Saturday, March 20, 2010

When We Feel Down (A Lot)

I FEEL BLUE sometimes. And, like most, when I get lost in it, I can really get on a (downward) roll.

Last night, a group of friends and I discussed "combating despair."

St. Gregory Palamas writes,
This is why no one should give way to despair, even though the devil finds various means by which to insinuate it not only into those who live carelessly but also into those who practice the ascetic life. If, then, the time of this life is time for repentance, the very fact that a sinner still lives is a pledge that God will accept whoever desires to return to Him. Free will is always part and parcel of this present life. And it lies within the power of free will to choose or to reject the road of life or the road of death ... for it can pursue whichever it wishes. Where, then, are the grounds for despair, since all of us can at all times lay hold of eternal life whenever we want to?*
He shows that the key to beating the blues is a total paradigm shift, that is a complete, radical correction in the way I look at life itself. Once I properly understand the very purpose of my life, that it is for repentance (i.e., turning my mind and heart to God), the very fact that I am alive and still able to draw nearer and nearer to God is reason enough to crush despair.

There will always be things that will bring us down, but a reason we may stay down is that our whole understanding of what life is about is screwed up.

The very fact that I am alive and have within me the "power of free will" is cause enough to for me to rejoice.
*"To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia, 17." Philokalia, vol. iv, p. 299

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