July 12, 1998
Tom Gryn has often asked me what it is that I do for my deacon's sharings. I haven't really ever put them up here, before. Usually because I just forget or didn't have a reason or just don't get around to doing the data transfer correctly. Or I'm just lazy.
This is one that I agonized over, though, in some ways. Mostly because of the whole feeling that something was missing from how Lee had treated the suicides of two folks that were associated with our congregation, and the deacons really did want to do more. So I wrote this and read this in front of the congregation.
The first bit is the invocation, a small prayer that the deacon writes in order to invoke the Holy Spirit, the breath and hope of God into worship. The scripture lesson of the day was Amos 7:7-17. Kate was the guest preacher, and she did a great job of relating the old prophets to modern day Christianity, as the old prophets were folks that tried to keep the national conscience, tried to call attention not only to the problems and wrongs of the day, but also to what could make it right.
Dear God, who loves us completely and knows us totally, please bring light into our darkest fears and raise us up from our deepest lows. Be with us here as we worship, within us, true and straight even when all else might seem lost or crooked and show us how much it is that we truly have. What riches you have granted us, wealth of the spirit in love, beauty, truth and grace. Remain the rock solid foundation we have built our lives upon. Amen.
Depression is a terrifying disease. Not just because it can be fatal but because of the fear, doubt, and questions it can raise. Questions which often aren't asked.
About five years ago my mother became completely disabled by depression. The culture my parents were raised in made it impossible for them to reach out to their communities. They were afraid of censure, misunderstanding, and rejection through fear. Some of the same elements were the ones that made up the fear that made it impossible for my mother to function. They refused to have me fly down, afraid of questions that friends would ask. They put off all their friends with evasions and for a few days my sister and father had to take 12 hour watches of my mother, by themselves, because they could not trust anyone but family.
They did, however, finally realize that they could not handle it entirely themselves, and we did find professional help, and my mother was treated. She is now happy, stable, and entirely capable again. The effective treatment helped with an episode that was prompted as much by circumstance, as by her past and her genetic makeup.
This may seem an invasion of privacy, a turning out of a secret that they do not wish to share. But, for me, it's a necessity. As my mother's genetic makeup is one that I share.
We have found since, that I have some of the same tendencies towards deep depressions. But being who I am, I turn to my communities for help and additional support for John. Quite a lot of this is due to my association with the very non-traditional and very vocal communities which make up the Net.
My various communities have experienced nine suicide attempts. Two... I can't call of successes... nor truly failures... because in one case the fight had been for so long. One girl had written that she was going to attempt it that night and worried folks called the police on her. Two weeks later she wrote everyone a heartfelt thanks. One very obnoxious man, without any warning one day wrote a note to an entire community about how he knew how much they all hated him and how much he hated everyone back before blowing his brain out with a .38.
It devastated everyone.
Every suicide episode did, fatal or not, quiet or not. Simply by trying, they stirred questions out of everyone who knew them and out of the communities that were connected to them. Everyone had questions, what could I have done? How could we have seen this coming? What can we do to ease the problem for another that might come to us asking for help? How can we make it easier to talk? How can we get professional help? Should we?
We, as a church, are working through the grief of loss. The other questions, the harder questions are often ignored through cultural agreement or habit or respect for privacy or embarrassment. Not just questions of what could have been done, but also what will we do in the future? These, in my experience, are the questions that need to be answered as a community. The answers depends entirely on what exactly the community is. The questions are hidden within, by all kinds of things, and some of those need to be aired, answered as best we can. In many ways they not only help the healing for what has passed, but enable a better future for the entire community.
The deacons would like to enable such a discussion for this church, enable those with questions to ask them. If you would like to participate in such a roundtable, please speak to a deacon or to Lee. It won't happen this coming week, but likely the week after, if enough people wish to participate and name an evening that they are available. Please, let's all talk
It was kinda rough to do.
Folks appreciated it, though, and people want to talk and there will be healing. As a community, perhaps for the community.
I was so completely wiped afterwards that when John and I sat down to watch the World Cup I nearly fell asleep. It was a great game, though, especially since I'd wanted France to win. They did it so gorgeously and it was so very, very keen to see a FULLBACK score the last goal, especially since two of the French fullbacks had been denied playing in the game at that point. One due, in part, to playacting by a Croatian player (the other half, which the TV announcers ignored was the fact that the French player had turned away in disgust when the Ref was going to give him a card. The original card had been a yellow, but no ref can allow that kind of disrespect on the field. The red card was entirely the French player's fault for diss'ing the ref on the field. If he'd actually been polite to the ref there's a good chance it would have only been a yellow. But trust the U.S. media coverage to sensationalize it and blame it entirely on the Croatian player's play-acting). The other was red carded for a bad tackle halfway through the second half of the game.
So France ended the game with two fullbacks who had never played together in an international tournament in the backfield before. Luckily or otherwise, likely through the planning of the coaches, the two fullbacks in the end actually had played together on their English Premier League team. Fancy that.
Afterwards we took Fezzik to Marymoore and let him run himself ragged while I toddled after with sore knees and an odd heart. I was just feeling weird all day, just off again. With no real reason. Fezzik had a great time and finally latched onto a dog that just didn't want him on her, so we dragged him away. After he was home for a while and lying for a while, he tried to get up and staggered on back legs so stiff he almost couldn't walk for a while. Poor pup, he's getting old.
Jon Singer wandered by that evening, with two lovely jars and a glaze test that was just gorgeous to the sight and touch. The jars were with some of his tremendous multi-colored glazes, lovely bands of countless colors and shades with layers and oddities because of thickness and flow. Beautiful. The glaze test was entirely successful in proving the glaze, though broken just a bit in form. But even the jagged bits provided an opportunity for sapphire bright nodes of brilliant color. I was most pleased when he gave them to the John Fellow and I. Lovely things that they were.
He also had this lovely green oolong. Yes, Oolongs are mostly between blacks and greens, as in they're partially oxidized teas, and the percentage of oxidation determines if they're more black or more green and this one was definitely more green. We made it as just plain tea in a strainer in hot water and then did the 'old man style' tea making with it in a Yixing pot. We filled it about a third of the way with dry tea leaves, soaked it in boiling water for thirty seconds poured it off an tried it. We did this nine times. And for every single time, the tea tasted different. Sometimes greener, sometimes deeper, sometimes nearly bitter, other times sweet, one was nearly mellowed out and broad, another sharp and high flower notes. An amazing tea.
Regis arrived during the last few cups with a six-pack of hard cider and good hugs and a desire for any kind of food whatsoever. A good thing, all in all, as I had no idea what to make, as I was just so brain-lost over other things. Finally, we settled on potstickers and Jon wandered off after good hugs from both of us. John, as always, popped several of Jon's vertebrae during the hug, loosening up lots of tension.
The three of us ate many pot stickers and then cuddled up on the couch to watch X-Files and then some random TV stuff. I think it was a documentary on human sexual signals and what various cultures do about them and with them. Everything from the neck ring giraffe necked ladies to makeup and plastic surgery. Yeesh.
It was very good to snuggle up with both Regis and John again, something about that pack instinct to just pile up together and gain comfort from simple touch.
It was very good to see people again. But I was tired and worn out and by the time we went to sleep I had a huge headache, in part because of the first alcohol I'd likely drunk in nearly three or four years. So no hot bath, as it would likely have made things worse. Instead, I drank a lot of water, had a few ibuprofen, and John cuddled me to sleep and I was so tired, I think I just went out like a light.