(Fair Warning - Long Post)
My 9 year old son, Dylan, brought a small bouquet of flowers in to me today. He put them in water in one of my favorite little pitchers and set them on the table before me. Right here beside my computer, actually. Darling child that he is. They are Camellias. The sturdy, bold flower with the equally sturdy leaves. The color for our coldest days here in the south.
Our family's old home place, 20 miles from where I live, has a yard full of Camellias. I love walking through them this time of year. There are several different varieties, Pink Perfection being my personal favorite. My Aunt Urbanna, who lived there all her life photographed them every year, I think. I know this because I have the evidence. Album upon album of flowers. And I mean LOTS of albums. She was a family historian of sorts, documenting by photograph everything, every person, every animal, every birth, graduation, wedding, death and funeral until she could no longer do it. I have ALL the proof. I think this lifetime hobby and love of capturing moments with her camera gave her life purpose and real joy.
Real joy. Now there is a thing that can be hard to capture. For many people the "winter blues" can really be devastating. I hear ya. I am not a fan of the winter and if we go too many days that are grey and cold - well, I feel like making a run for Florida. Thankfully our winter this year has been sprinkled with some beautiful warm, sunny days - like today! Truly beautiful out, even if a bit chilly.
I share this to say, Isn't God good that he gives us Camellias in winter? All this bold beautiful color. Somehow the grey sky isn't quite so dark when I see the bright pink blossoms, the pale pink petals, or the white with yellow centers of Camellias. It seems to hint that something better is coming soon. It reminds me that all is not darkness and sorrow. That there is still life in the earth. That blooming can still happen in the dead of winter.
I know a thing or two (or ten) about winter blues, but I also know about deep dark depression. It is not fun and should not be taken lightly. I also know about seeking help when I cannot find the light. I know about calling friends and asking for prayer. I know about counselors and doctors and medication. I have recently had a major shift in this area that has come as a great relief to me and I am so thankful. But I know there are many who struggle on. Many struggle alone. But you don't have to.
Camellias in Winter has come to mean to me that there is hope in the darkest times. But you have to look for it. In my darkest days I was somehow shamelessly desperate enough to look for help and I am so glad I did. It is the only reason I could be here today and have my sweet son bring me a handful of Camellias.
I don't understand depression. Sometimes that is part of the confusion. I have a strong faith in Christ, a great and supportive family, amazing friends, a delightful Church; but somehow when depression hits it can be difficult to see that any of that matters. I know. I have been there. One thing that can help is if we as a community will continue to talk about it so that we can lift the veil of shame that often accompanies it.
So, if you or someone you know suffers in this way - please - get help. I am not a doctor - but I can be a listening ear. There are a host of solutions - I have found a few. But you have to look. There is a way to find the Camellias in Winter.
P. S. and please, Let's be sure to check on our friends!