“Eventually, I developed my own image of the”befriending” impulse behind my depression. Imagine that from early in my life, a friendly figure, standing a block away, was trying to get my attention by shouting my name, wanting to teach me some hard but healing truths about myself. But I– fearful of what I might hear or arrogantly trying to live wihtout help or simply too busy with my ideas and ego and ethics to bother– ignored the shouts and walked away.
So this figure, still with friendly intent, came closer and shouted more loudly, but I kept walking. Ever closer it came, close enough to tap me on the shoulder, but I walked on. Frustrated by my unresponsiveness, the figure threw stones at my back, then struck me with a stick, still wanting simply to get my attention. But despite the pain, I kept walking away.
Over the years, the befriending intent of this figure never disapppeared but became obscured by the frustration cuased by my refusal to turn around. Since shouts and taps, stones and sticks had failed to do the trick, there was only one thing left: drop the nuclear bomb called depression on me, not with the intent to kill but as a last-ditch effort to get me to turn and ask the simple question, “What do you want?” When I was finally able to make the turn– and start to absorb and act on the self-knowledge that then became available to me– I began to get well.
The figure calling to me all those years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls “#true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image– the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be.
True self is #true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.”
― Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation