winter, I was drawn to this passage. More than any other Scripture, this passage focuses me on the changing of seasons and on the very nature of time itself. God has “put a sense of past and future into our minds.” Isn’t that curious? What would it look like to live without that sense? Would we simply be focused on the present moment, oblivious of causes and consequences? That doesn’t sound all bad!
Sometimes, I think this is the way my dog lives—carefree and constantly curious. Still, even she has been conditioned by the past. As a meditator, I suppose that I get brief glimpses of “timelessness” where I am completely focused on the here and now, grounded in my body, and aware of the world around me. Those moments, however, are fleeting; if we are to take this passage seriously, those moments—refreshing as they are—ignore the God-given sense of time that we all possess for some purpose.
This chapter hints that time is a double-edged sword, giving both occasion for laughter and tears, love and hate, birth and death. At one moment I can be marveling at the ways that my children are growing and be caught off guard by my own mortality in the next . This is the “gift” of time that has been placed within us. It tells us where we’ve come from and where we’re going. And this gift allows for us to do the critical work of storytelling and meaning-making.
As humans, meaning-making is our business. We want to know that our struggles have purpose. We want to know that our pain can be redeemed. It’s when life slows down that we begin to ask ourselves why things are the way they are. This questioning is a good thing. It is part of the work we are called to do.
The work of reflection is critical to our spiritual lives. It is rare that we give ourselves the time and space to do such work, yet it is critical if we are to gain understanding of ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. Writer Brigit Anna McNeil wrote the following about the coming of winter months:
“This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back & chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul.
A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love.
A period of reconnecting, relearning & reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance”
My hope for these next few days is that this season can go from being a time of fear, depression, and avoidance to a time of love, rebirth, and peace. I hope that you will make the space necessary to do the deep reflection for this complicated time of year.