My mood is definitely affected by the weather. One gray day after another can be hard. Of course there are some good things about gray days. They may be warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer; and they provide one of the conditions for things to grow. A gray day also invites rest and reflection.
But when I am really looking forward to a break in the heat or the cold and enjoying more time outdoors, the gray is especially challenging. How do we deal with the gloom, low spirits, and lack of energy that can accompany a succession of gray days or a period of spiritual dryness? Of course every situation is different and every personality distinct. But here are some possibilities.
Remember that this period will not last forever. The weather will change and so will you. Don’t fight the gloom. Accept it for what it is and find its gifts for you. Spend time resting, reading, praying in silence. Perhaps it is a time to dig deep within yourself to find what is going on inside. Maybe there is a lament that deserves to be heard. Or questions, frustrations, doubts, or dreams that need the light of day. If nothing else, it is a time to cultivate patience, faithful waiting, and persistence.
Stability of heart is the Benedictine vow that Joan Chittister highlights for times like these. It is holding fast to one’s commitment made in clearer times—to the life of the soul, faithfulness to the community of which one is a part, and trust and perseverance in seeking God. “Stability of heart tells us that the prayer, and the work, and the service, and the study, and the reading and the believing are worth it, even when all of it has never felt more useless, more pointless, more empty of the God we had hoped to find there.” (Joan Chittister, The Monastery of the Heart, chapter 20.)
What gifts have you found in gray days or periods of spiritual dryness?
What are the core values to which you want to remain committed?
Maintain your usual prayer practices, even if you wonder about their value.
For further reflection:
“[T]he way we deal with whatever happens to us on the outside will depend entirely on what we have become on the inside. Wherever we have fixed our hearts, whatever it is to which we have given them, will determine the way we experience all that is happening to us now.” (Joan Chittister, The Monastery of the Heart, chapter 20.)
“Sing and rejoice, ye children of the Day and of the Light, for the Lord God is at work in this thick night of Darkness that may be felt . . .” (George Fox, 1663.)