2will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
4he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,
6or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place,
10no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
12On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
14Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. 16With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
This is the poetry of depression. It is a sacred song for those who have known, as the psalmist does, the anxiety and dread of depression.
Most people talk about salvation as life after death. Salvation, for me, has meant finding a refuge from those death-like moments which stalk this life. Sometimes I have found this refuge in prayer or meditation, other times I discovered it through my daydreams. Dreaming in one’s waking hours hasn’t been canonized as an ‘official’ spiritual practice, but it can be every bit as salvific.
The persistent sadness and loss of interest which pervades a time of depression (or a life of depression) robs us of our dreams. Seriously, who has time to dream when one is consumed with emptiness and helplessness? My daydreams became a safe place to imagine a different life, because I could barely maintain the one I had.
When I was in the throes of depression I dreamt of a life that would save me. In my daydream I bought a piece of land that was rich and fertile. I had the perfect place for a farm: Swedeburg, Nebraska. With a name like Swedeburg, and its fertile, green farmland, I was sold.
On this land I built a white farmhouse, with tons of windows, an aluminum roof, wood floors, and white walls. My aesthetic was the perfect blend of Scandinavian and Shaker design, minimal and deliberate. On this plot of land I grew a huge vegetable garden, and I owned a barn for the large gaggle of animals I rescued. In the mornings I wrote, while a loaf of bread rose on the kitchen counter, its yeasty smell reminding me that something was becoming right under my nose. In the afternoons, a loaf of bread on the counter, I worked in the garden. The evenings were an equal measure of stillness and play. On this farm I was never alone because the land, the animals, and my imagination all kept me company.
This was my salvation: the vision of a life I hoped to create.
Phoebe Cary, a poet and contemporary psalmist of sorts, writes,
Sometimes, I think
The things we see
Are shadows of the things to
That what we plan we
Sometimes all we can do is create the shadows of the things we hope to build one day; a daydream. And this, for the time being, is enough.
The life I’ve created in Wyoming doesn’t look exactly like the one in my daydreams. My garden is two 4 x 4 raised beds, and we live in a townhouse instead of a farmhouse. But there’s still freshly baked bread on the counter and a gaggle of rescued animals. The act of allowing myself to dream a life into being brought me great comfort and solace when I struggled to preserve the one I had. The psalmist says to abide in the shadow of the Almighty for our refuge. The shadow cast by our daydreams is a good place to abide too. For what we plan (or daydream) we build.
What daydream do you return to over and over again?
How do you seek refuge in depression?