“Could he have been stopped?”

Posted: 11 January 2011 in Faith and Life
Tags: , , ,

the Reuters news item asked. Mentally ill, marginalized, increasingly cut off from his community–he scared people the media has told us. A vicious downward spiral of detachment, anger, threats, further exclusion, more anger, more threats, greater marginalization… A story we know (though it may not always end in violence against others).

In my own town we have people who are walking a razor’s edge–hanging onto sanity or slipping into delusions of various durations. Violence sometimes surges. More often there is simply an ongoing conversation with voices only they can hear as the shuffle down the street. Occasionally one of these folks steps in front of a train or hangs himself (usually a “he”). Most times they simply move through a seeming parallel universe–drifting past us. We, not sure what to do.

I asked a local service provider who works with marginalized individuals if there is a role for the faith community in dealing with issues of mental health given that our state and county basically no longer have anything to offer. He paused, but not for long.

Yes… people of faith can take a long view because their faith can sustain them. They can commit to connecting with these people. They can be there with them on a regular basis. Checking in with them. Walking with them rather than away from them. And then, at times when these desperately ill people have a “moment of lucidity”, they will be there to take their hand and help them begin a path of healing.

The point here is that the moments of lucidity are few and far between. The moments of lucidity are not predictable. This is why we need people who will commit to walking for a long time. A long, and mostly fruitless walk…

Waiting for that moment of lucidity. Present when it happens.

Could he have been stopped?

Maybe.  But only via the long walk.

Let’s start walking…

  1. Brian Gumm says:

    Yes. Patience, presence, and a notion of “effectiveness” or “results” that broader culture thinks is ridiculous. Thanks, Robb.

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