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Archive for May, 2022

Just days ago the calendar turned to May … the month of warming and blooming and more light and … hope. It is the final, full month of spring.

This month, this week has a focus on mental health in Canada. This means we will see corporations and groups and individuals posting phrases, hashtags and hotline numbers to raise public awareness of mental health issues.

Mental health issues have been around since the Garden of Eden. Like any other (negatively) life-altering, life-threatening human struggles, they came into our human existence, not because God intended them, but because of the human condition originating with a woman, a man and a snake.

When we hear mental health, I think most of us think of what was depicted in black and white movie pictures of crazed people in an asylum. The reality encapsulates a far greater spectrum of disease, disorder and diagnosis.

Though we might think of depression of those melancholy people in our lives who appear to wear a dark cloud, often they are the the loudest, laughing people in a crowd (Robin Williams). Though we might think of those with anxiety as ones who stay in the shadows, the reality is that one can have significant social anxiety, yet be fully out there with people (Oprah Winfrey). Though we might think that one with bipolar disorder is too unstable to be successful in life, there are many who are legends in their fields (Carrie Fisher). These are just a few examples.

I recently became aware of a poem, by Longfellow, called, It is Not Always May. This poem is an upbeat telling of something we all know … that change is part of life, that we can not go back to past times, ages, experiences. It might seem an odd poem to connect with discussion of mental health. Yet …

in the second to last stanza,

is a line that jumped out at me …

it is not always May

and I thought to myself,

myself who, one year ago began a journey to better mental health …

yes! This is the hope that is needed.

The reminder that,

even on the darkest, hardest, most hopeless days …

if we can but look to,

focus on,

the hope of tomorrow …

There are also the words of Jesus, words that apply to all of us as we encounter others. Loving ones with mental health issues is not for the faint of heart, but it is what Jesus instructs, what Jesus modelled :

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
– John 13:34-35

It is Not Always May

The sun is bright, the air is clear, 
        The darting swallows soar and sing, 
    And from the stately elms I hear 
        The blue-bird prophesying Spring.


    So blue yon winding river flows, 
        It seems an outlet from the sky, 
    Where waiting till the west wind blows, 
        The freighted clouds at anchor lie.


    All things are new; the buds, the leaves, 
        That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest, 
    And even the nest beneath the eaves;
        There are no birds in last year's nest!


    All things rejoice in youth and love, 
        The fulness of their first delight! 
    And learn from the soft heavens above 
        The melting tenderness of night.


    Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme, 
        Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; 
    Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime, 
        For O! it is not always May!


    Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, 
        To some good angel leave the rest; 
    For Time will teach thee soon the truth, 
        There are no birds in last year's nest!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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I just don’t know

In my fifty-something years of living, there is not four more hopeless words I have ever uttered.

This phrase speaks of indecision, resignation, confusion … even heartbreak, sorrow and hands in the air forfeit.

Have you said such words?

We all have. We have all walked through dark valleys, filled with fear and no hint at next steps, next decisions … not a hint at a light in the darkness.

We have all had hopeless moments … days … seasons … years.

After Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua, telling him that he would become the new Moses, the new leader of the Israelite people. In his speaking to Joshua, he spoke the following sentence (Joshua 1:9) :

“Be strong.
Be brave.
Be fearless.

You are never alone.”

Four more words … YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

These four words are ones that speak comfort, promise, hope. They are, in essence, the anti-venom to our cry of I just don’t know

As you walk this day, this coming week and month and season … you are not alone.

When you feel attacked by people, or situations or forces beyond your control … you are not alone.

When you think you have hit rock bottom and there is nowhere to turn … you are not alone.

When sorrows, like sea billows are rolling, in you life, your heart … you are not alone.

When it seems there is just no light left in the dark tunnel … you are not alone.

you are never alone.

Everything around me seems uncertain
My weary heart can’t take much more surprise
I wish there was a point on the horizon
Something I could see with my own eyes

I need to tell you that I’m scared
I feel completely unprepared
And nothing’s what it was two weeks ago

But you already know
You already know
Everything I’m scared of
Everything I hope
You hold my tomorrow
And all tomorrow holds
You already know

I can’t seem to find the easy answers
Someday, I hope the suffering makes sense
I just need to know that you are with me
Even if you keep me in suspense

We talk so much these days
Because I have so much to say
You stay and listen to me closely even though

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