Many people speak of depression at Christmas. They feel a loss of relationship often, but especially when the whole world seems intent on buying the perfect gift, making the perfect meal, having the warmest gathering with friends and family. As a psychologist, I try to help these dear people sort out many feelings, thoughts and behaviors that exacerbate their isolation and contribute to the hopelessness that lies at the heart of depression. There’s something about naming all of that that brings some relief. But in the end, my integrationist heart (at the intersection of psychology and Christian spirituality) tells me that spiritual contact is needed. It’s no good to preach this to someone who is suffering, rather it is important to be present with them in the suffering. To be with, that is genuinely present to, the sufferer is everything, just as God chose to be with humanity, with us as a vulnerable babe. To shed the depressing corrupt consumerist version of Christmas that our culture offers us might seem overwhelming, but as the day of Jesus’ birth draws near this year, I feel it’s necessity. There’s no perfect Christmas that you or I will miss this year. There’s no gift or moment or gathering to find or create. There’s only the embrace of our own dreads which reveal our deep need for love that in the light of the manager is revealed as space for God to come close. God present to each of us — this God who comes as a Baby offering relationship rather than power, openness rather than conduct codes, hope that isn’t bound to our logic. This Light is still overcoming the darkness.
Look for another Hallowood Institute Seminar in Spring 2020!