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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Holy Melancholy

Last week I experienced a new space of worship within myself. As I was journeling and praying about the experience, I noticed the word "holy" at the end of the word "melancholy" and I decided to name this space within me "holy melancholy."

When I began to write this blog I thought I had better look up the word "melancholy" so that I am not somehow making an ass of myself. (There are a lot of English majors who blog!!) So. I looked it up and, of course, things grew bigger. I definitely sense God's hand in this little adventure!

Melancholy means: 1. an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression (o.k. I have NO COMMENT! What the HECK is "black bile" anyway? I feel like I may be about to drop over dead with The Plague! When was this dictionary published anyway?) 2. a: depression of spirits : depression (o.k. I will own up to this part. I have tended to be a depressed person most of my life) b: a pensive mood. (Now, that feels like it might lead somewhere... so I look up "pensive")

Pensive means: 1. musingly or dreamily thoughtful (yes, I like that!) 2. suggestive of sad thoughtfulness. (YES! I can live with that and that is descriptive of the place I was experiencing.)

Here is what happened. I was home alone one day last week (which was necessary to get me into my contemplitive state!) and I watched the movie Dancing at Lugnasa. It was one of those movies that holds the glory and the grit of our lives and does not tidy things up into neat packages in the end.

I was in the place where I was groaning out to God because it hurts to be human and I was falling in love with the beauty of raw humanity. It is the taste that I found in the slave lullabies that my daughter Zion has fallen in love with. It is the taste of fairytales.

One lullaby, particularly, strikes me here:

Watch and Pray

Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, yes --
Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, my child, watch and pray.

Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, yes --
Mama's marster gwine sell us tomorrow,
Yes, my child, watch and pray.

Yes, my child, watch and pray.

To me, this song captures the tension of the feeling of holy melancholy. The horrible truth of the words is sung in a lullaby. It breaks your heart. Melancholy becomes holy, breaking down hard and ugly places and softening our hearts to receive God's heart and to begin to SEE and CARE. (If you are interested in hearing these slave lullabies, we found them at the Ridgedale Library. The book is called "In the Hollow of Your Hand: Slave Lullabies" by Alice McGill. It has a tape with it and it really is wonderful... it helped me to come more "alive" to the insanity of slavery in this country.)

Last night I was in holy melancholy again. This time, it happened after I was helping to take care of kids in a shelter for homeless mothers and children. The beauty of the children and the ache of their situation tore at my heart. All I could do was look to God and tell him, "I KNOW you are big enough for this. I KNOW You will make ALL this right, SOMEHOW." I showed Him how beautiful each child was... "look at this one, God. Look at that one, God." That is all I could do.

So. After writing this blog and looking at these changes in my heart I am thinking that God has redeemed a section of my being. What was once a place where I went to depression and introspection has become untwisted and I am able to be in it in a holy way. Looking at the reality of now and not tidying up the bits or depressing out in hopelessness. It has become a place of prayer and worship.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger sleeping with bread said...

Oh Jaime . . . this is . . . so NEW

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Tonya said...

I have entered into that space of holy melancholy just in the reading.

"What was once a place where I went to depression and introspection has become untwisted and I am able to be in it in a holy way."

Yes, lately I have had to stare sin and pain in the face and yet, I have been reminded that the Truth is that He really is about redeeming EVERYTHING. ALL THE TIME. He renews, He restores, He redeems and He transforms. Even while we (and the Enemy) are twisting and counterfeiting creation, our Lord enters with His power, grace and love. He makes all things NEW.


At 1:10 PM, Blogger gloria said...

dear jaime, you are so beautifully made. thank you for sharing your heart.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger H. Jane said...

What a gift, Jaime. We are not then to muster up delight in God...

At 8:49 PM, Blogger lalimama said...

Jaime, so sweet I can taste it in my prayers, too. I like how you talk about things not having to be all tidied up. So many times I expect God to fix and redeem things right in front of my eyes, and let me know how He makes it all better. But, that's not what this is about. It's about accepting that He WILL take it, and hold it, and honor it...no matter if I'm there or not. Thanks for posting...I love reading what you have to say.

At 12:52 AM, Blogger see-through faith said...


"holy melancholy."

so good :)


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