Monday, February 13, 2006
February 13, 2006 - Healing Prayer
I’m realizing today that the low place I’m in right now is a matter of mental attitude as well as the physical side-effects of the chemotherapy. My tiredness has to do not only with physical fatigue (which is considerable), but also with feeling emotionally drained by this whole experience.
This morning I arise around 9:00, after a night punctured by a three-hour spell of insomnia. As I sit on the edge of the bed, it seems like it’s a huge effort just to pull on my socks. I remark to Claire that it’s the prospect of another gray and formless day, much like the last several, that seems especially debilitating.
I’m feeling depressed today, it’s clear. I felt much the same way yesterday, and the day before that. Now if circumstances in my life were otherwise normal, I might feel alarmed about this. I might be thinking about seeing a counselor, or perhaps asking about anti-depressant medications. Yet the fact is, I’m in the middle of cancer treatment. A certain amount of depression is to be expected, isn’t it?
There are different theories. Some say depression among cancer patients is situational, a response to the life-changes cancer brings. Others suspect a chemical component – that some of the chemo drugs themselves have a depressive effect. Either way, it hardly seems appropriate to run out and seek treatment for situational depression, when the situation itself will surely change in a few days.
Most of us aren’t used to thinking of depression as an illness. The voices of past generations echo around in our heads, judgmentally suggesting it’s some kind of moral failing. I know, from my own experience as a counselor, that one of the hardest things to accomplish in working with depressed people is to ease them through this fundamental shift of perspective: helping them to fully grasp the idea that depression is a medical condition and not a personal failure.
This evening I discover something that truly helps. Our church is beginning a series of twice-monthly healing services, on the second and fourth Monday evenings from 7:30-8:00 p.m., and I walk across the street for the first one of these. The service, ably planned by Robin, is simplicity itself: some prayers, some lit candles, some simple music playing softly over the sanctuary sound system. Only a few people are present – with our Sunday services snowed out yesterday, there were no reminder announcements to spur attendance – but the few who have come out are more than enough. We pray for each other, and offer – to those of us who wish to receive it – the ancient biblical gesture of the laying on of hands. I depart feeling the love of the Christian community, and of God.
Healing is a journey. Tonight I know for certain I’m on it.