The Rhythmic Recreation of a Sabbath Schedule

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.  (Mark 6.30-31) Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being. ― Walter Brueggemann   Some time ago, I read an article about a family that filed a lawsuit against a local hospital claiming that an on-call medical resident had contributed to their loved one's death. The resident was in the midst of 48 hours of grueling work, without sleep, in this level 1 trauma hospital. Sheer exhaustion, [...]

The Rhythmic Recreation of a Sabbath Schedule2020-06-10T17:01:14-04:00

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness

Mental illness can be one of the most self-centered ailments there is. By this I do not mean that people who battle mental illness are necessarily self-centered. No, I mean the illness itself consumes our minds in such a way that we become unable to see beyond the realm of our own emotional pain. This is not our fault. We are not to blame, at least not for the way our minds work. Contrary to what many believe, our aim is not to draw attention to ourselves. This may be the result, but it is not our desire. One of the worst episodes I've had happened on December 1, 2016. I was blindsided from the rear and, in spite of little physical damage, I went into sort of shock. I was taken to nearby hospital. As they tried to transfer me onto a gurney, I became convinced I was paralyzed. [...]

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness2020-06-07T19:06:01-04:00

Mental Illness or Demon Possession?

Let me make this clear. Mental illness is not demon possession. If you are a faith leader and someone asks you to exorcise a friend or family member, don't do it. What can you do instead? A good pastor friend of mine has shared with me a screening process to rule out lesser afflictions before one might consider a chronic diseased soul. Examine the environment. Take a particularly close look at the relationship dynamics of the person presented as the problem. Often families and other intimate groups target one member and poured all their disruptive thoughts and feelings into a scapegoat who responds with peculiar and sometimes even volatile behavior. It can be very difficult to examine the lives of those convinced they are only acting out of love. They may themselves become angry with you, even abusive. Be sure to tread lightly and have back up before you take [...]

Mental Illness or Demon Possession?2020-05-30T05:00:34-04:00

To a muse, myself

Originally published September 10, 2018.... My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a match [...]

To a muse, myself2020-05-11T20:17:37-04:00

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) “While she might not have opted for this illness, neither does she entirely regret it; she prefers, as she writes so movingly, a life of passionate turbulence to one of tedious calm.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.   I am grateful for many things. I’ll name five: Food to eat. A roof above my head. Family members who care for me. Faithful friends who make me laugh. And my mental illness. Yes, I am grateful for my mental illness. I have come to prefer the “passionate turbulence” of bipolar disorder to the “tedious calm” of being “normal”. This is not to say I enjoy all aspects of my illness. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes it robs me of hope and challenges [...]

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence2020-04-19T20:53:18-04:00

My Pandemic Prayer Journal

I have been keeping an pandemic prayer journal. Like everything in my life, it is irregular. Intermittent. It comes in fits and starts. But as I look back over my Facebook posts the past several weeks since COVID-19 hit home, I have a good record of my life in quarantine. I want to share some of this with you: April 3, 2020 When Hope is Hard to Come By I was sitting on my back deck, listening to “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. It is one of the best country songs ever written. Certainly one of the saddest. My wife came out and asked why I was listening to such miserable music. I said something happens when you set suffering to song that gives purpose to pain, adds rhyme and reason to what seem like pointless periods in our lives. These are hard times and it is essential [...]

My Pandemic Prayer Journal2020-04-13T19:48:38-04:00

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain

Grief is a complex thing. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't all go through grief in easily understood stages from denial to acceptance. Instead, there are as many ways to respond to loss as there are people who suffer loss. And, if we are blessed to live long enough, we all lose someone important to us. In a time such as ours, losses are becoming multiplied. On April 7, 2020 John Prine died. I did not know Prine personally but like many who heard his songs, I felt like I did. Not only did I feel like I knew John, but all the people he sang about, who represents the whole of the human race. On the night he died, I stayed up listening to his music and reflecting on his life. I want to share this experience with you.   "I guess I just process death differently than some [...]

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain2020-04-10T00:26:21-04:00

Hosanna in the Highest: Palm Sunday Perspectives

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion,     ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey,     and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went [...]

Hosanna in the Highest: Palm Sunday Perspectives2020-04-04T17:19:48-04:00

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust

In this age of anxiety about the virus crisis, some spread scare tactics that produce panic. Others point to hope in the midst of despair, faith in the face of fear, peace where worry abounds. Les Rust is one of the latter. I've known Les since our grad school days at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. We were in some classes together and were part of a small weekly prayer group. Les has a non-anxious presence well-worn in his short bearded stature. His sweet Appalachian drawl conveyed the thoughtful well-read Southern intelligence often discounted by ignorant Yankees as hillbilly nonsense. A graduate of Berea College, Les has a wood worker's hands and a pastor's heart. I'm blessed to call him a friend, my brother in Christ. Of all the arrows in his quiver, I appreciate his gift for writing the most. I am thrilled he is putting this to good use in [...]

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust2020-03-18T09:00:16-04:00

Bipolar Relationships: Hope for Wounded Healing

I had coffee last week with a friend who is also a Christian living with a mental illness. She was sharing with me her struggle to break free of unhealthy relationships that were leading her to unholy living. She was not caring for herself by receiving God's care or the care of others. We discussed how what has come to be called co-dependent relationships are really another form of idolatry. When we believe another person needs us (and only us) to save them from ruin. I said it is like when a person we care about is in quicksand. The last thing they need is for us to jump into the quicksand and sink with them. They need us to stay on solid ground and get something they can hold onto to get out. A Savior who is not us. Those of us with a mental illness, as well as [...]

Bipolar Relationships: Hope for Wounded Healing2020-03-01T22:06:36-05:00
Go to Top