Saturday, January 14, 2012


It's been ages since I've written anything here.  I guess it's because I've been waiting for that stupid other shoe to drop.   It hasn't.  And it is really annoying me.

JSB left the supported environment in which he was living, and has opted to live in a cheap motel.  Cheap, but clean (relatively) and, from what I can tell, safe.  This went down in June.  Since then, I have been waiting.  With dread.  I really did try to be optimistic and positive.  I swear.

Not only did he not want to live with support, he opted to give up pharmaceutical support as well.  So, Furball and I can tell the voices are back.  JSB has gotten better at hiding them from us.  Because he knows what we will try to do.

So, I've been waiting and dreading and I don't like the way this feels.  Optimism is so much sweeter.  Dread has settled in my chest like a hot, heavy, hunk of lead.  It makes me realize that my reservoir of hopefulness has nearly gone dry.  It's feeling a little parched and barren and thorny.  

Looking for hope in the land of dread is not fun.  But, I know it has to be there somewhere.  Is it out there or is it within?  

So, I am wishing for joy, but I feel more like this.
I can't decide if I should hang out in lamentation land for a while or try to move on to joy.  The story is supposed to end with joy.  Sometimes, I wish we could get on with it and just fast forward and jump ahead to the resurrection. 

I think I need to watch closely the Blessed Mother and take a few cues from her.   Sweet and Blessed Mary, this heart-pierced-by-a-sword thing stinks.  Please come down and give me lessons, some pointers, some hope, some joy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

When Tragedy Strikes

It has happened again.   An individual with severe and untreated mental illness has committed a violent act.  Newscasts blare calling him a Deranged Killer and Mad Man.  Frightening mug shots are plastered on every news outlet imaginable.  Armchair commentators call for the death penalty, blame the family, and ferociously try to derail this family of any humanity.  Pundits wring their hands and wonder how something like this could have happened.  Again.  Not only is the stigma of mental illness being reinforced, it is allowed to take on a ferocious life of its own.
    It stops us cold; those of us who love someone with severe mental illness.  We know full well how it could have happened and that it will happen again.   Until it is easier for our loved ones to access appropriate treatment early. Until it is unheard of to allow someone to spiral downward into a nightmare of psychosis without someone, somewhere along the way, doing everything possible to obtain treatment for this person.  Until community-based treatment options are fully funded and available to all in need.
    We worry that people will consider all individuals with mental illness dangerous.  We know that most are not; they are in fact, vulnerable to being victimized.  We know that these individuals bring richness and depth to our lives and that we have much to learn and benefit from them.  Our hearts go out to all of the victims of violence in these tragic circumstances.  We extend this compassion to the family of the perpetrator.  Except for the blame and shame cast on them, their suffering in this situation is ignored.  We cannot begin to imagine what suffering they experience.  But, we may well offer up a prayer for them and say to ourselves, "There but the grace of God go I."

The Prodigal Son

Here is a meditation I wrote for my church Lenten Devotional.

Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son:  A Story of Homecoming.  It is a magnificent meditation on the story of the Prodigal Son told through the beauty of Rembrandt's painting of the same name.  In the painting, the humbled son has returned and kneels before his father, vulnerable, seeking forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration of relationship.  As you view the painting, your eye is drawn to the hands of the father, as they hold his beloved son in a tender embrace.
    This loving and gentle embrace of his son is like God's embrace of us.  The warmth of the father's hands assure the son that he is loved, forgiven, and fully restored in body, mind, spirit, and right relationship.  Rather than using his hands to reject, to strike, or withhold love, the father uses his embrace to emulate the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.  Through the touch of Christ, we are loved, even though we may not feel we deserve it.  We are healed, even though we may not believe it to be possible.  We are transformed into the men and women God wishes us to be, even though we lack confidence in ourselves to carry out God's work.
    We prayerfully consider Christ's suffering and death during Lent.  So too, we prayerfully consider our own suffering and that of others.  This year, I will consider the father who lovingly lays hands on his humiliated, repentant son.  I pray for the grace to bear the love of Christ in all I encounter, and to use my hands to carry out his work here on earth, in healing and loving embrace.  I too, wish to play a part in Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Better Living Through Icons

Much of the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas break has been spent nursing a Herxheimer Reaction.  This is new lingo to me..... basically, it is a response to antibiotics killing Lyme spirochetes.  The dead bugs give off toxins that make you feel worse than you did as you get better.  Maybe I'll search for some spiritual meaning there later, but right now, I'm just plain annoyed with the entire process and hoping that this too shall pass.

This exile of rest has given me a lot of time to contemplate some of my many ruminations.  We enter a new season this year... JSB finally discharged from the hospital after nearly a year in involuntary commitment and in his new apartment; Pony Girl with a solid semester of college under her belt, ventured to a State to the South with a male friend for the holidays.  The holiday was quiet except for my rattling cough.

Okay!  An opportunity to pay some serious attention to my inner life -- which lately has been as neglected as the mountain of laundry in my closet.  What percolated to the surface of my consciousness during my contemplation was my icons; and, a suggestion that I consider them and look for that golden tapestry thread of meaning interweaving them.  Then, somehow apply this message to what is going on in my own life right now.

So, that's just what I did.  My first icon was this icon of Christ -- "Not Made By Hands,"  an icon of healing.  An icon of the incarnation of Christ.

The healing nature of this icon struck me during the period that I was working on it.  Not only was I in some serious prayer for healing for my son, but I was about to learn that I would soon be in need of physical  healing as well.  Not only that, but I was called to a ministry of healing through prayer and the laying on of hands.  What strikes me right now is the incarnation -- God has taken on human flesh.  I imagine this co-mingling of divine/human "matter" at the microscopic cell level.  So many places I could go with just that image.
My second icon -- Angel With Golden Hair.  Commonly referred to as Gabriel (but, as my teacher tells me, it could be Michael, too).

I am in love with him (actually, angels are androgynous and do not have gender, but whatever).  This Gabriel looks like a man in one of my dreams. Not a romantic dream, but he was very good looking.  It was a nightmare about losing JSB in the ocean during a Perfect Storm.  He just looked at me intently with the expression here and somehow I knew that everything was going to be okay.  He was also pretty illuminated in my dream.  So, I've decided to just call it a visitation. Could be my subconscious, but it was my dream and that's the story to which I will stick. 

There are so many things that pull me into this icon... The first is the golden hair.  In iconography gold symbolizes divine light.  So, this Golden-Haired Archangel is just glowing with Divine light.  The locks of hair are golden curls woven with more conventional brown hair.  Like the incarnation, it's this mingling or mixing of the divine with the more mundane and earthly.  This angel is a messenger of God.  The "ribbon-looking things" are actually receptors or antennae allowing the angel to hear direct instructions from God.  No discernment necessary, no wondering if this is a call, but simply marching orders.  God speaks, Gabriel follows directions.  The angel is an intermediary between heaven and earth - and after scaring the humans a bit - brings news that God wants the listener to hear.

Guess what, Mary?  Hey, Joseph, you know your fiancee?  I realize Gabriel still is bouncing between heaven and earth, following God's directions.  But, do we pay any attention?

This brings me to my latest icon, The Annunciation.  I've just started to trace this icon on the vellum paper in order to later transfer it to the gesso board.
Here we get to see Gabriel in action.  He has come to tell Mary that she is going to be the Christ Bearer.  Gabriel interrupts this ordinary girl from the ordinary task of sewing.  From that moment on, everything will change.  It's hard to see in the picture, but there is a heavenly beam descending toward Mary.  The Holy Spirit is coming upon her and here we have the beginning of the Incarnation.
There is so much to love in this story.  Mary's faith and trust prompted her to say, "Yes."  We know the story, we know what she endured as an earthly mother of a Heaven-sent Son.  

The recurring theme that speaks to me right now is the balance and interplay of that which is divine and that which is earthly.  As someone who approaches spirituality with a mystic heart, I appreciate and cherish those moments when I am aware of the presence of the sacred.  When I am certain that the Holy One is right there descending from heaven and resting with me.

I am grateful to be reminded that in the midst of this brown and ordinary life, there is a golden, heavenly thread reaching from heaven and enmeshing itself within my life.  Unlike Gabriel, I have no angelic receptors to receive marching orders.  Unlike Mary, I'm pretty sure my Angelic Visitation was a dream. What I believe this tells me is that I need to stop, be still, and rest knowing that the divine is all around me if only I seek it.  Seek it.

Maybe that was my Christmas Gift.  Enforced stillness and heavenly arranged solitude.

Friday, December 24, 2010


I haven't written for more than six months.  During the sweltering melt of this past summer, I discovered that I was host to new visitors.  Gosh, guess I had been ignoring these guests; eating me out of house and home and sapping me all my strength and energy.

A mother-in-law, you ask?  No, she would be a delightful visitor.  It's tiny little creatures making themselves too much at home in my system.  Lyme Disease?  Really?  Wow.  And what the heck is Babesia, anyway?  Apparently, I have been hosting spirochetes and protozoa unbeknownst to me for several years.  They have been sucking away for quite some time.. wreaking havoc and throwing my system all akilter.

So now I know.  In addition to being parent of a child with severe mental illness, parent of the sibling of a child with severe mental illness, I am now host to microscopic visitors who seek to dismantle my immune system and send me into all kinds of tithers.  Forgive me if I do not extend a welcome.  Get the hell out.

Here's the shift with which I struggle.  Years and years of parenting a child with a hideous illness.  My husband and I stood by and watched as the schizophrenia flourished and our son diminished. I spent years working with mental health professionals to help me come to terms with that.  Help me help my daughter work through it.  It was always about someone else.  Never, ever, was I the patient.

So, now I am a patient with a chronic illness.  I have so very much to learn.  It was always for my children that I would beg God.  Heal, protect, cover.  Now it's me. I am surprised that I struggle with that concept.  Yet I do.

God, on this eve of the birth of my Savior, I find myself getting ready to beg.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lousy Lousy Lousy

Today, my husband and I went to our little storage unit to pluck some furniture out for Pony Girl, who is getting ready to go to college.  We have had this unit for more than four years.  We used to have a little house up north, and sold it when we realized it was more than we could handle.  So, into storage went the extra furnishings - waiting for JSB and Pony Girl to set up housekeeping.

Long story short, what we have pieced together is that the storage company somehow mixed up our account with another.  They thought we had the storage unit next to ours.  They thought the "alleged owners" of our actual unit had gone into default and so they auctioned off all of our stuff.  So far, the replacement cost is looking to be close to $10k.

The guy behind the counter couldn't reach the owner, so we get to stew until Monday or Tuesday to see if they are willing to compensate us fairly for our belongings.

I hope I won't throw a blood clot in the meantime.  Grrrrrrrrrr!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blogger Award?

A while back, I received an acknowledgment from fellow blogger and teacher and friend Heather.  So, thanks, Heather for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  It's just now that I have a chance to settle in and consider the requirements as a recipient.
Thanks, Heather, for acknowledging my voice.  Blogging is not something natural for me; at times it's just plain awkward.  But, I'm just going to say it and see where it goes.

In accepting this award, I'm supposed to follow some rules.  Um, I like most rules, really I do.  But sometimes, I'm a bit of a rebel.

Here are rules to accepting the nomination:
1.  Thank the person who nominated you
2.  Copy the award and paste it on your blog
3.  Link to the person who nominated you for the award
4.  List 7 interesting things about yourself
5.  Nominate 7 beautiful bloggers (or however many)       
So, here I follow the rules with pleasure!.  Thank you Heather at Keeping A Quiet Heart.  I know there are many of us who pour a bit of ourselves into our blogs to connect, to speak, and to have a voice.  Sometimes it feels like you're typing into a big old cyberblog of  nothing -- it means a lot to know that someone is listening and responding.

So, seven interesting things about myself.  This makes me laugh.  There are more than seven things that are probably interesting, but I'm not going to tell you them!!  But, really, seven things that would interest anyone is a stretch.

Here goes ........
I grew up without a Dad influence ~ mine chose to start another family with someone other than my mom when I was two.  I didn't know what I missed out on until I witnessed my husband parent my kids.

I always felt like I didn't fit.  Things were easy for me, and other kids resented that, but they had no idea of how "outside" I felt.
I have learned more about life than anyone from my son JSB who has schizophrenia.   He gave me a whole new way to see the world.  To him, I am eternally grateful in more ways than I can express.

I've always felt fat - even when I wasn't.

I would love to write the Great American something.
Okay, let's get real dreamy -- I wish there was no stigma for mental illness and that there was a "cure" for schizophrenia.  
One more? 
 That's a secret!
I'm supposed to name seven bloggers as recipients.  I'll get back to you:)

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