I had one of those conversations today which roam far and wide and bring you a perspective which opens your eyes and tips your thinking into a new world view. It was about waking up.
I’d read Anthony de Mello’s call for us to ‘wake up’, that we are in a walking dream; sleep walking, we could say.
What is that dream? It’s where everything looks important, even vital, to our wellbeing. We’ve been encouraged to always have ‘stuff’, to buy ‘stuff’, achieve ‘stuff’, accumulate ‘stuff’ our society approves of – whether a certain kind of relationship, possessions or career success, or maybe thinking like everyone else.
The alarm goes! The dream evaporates! What do we have left? Sometimes this question hits at a funeral, or when we stop working, or when we make a bad choice trading one important thing for another.
What is truly important? What if I followed a path others thought irrational? What if the food my soul needs is intangible? What if my heart is at peace when I do nothing, (not always being ‘productive’ and ‘efficient’?).
A wise writer suggests when we find diseases of different kinds affecting us – depression, obesity, auto-immune diseases, addictions – we should not only treat the symptoms with medication or treatments, but scrutinise those symptoms for messages they are sending us.
Our young people kill themselves more in this country than in any other country in the world. NZ leads the world in youth suicide.
Depression is one of the largest causes of suicide. What is this youth depression telling us? In depression, all energy has been cut off from a person’s usual activity. Could this be a protest at what that activity ‘has’ to be?
Is a busy, high achieving young athlete on a treadmill trying to please parents, coaches and to impress peers, when actually they would prefer their sport as only a social activity?
Is a young man working hard to be macho and brave when actually he feels like breaking down and sobbing his heart out, but that’s not allowed in his neighbourhood?
Is a young woman getting the message too early in life that she has already reached her potential and should stop being bright and intelligent and innovative?
Are children learning their confusing and shaming experience of sexual abuse is something no one else wants to hear, so keep pretending nothing is wrong?
Our bodies are outraged at such pressure and such contortions of personality, mind and soul. The body is awake to what is going on and does something about it. It cuts off the energy so this false self is no longer empowered.
While medications might chemically lift mood, the underlying dissonance needs addressing too.
The wise writer I mentioned above mourns our contemporary pushing away of all things spiritual and religious. Soul food is needed to nourish the spirit. Soul food bolsters our courage to be who we really are. Gentle rituals and spiritual rhythms strengthen our psychological spine so we can be the unique, wonderful humans we should know ourselves to be. We need to be held in compassion while we weep for that which is lost so we can regenerate and revive.
Being held within a framework which accepts there are seen and unseen realities helps us accept the totality of who we are. A frame which stretches far beyond us, before us, and behind us is an important perspective-making container for the creativity within us.
Being ‘allowed’ to be a spiritual being, being treated as more than only a physical body has far reaching effects. At its best, Christianity provides this. At its worst, it has, at times, denied this to its followers and those seekers who dared to peep round the church door. Let’s do better; let’s be a society youth do not want to leave by their own hand. Let’s all give each other the room to simply ‘be’.