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A Hell of Mercy: A Meditation on Depression and the Dark Night of the Soulby Tim Farrington
This small book contains a condensation of wisdom and experience that is best savored slowly. Farrington does an admirable job of comparing and distinguishing the mood or clinical state of depression and the spiritual condition often referred to as the "dark night of the soul" (famously and powerfully described by St. John of the Cross). Farrington mixes his own life experiences, wide reading, and now-clear thinking, and from it distills a beautiful meditation on what that dark night might be and what it most probably is not. I was particularly thankful for his warm sense of humor, which balances the weight of his topic.
Synopses & Reviews
n this unflinching look at depression and the human struggle to find hope in its midst, acclaimed author Tim Farrington writes with heartrending honesty of his lifelong struggle with the condition he calls "a hell of mercy." With both wry humor and poignancy, he unravels the profound connection between depression and the spiritual path, the infamous dark night of the soul made popular by mystic John of the Cross. While depression can be a heartbreaking time of isolation and lethargy, it can also provide powerful spiritual insights and healing times of surrender. When doctors prescribe medication, patients are often left feeling as if part of their very selves has been numbed in order to become what some might call "normal." Farrington wrestles with profound questions, such as: When is depression a part of your identity, and when does it hold you back from realizing your potential?
In the tradition of Darkness Visible and An Unquiet Mind, A Hell of Mercy is both a much needed companion for those walking this difficult terrain as well as a guide for anyone who has watched a loved one grapple with this inner emotional darkness.
"The size of this little book — an expanded essay — belies its power. Acclaimed novelist Farrington (The Monk Downstairs) drills deep into his soul to ponder his own lifelong coexistence with depression. It is a meditation: the author lays bare his stream of thoughts, experience, details, a few pretty good jokes and many insights drawn from the consummate spiritual writer on interior darkness, John of the Cross. Farrington is well-read and draws from other writers and artists as well as the Spanish mystic in showing his way through the dark wood. He writes about his slow crawl to regular, functional life with beauty, cleverness, bone-breaking honesty and a deep, hard-won appreciation for the holy. Medications help; faith helps even more, and that costs a lot more than pharmaceuticals ever will. This book may be too unbearable for some who are depressed. For others, it could be a small voice in the darkness and a lifeline for those unsung sufferers living with someone who is depressed." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this poignant exploration of the dark night of the soul, novelist Farrington writes with heartrending honesty as he explores his lifelong struggle with depression and seeks to unravel the profound connection between depression and the spiritual path.
About the Author
Tim Farrington is the author of Lizzie's War, The Monk Downstairs,—a New York Times Notable Book—and The Monk Upstairs, as well as the critically acclaimed novels The California Book of the Dead and Blues for Hannah.
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