Friday, February 17, 2017

Staying Healthy in an Unhealthy Time

photo by Les McKee / flickr

Those of us having a hard time with politics these days are scratching around trying to find ways to keep our heads up and not run down the street screaming. It isn't easy. But maybe it never has been easy in a time of difficulty.

One thing for sure moaning and groaning won't do it. Stoking the fires of resentment and fury won't really help. Watch news 24/7 surely is not good medicine. Neither is sticking our heads in the sand and acting like everything is coming up roses. It ain't. We know that.

What helps? Carlyle Marney once said: "When I get into trouble I always turn to the Psalms." Not bad advice. Turn to Psalm 56 ands a whole lot of other places. The theme in this Psalm is: "I will trust and not be afraid." The setting was the exile or those terrible days when they stumbled back home to nothing but a crumbling homeland. Trusting in tough times is not easy.

Good books help if you're a reader. Music might lift you up. Going to church on Sunday and looking around at the stained glass windows, whispering prayers in the silence helps me. Seeing here and there people who have had a tough, tough time still standing and walking down the aisle to take the bread and the cup--these not-so-foolish things keep me going. Yesterday I saw a buddy I haven't seen in a while. "Where you been?" He said, "I've had a brain tumor, big as a baseball--and I just got out of the hospital. They say it might take 18 months to get back." He was changing his clothes and beginning to work out. I'm leading a Grief Support Group and around that table grief splatters on that round table and touches us all. Suicide. A child's death. A mother with Alzheimer's. A motorcycle accident. After weeks and weeks they begin to mend--just a little. Healing, like grace, comes slowly. I remember their faces when I turn from the news.

Somebody, in another hard time, asked her friend, "With all this mess going on--what keeps you going?" He replied: "I rejoice in the smallest of victories." Not bad advice. Standing with a group of 500 at a rally to remind ourselves what America is all about. Reading columnists that refuse to cow-tow to the party line. Politicians, rare these days, who stand up and say what's crazy--when it is. Reading Letters to the Editor--and thinking, Well, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Calling a Senator's office. Talking to a friend who agrees with you in nothing--and yet is your friend in everything. Whatever we can do to keep your perspective clear and clean--maybe that's the task of us all.

Sometimes movies help. Sometimes. My wife and I went to see "Lion" the other day. Strange title. I wasn't exactly sure what the film was about. We left almost two hours later wiping away the tears and touched to the core. This little five-year old Indian boy, living in abysmal slums goes with his brother to take a train--the brother tells the little boy to wait until he comes back. The brother never comes. So in desperation the boy sneaks into a train hoping to find his brother. He travels hundreds of miles. Gets off knowing no one. Five years old. He finally winds up in an orphanage. An Australian family adopts him. He is surrounded by love and care. Yet he still remembers his Mama and his brother and home so far away. Twenty years pass. Now grown he begins to try to find the little place he called home. Every day he thinks about his brother and his Mother. After months and months of searching he finally discovers his little village on the Google map. He returns home. Wanders down the little make-shift streets. Finds his old house. And then he sees his Mama and she sees him. It is a great, great moment. His brother had died. But he was home finally. He asks his mother what his name, Saroo meant. The Mother said, "Lion." At the end of the film we see the real boy-now-man with his real Mother. The man who was that little boy directed this film--and the the story is true. No wonder it is up for Academy awards.

Looking back we all know that there have been  terrible ups and downs in our land. From time to time we have all been dislocated. This does not brush away the hard time we are in or the heartbreak of all those dragged from their homes and sent back to the country they fled from. Yet--the old Scripture keeps coming back to me. "I will trust and not be afraid." Our trust is uneven at best. Yet--in a hard time--like those Israelites years ago maybe we need to find ways not to be afraid.

As the Rally ended in Greenville the other day--someone came forward with a guitar. And he began to play, "We Shall Overcome." And blacks and whites and immigrants and people of all ages, domestics and professors began to sing: "Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome some day." Let's keep remembering the song and the Psalm and Saroo who made it against incredible odds. Maybe, things being as they are, we really can trust--and maybe, just maybe we will not be afraid.

photo by evil nick / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

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