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Wreckage and Depression

March 2, 2014

I have wondered whether or not I should admit this, but here goes.

I get depressed from visiting the prisons.

Years ago, I struggled with intense depression, and people who remember me from Moody Bible Institute would recall that I was suicidal then. This depression is not that kind of depression, thank God, but there is a degree to which visiting the prisons is a frequent encounter with tragedy.

Last Tuesday was a great day for Shakespeare at Pendleton. The men were enthusiastic and willing to take chances. They were on their feet, performing a part of Coriolanus, 2.1. We followed that with a conversation between a group of Huntington University students I had with me and the men. One of the men just took my breath away with his exposition of the character of Coriolanus.

It was all beautiful … but what makes it tough for me is the abiding realization that that beauty, that those insights, that the efforts the men are putting into learning the play–all of this stays within Pendleton. That man who gave the exposition on Coriolanus will never have the opportunity to take what he can do to the outside. And I think about the tragic wreckage of our lives, which Shakespeare has transformed into the beauty of Macbeth, Shylock, Othello, and Coriolanus. Why do lives take the tragic directions? Why are we wrecked?

This depression is not constant–though it is impossible to write about it without feeling it. It is certainly not going to convince me to quit going. In fact, I am not depressed while I am at the prison; I get depressed when I think about the prison and about the circumstances of the men’s lives there. The depression is the price I pay for the privilege to be involved there. I don’t mind the price. The depression is frequent, but not deep. However, I did not expect it to be part of this effort.

For now, I think I am coping well with the depression, even as I admit that I have it. However, I know how to recognize when it does get deep, and if it does, I will probably see a counselor. I’ve seen one twice before in my life, and if I should need to do it, I can see one again.


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One Comment
  1. Paul T. Corrigan permalink

    Thanks for sharing about this aspect of the work you do there.

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