Thursday, May 13, 2010

Count your blessings ...

A dear friend of mine suffers not so much from depression as from a deep melancholy which affects his whole life. His outlook is pessimistic, his mood usually sad. For the sake of family and friends (and I dare say for his own sake), he tries to overcome or at least to control this dullness of spirit, but it remains an uphill battle.

Once, discussing his malady (for malady, dis-ease it is), he told me an interesting tale. The other night, he said, held captive by a deep darkness which seemed to envelop his very soul, and in a desperate attempt to find some light, he started recalling his blessings and reciting them aloud : I have a roof over my head, I have food on the table, I have the use of all my limbs, I am employed, I have beauty around me, I can read….

And an hour later, still finding yet another blessing to name, he fell blessedly asleep.

Like a coin, my friend’s tale has an obverse side which became clear to me some years ago. It was May in Johannesburg and autumn had already come. But the two young children of a friend who had dropped in for a cup of coffee, insisted on swimming. We were sitting next to the pool in the dappled shade of a white stinkwood tree, and the pool certainly looked inviting. But although the sun was shining, the water was already very cold. A mother would never had allowed the little ones into the water, but the father obligingly helped them to undress and watched them go naked down the steps of the pool, where they splashed and played until they were practically blue with cold. Then he took them out, and rubbed them warm and dry with the towels I had brought from the house.

And as they stood, happily smiling, next to his knee, a sudden small whirlwind wrapped itself around the tree, shaking off its yellow leaves, and causing them to fly about. And just for a moment the naked children stood there amazed and laughing, in a shower of gold.

The two sides of one coin….

Some of us must strive to count every blessing to become aware of God’s love, but others, like children, accept the shower of blessings as their due and laugh at the sheer joy of it.

But laughing child or melancholy adult, both thrive in the blessing of God’s grace.

Cecile Cilliers

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