“I have been reading Mother Teresa and Brother Roger‘s book called Seeking the Heart of God, and each time I revisit it, I find different passages that seem written for me, describing what I feel in your absence. In the book, Brother Roger says this to me: ‘Four hundred years after Christ, a believer names Augustine lived in North Africa. He had experienced misfortunes, the death of his loved one. One day he was able to say to chrst: “Light of my heart, do not let me darkness speak to me.” In his trials, St. Augustine realized that the presence of the Risen Christ had never left him; it was the light in the midst of his darkness.'”
The book tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan War, his many trials and hardships, first as an unaccompanied minor during the Sudanese civil war and then as a young man trying to make his way in America. It is an unforgetable book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. I am loving it.
Last night, as I read the paragraph above, I literally felt a jolt in my chest. I have been feeling so horribly depressed the last several weeks. I think this is one of the worst bouts of depression I have ever had. I feel frozen in Jell-o some mornings, unable to move a single limb, let alone get out of bed. Somehow, I have managed to get up and get dressed and get something done each day – but not much. There has been a lot of crying, then laughing, then crying again. Over nothing. I have felt as if there is this werid and moving darkness around me. It feels like a threat – like something evil come to swallow me whole.
But when I read that passage last night, that prayer of Saint Augustine sent a bolt right through me. To my ears, it sounded like the cry of a soul in deep despair, a cry I could identify with. Its image of a light inside the heart made sense to me – it was something I could visualize and use to fight the darkness. And the description of the darkness as “my darkness” resonates with me, too. It is my darkness, created wholecloth by me and I am the only one who can overcome it – with some help through prayer, I hope. I immediately committed the prayer to memory and when I turned out the light a few moments later I said it over and over again in my head. Today I am going to pray it on my prayer beads. It is like a beacon against the darkness – a darkness that may be all in my head, but feels all to real and dangerous.