A number of years ago my husband and I spent some time in Switzerland. It was spring and we were looking forward to doing some hiking. Instead we were greeted with a very unusual snow storm late in the season. Even the locals were caught off guard.
We visited an historical church and the surrounding cemetery. Not coming from an area of the country where we have snow, I saw a manifestation of hope in this photo of a single tulip emergency from the darkness of the soil and the coldness of the snow to reach toward the light. Sometimes in the midst of our personal darkness we have to look more closely to find signs of new life.
Many of the highlighted resources in this e-Spotlight share how people find signs of hope and new life after experiencing a traumatic event in their lives and how our faith communities can support and care for them.
We think we’re immune; tragedy happens to “someone else.” It’s hard to think about, but our lives aren’t charmed. We’ll all have to face pain and heartbreak at some point in our lives. How do you deal with it?
Using his experience as a National Guard chaplain ministering to those involved in the United Flight 232 Sioux City, Iowa, disaster; Gregory S. Clapper offers hope for living with tragedy in his book, When the World Breaks Your Heart: Spiritual Ways of Living with Tragedy. His empathetic and confident statement of faith helps us see beyond the event and recognize God’s presence in the midst of heartache. The chapters in his book include The Mystery of Tragedy, Tears, Humility, Gentleness, Hope and The Presence of God.
Clapper’s book is available from Upper Room Books ($12) at http://books.upperroom.org/book/when-the-world-breaks-your-heart-spiritual-ways-of-living-with-tragedy/
Turn on the news, and you’ll see an endless parade of tragedy and despair happening each day: war, severe weather, terrorism, accidents. The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and the shootings in Sandy Hook will impact people’s lives for years to come. When the news media moves on, it is often the faith communities, clergy of all faiths and chaplains that help people begin to heal. All first responders and others involved in traumatic events must also deal with their own feels. An article on how caregivers can find balance in the difficult situations they face written by Kathy L. Gilbert and Vicki Brown can be found at:
Rev. Barbara Myers, a community minister at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont,produces a monthly public access television show ‘Mental Health Matters – Alameda County”, a program that explores mental health issues. In the latest episode of Stories of Recovery, get to know Yaffa Alter, the Empowerment Coordinator at a peer support organization and a native of the Caribbean country Trinidad and Tobago. She shares how she used poetry and writing to recover from trauma as a child, multiple hospitalizations and self-abuse. She describes the moment that she realized that her dreams and aspirations were in fact possible and discover. Discover how she plans to use her own experiences to help her homeland in the future. You can watch this show at http://www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth/mentalVYaffa.html. Previous episodes of Mental Health Matters are available at http://www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth/mentalVideos.html.
Our country is engaged in discussions about access to certain kinds of guns and the need to improve the early detection and treatment for persons living with a mental illness. We know the importance of providing emotional support to persons affected by traumatic events. Our faith communities can be a place of support, healing and hope. The video, Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma, shares the story of a couple who lost their home in a wildfire and one way that their church provided a sign of new life in the midst of personal tragedy.
Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma
The results of a new study indicate that the suicide rates among veterans in the United States are increasing. An estimated 22 military veterans take their lives every day in America, an estimate that is almost 20 percent higher than the 2007 suggested by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The video clip, PTSD: Healing and Hope, addresses the issue of PTSD among military non-combatants.
Mental Health Ministries has a brochure to address the psychological effects of trauma,
Transforming Psychological Trauma: How Faith Communities Can Promote Healing. This brochure helps congregations recognize symptoms and provide support to person dealing with psychological trauma from interpersonal events and other traumatic events like natural disasters, traumatic events like Sandy Hook and the other senseless shootings as well as the effects of war.
The Winter issue of Church Health Reader includes a number of articles and resources on mental health. You can view these articles at their website, http://www.chreader.org/contentPage.aspx?resource_id=276
The site also lists some articles available on the web. The articles and links are:
Finding Meaning in a Life with Bipolar Disease by Marja Bergen from CanadianChristianity.com
Church Response to the Mentally Ill by Peter Andres from CanadianChristianity.com
Churches Urged to Counter Stigma of Mental Illness by Laurie A. Lattimore from Baptist Press
Resources for those struggling with mental illness by Anna Weaver from U.S. Catholic
The International Bipolar Foundations published a book, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder. The book includes a chapter that I wrote on spirituality and mental illness.
The book is currently available in 3 ways:
To receive a FREE PDF or hardcopy of this book, please e-mail Ashley at email@example.com
The theme for this year’s NAMI national convention is “Together We Can Make a Difference.” The convention will be held in San Antonio at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, June 27-30. Registration is available at http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=convention
Mental Health Mission Moments is an ecumenical resource to help clergy and lay persons or with small groups to address mental health issues in the context of the Sunday morning worship service. These nine 2-3 minute DVD segments can also be used with small groups or classes to generate discussion. Each segment presents an issue related to the experiences of mental health, puts a face to the issue, and ends with a message of hope. The accompanying Resource Guide includes sermon starters, liturgical material, additional scriptural references and other resources to help educate congregations about mental illness.
You are invited to visit Mental Health Ministries on Facebook. I hope you will “Like” our new site.
Mental Health Ministries in now on Facebook.
Picture a man stumbling along in a heavy fog, completely disoriented. Then, off in the distance, he sees the light of one small lamp. Its glow is sufficient neither to burn off the fog not to illuminate the obstacles that might be on the ground between the man and that lamp. Still, it is a steadily burning lamp. Something with the man prompts him to believe that if he heads toward it, he will be going in the right direction. That “something” we can call “faith.”
While heading toward the lamp, he finds another lost man whose eyesight is so poor he can’t see the lamp. The first man takes the second by the hand and helps him toward the lamp also. The act of reaching out to another we call “love.”
And the lamp that draws him? It’s called “hope.”
—The Wired Word (August 7, 2011)
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119