Several years ago, we were battening down the hatches for yet another Nor’easter, which intended to drop several inches of snow and/or ice on us. The sun had been absent from our skies for a long time; the days were grey and sullen. It is this sloppy, wet murkiness, the sodden grey-ness of it all that (still) gets to me after a while. You see, I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known by its acronym, SAD. My symptoms were extreme that year, for we had a very long sun-less winter, in which it either rained or snowed an unbelievable amount at once. Thankfully, I have friends in warm places, places where the sun shines a great deal more than it does here in central NY. I did manage to get away for a long weekend, which refreshed me a great deal.
However, in the midst of the darkness, at my lowest low, when I wasn’t communicating with anyone (which, by the way, is a bad thing to do when you’re depressed), in the throes of wading through waist-high snow to get my poor snow-bound horses outside after days of captivity, I fell – and that fall changed everything. As I lay in the snow on my back, physically unharmed but looking skyward with tears streaming down my face, I thought how futile my life seemed, and I had no energy to keep going, to even move from where I had fallen. I could see no reason for my continued existence, no reason…
As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. After laying there in the snow for a while, I suddenly heard a crow yelling from a nearby tree, and that call sharply pierced the blackness of my despair. I realized that the sun had come out. The sky was a perfect blue, with light fluffy clouds making their way across my field of vision. And I realized that the snow was very comfortable, so I reclined there and watched the sky for a bit longer, my tears freezing as they rolled from my cheeks. The crow’s call in my ears seemed to change, and, in a most amazing revelation, it dawned on me that this crow was speaking to me, yelling at me, “Get up! Get up! Why do you lay there?! Don’t give up! Get up! Get up!”
Don’t give up.
Imagine my surprise. Fight on, I heard in my head. And I realized in an instant that I was being spoken to by the Divine through this noisy crow. So I did. I wiped my tears, heaved a great sigh, and climbed up out of the snow, with the crow cheering me on, and then more crows. Urged on by their cacophony, I continued to struggle forward through the snow. And yes, it was a great struggle, but I finally got my horses outside in the sun, where they needed to be.
Of course, the encouragement from the crow was more than it seemed at the time. It was really more about the inner journey I had been experiencing than the outer struggle of the moment. I was yanked abruptly from my depression by this experience, for it occurred to me then that, although I am not the center of the universe by a long shot, I am, in fact, a very necessary part — as we all are necessary to the lives of others. My vision expanded outward from the recent wintry obsession of my inner Self hunkering miserably in darkness — to the sky, the clouds, the crows, the horses, and, ultimately, understanding. I understood at that moment that it isn’t all about me, but rather, that I am a servant, a vassal, a productive arm of the Gods of my People, put here on this earth and in this time to do the work they ask of me. Whether I know it or not, I am important, for many reasons. And there are people and creatures that depend on me; not just my family and my horses or pets, but the crows and other wild animals, trees and plants and water spirits that live here under my physical and spiritual protection. In that moment, I rolled the thought around in my mind again: it isn’t all about me.
When you come outside of yourself in such a way, you realize with a blush and a start how selfish you have actually been, withholding your bright energy from the world, withholding that spark within you that is Deity. You understand how your own self-absorption has produced negativity in a world that needs all the positive energy you can muster for it. You make a conscious choice to continue to crouch selfishly in the shadow, or to become a light in the darkness for the benefit of all. Sometimes we are so far gone that only a kick in the ass from a warrior goddess (through her beloved crows) can bring us back into balance — and sometimes we are blessed enough to actually recognize that kick in the ass when we experience it.
I have refused to succumb to the darkness since this divine intervention. I take vitamin D, I meditate, and I pray on a regular basis. When I feel that black shadow pressing down on me now, I fight it, with every cell in my body and every ounce of my spirit. If I need to, I go south to find the sun — whatever it takes to feed the light of my soul. After all, I did not come to this world to hunker in darkness; I came to this world to shine!