Emily Dickinson wrote: "Hope is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -"

Today is the first Sunday of advent in my faith tradition. Advent is thought of as a time to spend preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus - the four weeks before Christmas. It's a time of new beginning. Each week has a word associated with it and the first week is always hope.

For a few months I've been listening most days to this podcast called Pray As You Go. It's not for everyone (in many season's it wouldn't have been for me) but right now the contemplative, liturgical style is giving me peace and connection. It always has the same format: song, scripture reading, questions for contemplating, scripture reading again, song and benediction.

This morning's podcast for the first Sunday in advent started with a traditional song asking for Jesus coming and calling on Jesus during the hard and dark times in life. The reading was Mark 13:33-37 which is a parable about being awake not asleep when Jesus comes. They had us ponder what kind of a year we have had. What stands out. What does Jesus want me to wake up to? What do I need more of and what do I need less of?

When I thought about what stood out to me this year the words the words came fast: depression, death, injustice, anxiety, survival, coping, irritability. Ambivalence. Heaviness.

All this to say - I disagree with Ms. Dickinson. Hope has feathers but it's singing can also be stopped.

I haven't written much here because depression being new to me took me months to figure out and then several more months where I was trying to dig myself out and recover. Months where I mostly felt myself but had a few low periods again too. And let's face it, it's hard for me to be vulnerable in my day to day life, never mind on the internet.

But it's advent and I believe in hope, even when I can't feel it beating or singing. I'm questing for hope this week as part of my advent pondering. And I'm writing about depression linked with my advent journey because this year I can't separate the two.

'The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under it's roof.' Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams