Sometimes the insights that enhance life arrive at the moments of worst sadness.
All of life’s troubles got to me the other day, and I started wishing I
was a kid again.
But when I stood on my box to look in the mirror, there I was, an old
fellow with black circles around the eyes and lifetime wrinkles down the
I guess we’re all depressed, at least part of the time—although I caught
the butcher at the store whistling the other day, and two of my
grandkids are full of joy that they are riding bicycles for the first time.
County Commissioner Bob Hein even said this week that a Hillsboro
merchant told him his sales are up 15 percent for the past four months.
Baah, humbug, what does he know? Don’t they know this is the time for an economic depression as called for by the great minds of national
How can he be having a good time when those poor national banks have suffered so? How dare he find happiness when General Motors is taking bankruptcy.
Funny word, depression. It’s interesting how we change it to fit both
the economic depression and the emotional depression and the plain old, doggoned depressing.
In the nine years I have covered the Marion County Board of
Commissioners for the Free Press, every time our chief mental health
group comes to ask for money, they always say depression is Marion
County’s biggest problem. Apparently thousands of county residents
struggle with depression, and some of them end up needing help.
Depression seems to be highly entangled with fear. Remember when
Franklin Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself? War and
economics can be depressing stuff.
Death and taxes are the inevitable things we cite that are closely
related to war and economics. Some of our county residents can have
legitimate reasons for some depression as they suffer the fears of
livelihood loss, estrangement, ill health and death of themselves or
But depression can lead to some of the best stuff in us, too. It can
call us to new levels of thought and sanity when considering it
emotionally, or it can call us “to pull ourselves up by our own boot
My father died in December 2007, followed, as so often happens with the elderly who love each other, by his wife, my stepmother, little more
than a year later. The deaths of folks like these can bring on depression.
Instead, for me, their deaths have brought on contemplation. The
realization hit me at the funeral and dinner for my stepmother that the
only reason I knew many of the people there was because of her. She was our connection.
Without her, I most probably wouldn’t see many of them again unless I
chose to keep up on our relationships.
I do believe in a creator God who stands between us and death as
outlined for us by Jesus, and I don’t believe our relationships are
That can be a comfort to stave off depression, a balm for the weak who
can’t stand on their own as an agnostic friend would have it. But more
importantly it’s a great mental exercise and insight for our own
This would be true whether we are thinking about the trials economic
depression will bring us, or the trials of emotion, keeping our sanity,
worries about the environment, whatever is battering us now.
I am thankful for the depression that leads me to the joy of
Many of you know I write books, and have recently published poetry for
the first time. I am going to share a poem I wrote with you here. I know
from Internet count and correspondence, it’s the most read poem I have
written. It concerns depression and fear, and I hope it helps you.
My friend and fellow author, Mike Klaassen, tells me that, next to him,
I am the most shameless promoter of my own work that he knows.
That’s a great compliment. But I assure you, I am sharing this because
it came from my depths, and turned sadness to happiness.
The poem is called “When Dark Chaos Overcomes Me.”
* * *
When dark chaos overcomes me,
tearing deeply to open my breast,
then He caresses my weak soul,
and peace overflows me,
like a river in the flood
washing away the debris,
the overwhelming frustrations
of black, entangling clutter.
And when the flood subsides,
the channel cleared revealed,
great springs of purest water
well up from the depths
of the whirling spirit,
and there is joy overwhelming,
like lightning over the tumult
that bids the beast decease.
Creation released abundantly,
the happiness is rushing
in bountiful streams within,
of safety and security,
the deep water’s great
and caring Friend.
Copyright 2009, The Hillsboro Free Press