A new collection of poems by Anglican priest Rev David Grieve, is being launched today at Durham Cathedral for 'Blue Monday'. This gloomy title assigned to the third Monday in January is due to a combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills.
'Hope in Dark Places' is a 50-page collection of poems about depression and Christianity. David Grieve married with three grown-up
children. He retired in 1989 at the age of 37 due to a breakdown. He writes poetry as both therapy and vocation. Now a retired priest, he is also a volunteer chaplain at Durham Cathedral.
"These poems are not about curing depression, but about the companionship of Christ within it, and I have written them over a 30 year period, some during and some after illness or respite. I have arranged them in alphabetical title order and this seems to convey the changeability of my experience of depression. I hope that they will be a resource that readers may dip in and out of whenever it
is helpful," David said.
"I dedicate and offer them to all who, like me, are depressives, whether or not they are currently ill, sometimes ill, or in remission. Christ has blessed me in my many illnesses with his presence and the help of so many loved ones and health professionals, and I hope that this will be also the reader's experience.
The book is being launched by SACRISTY PRESS, a small, independent publisher based in Durham City. It publishes theology, history and historical fiction. Founded in 2011, it is owned and run by Richard Hilton and Thomas Ball.
"Hope in Dark Places explores the depths of depression through the poetry of David Grieve. Readers will be moved to tears but also laugh unexpectedly. You will feel the raw reality of suffering and feel Christ's presence in its midst," said Richard Hilton, from Sacristy Press.
"This new book of poems emerged out of a sell-out event we organised at Durham Book Festival in 2016 about how to survive as a Christian with mental health problems. Although the topic may sound quite gloomy, it has been generating significant interest both locally and nationally. The book has been enthusiastically endorsed by bishops, an author, and a qualified clinical psychiatrist who is now a professor of theology at Durham University."
Depression is both an experience that everyone has had-a passing lowering of mood-and also a common mental disorder (or illness). Simply speaking, depression is considered to be an illness when it lasts a long time or becomes bad enough to interfere with everyday life.
Chris Cook, Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, said: "One in five people suffer from this kind of depression at some point in their lives. One in five people, therefore, know first hand what it's like to be depressed-and the rest of us will all know someone who has been depressed. Yet, depression remains widely misunderstood, not least amongst Christians."
Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow said: "In these brave poems, David, deeply conscious that he is a loved child of God, never flinches from, nor spares us from, the reality of the depression that he lives with and in so doing he leads us all into a deeper awareness both of the experience of depression and how, for him, Christ is found as a companion within it. These are poems to be taken slowly and lived with. They will be a real gift to many of us."
'Hope in Dark Places' is now available in the shop at Durham Cathedral or from the Sacristy Press website: www.sacristy.co.uk where it can also be downloaded as an e-book.