I awakened at 3:55 this morning. A headache demands my attention, and robs me of what I crave almost as much as God these days—sleep. I wish my head were not like this. I wish I did not fall into depression with every God given autumn, and fail to break through to a sunlight of the soul until the spring, with the kind of certainly upon which the seasons themselves change. I make a thousand wishes about my brain chemistry, upon a Star that I am incapable of seeing.
In these wee hours of the morning, I play on the internet, watch late night television, read, think, and even pray. When these things fail me, I go back to thinking. This dark morning, I am remembering my days, six years ago, as a seminarian.
The only thing worse for a Christian madwoman to do than desperately pursue a graduate degree in psychology while she is completely insane and her husband is a drug addict, is for her to do this at a theological seminary. I left classes after each school night, devastated by the startlingly clear revelations I’d received about my own pathology. Add to this a ruthless, ripping of way of all my erroneous theological positions—which was most of them, and you have an adventure of faith every day.
At some point in a psychology program, you are forced against your will to take a battery of test that will prove to you, in black and white, what you already knew in secret. You are crazy. According to the MMPI, I scored high as a sociopath. My concern that I’d be killing prostitutes in a few years drove me to my instructor. He assured me that for some odd reason, black people score high on this test in that area. So do graduate students-black, white or other. I was again restored to some semblance of peace, being both black, and a graduate student, but most important, Ann Arbor’s two hookers were safe.
Then there was the test whose name I’ve blocked out. Thank God for defense mechanisms, for surely, I’d have taken it again by now to confirm the results. This one was an instrument measuring depression, and predicted that I’d kill myself within 10 years. Way to boost student morale! I still have four years to go, and tonight, I have to wonder if I’m going to make it after all.
I had this friend who I will say was the man my sister Carlean loved. He was a gentle man of God, always smiling. He was a chocolate kiss, as kind as he was attractive. He took ill, suddenly, and then, he was dying. We prayed ferverently for his healing, and visited him in his last days at the hospital. I remember one of the last things he said to us about healing:
“I know God is Able, but even if He doesn’t heal me, He’s still Able.”
How moving is that? He died not longer after, still trusting God.
Though He slay me, I will trust Him. I know my redeemer lives.
Knowing you will die soon has to be hard when you are a young man. It is also hard when the process is slow, and you wonder if it will not be yourself that kills you. I write about embracing God in the dark, but it’s damned difficult to do, even on my best days when I quote wonderful, lilting, poems by Rainer Maria Rilke--who clearly suffered from depression. But Rilke also wrote poems that say he feels like he is slipping away, like sand between his fingers. He writes:
“I want to die. Leave me alone.
I feel like I’m almost there.”
And sadly, I know just how he feels.
Last night, when it was all I could do to not pierce my jugular vein, like Rilke I wrote my own depression love poem to God.
Sometimes I Surrender
in a shroud
deny my senses
to the Darkness
that is You.
I can write that. I can even do that on occasion, but it isn’t easy. Ever.
Four years ago, I stumbled in the darkness and found myself, and I loved her fiercely. And that self was born again. I named her Indigo Blue.
This year, I stumbled in the darkness and I found God, and I was born again. I christened my newborn self ragamuffin diva.
And I love God fiercely.
Even though He slay me.
Even though like Rilke,
I ache, and swell
in a hundred places.
I love Him, anyway.
In the dark morning,