Suicide: No More Hiding

Do you know someone who feels hopeless? lost? profoundly sad?

Can you find compassion toward them or do you stay away when they begin that journey down the rabbit hole?

Today we lost another celebrity life to suicide.  Anthony Bourdain’s life, Kate Spade’s life, along with countless others who’s lives we have known personally or are one of the many souls living among us, have lived many long and painful days and nights with a terrible secret.  Because their journey on earth took them to international recognition perhaps they and many who came before (Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemmingway), can help to open up a new and stronger concern and awareness for depression, addition, and mental illness. There is not enough dialogue, not enough honesty and not enough systems in place to catch these souls.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is Call 1-800-273-8255.  Keep it somewhere easy to share. Ask questions!

What is this secret these people walking among us have? Why do they hold it so close to their chest that it goes unrecognized and undetected until it’s too late? It begins with a seed planted deep in their heart. It grows over time and then one day when they can’t take the suffocating and choking and darkness this overgrown, over cultivated lie has done to them, they search for relief.  This can be poison to “kill it” like drugs and alcohol.  It can be a pursuit of some goal that turns into an obsession which to others looks like fame and fortune and glory only to hid and try and run from it. This seed does not care who you are or where you live.  It seeks the rich and the poor, young and old.  It finds the crack and buries itself there to root and grow.

The seed also has a voice.  The voice tells them they are not worthy, not good enough, undeserving and alone.  How is it you can be in a room full of people yet feel completely alone? How is it you can have all the money in the world yet feel worthless? How is it you can achieve greatness yet feel not good enough? This is the voice they hear.  This is the voice those of us who have never heard and some who have but have managed to not succumb fully to its power need to rise up against.

Our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors and those who we cross path with daily need our attention.  An open heart of love from us shining into their darkness.  We can reach out.  We can ask the questions we may be too uncomfortable or afraid to ask and then we must wait and listen for them to answer.  Our listening is so important!  Our next steps may be alongside them to find help.

As family members, friends, and confidants, we have a responsibility to assist the people we care about. For people who have never seriously contemplated ending their own lives, it is challenging to understand the mind-set of an individual with suicidal thoughts. As the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, understanding where suicidal thoughts come from is necessary if we want to help individuals contemplating suicide.

Suicide Prevention Strategies You Can Use

If a family member or friend expresses suicidal thoughts, do not ignore them. They might desperately need your help. Here are a few tactful steps you can take to help a loved one at risk for suicide:

  • Ask questions in a mild and sincere manner.
  • Explain why you are asking questions.
  • Express that your loved one is not alone. Tell them you are there for them and will continue to be there.
  • If the individual is not comfortable speaking with you, suggest a qualified third party such as a therapist, spiritual leader, or doctor.
  • Do not passively tell the person to just call a hotline; lead the person to helpful resources such as suicide hotlines and local mental health associations.
  • Help the person schedule and keep appointments with a mental health professional, even if the individual no longer feels suicidal.

 

All Time Favorite – Photo Challenge

As a photographer it is hard to choose a “favorite” image.  Personally I have hundreds.  I was sad to read this was the last installment of the weekly wordpress photo challenge.  I have enjoyed seeing so many amazing photos and reading people’s interpretations each week.

I chose this image because whenever I look at it I feel and see so much!  My husband and went to India for the first time in January of 2016.  This photo, shot in Old Delhi, tells a story.  I see this man in a walking meditation, peaceful and contemplative, perhaps deep in thought or maybe without! But even from behind he seems so at ease and at peace.  Around him, the sights and sounds and smells of an old and dirty street.  People doing business, selling and shopping, people on the move making their way to and from a destination. If you dive in and look around the grey-brown dirty street and buildings you catch beautiful colors poking out of shops.  The colors of India!

Thank you for this forum.  I will miss it

Lea

 

Firsts

First impressions

First love

First day of

First born

First (fill in the blank)

What do you feel when you hear “the first?” What comes to your mind? Do you feel happy or maybe hopeful? Or can hearing this make you disappointed or depressed? I believe there are certain words that hold power and “the first” can be among them. If we think about it in terms of the calendar, well, today is May 1st.  The beginning of a new month. Then there is January first which is always celebrated and we even create pressure on ourselves to make resolutions – of which how many do we truly hold true to? I see both sides here. First, we can psychologically give ourselves permission to start over to begin anew with this date as a marker. Then there might be the melancholy of life marching on as the calendar ticks to another new year. We might feel the pressure to list those resolutions and depending on your state of mind, you may either be forgiving of yourself if you break them or let them go or you may beat yourself up and feel less than or worthless.

There are other “firsts” that we encounter too on our journey through life.  Our first lost tooth, our first haircut, our first love or kiss.  Maybe the first is not so gentle or kind; our first tumble off a bike, our first heartbreak or death, our first ticket.  Whatever the “first”, they are markers. We remember them and they live in our subconscious with feelings and emotions surrounding them.  Firsts change the course of our life. Firsts are something new, unique, out of the ordinary — that we have never experienced before.  Small or large, wonderful or painful, each of them has the potential for an equally large impact on your life.

Not only is today May Day, it is also the day my daughter is moving out again. This will not be the first time she has moved out of our home but is will be the first time she is leaving CLEAN.  She moved back in with us a year ago February and while it has not been easy to have her here, it has been comforting for me to see her. My emotions are mixed.  Happiness, worry, frustration are among some of my immediate feelings. I am happy she is making steps to be self sufficient.  I am worried about the added financial burden on us as she does not make enough money without our help.  I am also worried about her ability to function on her own as she has not done this successfully in the past. I am frustrated with myself for not working my own program to keep my boundaries clear and detaching the way I should for my own self-care.

So here is to another “first.” May God bless it.  And may you take time to think about the firsts in your life thus far and maybe what is to come. You know, those things you want to do or change or try. Maybe you can even try one today.

How many things do you think they’ve done for the first time?

Each of our firsts sets us on a different path. It opens our eyes to a new part of the world — or better yet — a new part of ourselves. When we experience something we’ve never experienced before, there is no predicting how it’s going to change us. There is no predicting what it’s going to make us realize that we do (or don’t) want. There is no predicting what direction it’s going to take our life in. So I need to embrace with hope and love and faith in God’s plan that she will move forward with the plan God has designed and so will I.

 

#Beautyfromashes

Last weekend I was in NYC with two long time girlfriends for some R&R.  I woke up early on Sunday morning, as I always do, even on vacation.  Lying in bed, I opened up my email on my phone and looked at an email time stamped at 5:40 am from my church.  Of course my first thought was maybe I was supposed to serve this morning and did not write it on my calendar and was getting some update on the service for the day.  I was briefly upset with myself that I was going to be a “no show” for communion which I try never to do!

Those thoughts came and went within seconds as I opened the email and began to read the news of our church fire.  I had to read the email a couple of times.  My brain was struggling with this.  Our church?  St. Andrew’s? I have read and seen photos of other churches but this can’t possibly have happened to our church! So once my denial subsided and I accepted that yes, this was indeed, our Ministry Center that had gone up in a blaze, I wept quietly and prayed.

The first photos I saw were of flames shooting up into the dark predawn sky.  It was hard to tell how much of the ministry center was engulfed but it did not look good.  In the light of day, this drone shot told the story.  When you look at this, multitudes of thoughts and feelings stirred within me. While our historic church was untouched by the fire, our ministry center is gone.  I thought about my journey at St Andrew’s over the past 15 years.  I flashed through memories of my son going to youth groups and confirmation. I was reminded of my service at the alter reading the word of God and administering communion.  Alpha and bible studies. Prayer I received over the years for myself and my family. Calling to mind my meetings with Steve Wood, my fearless pastor, who saw me through struggles with my daughter’s addiction and my husband’s alcohol abuse.  Moments in time, happy and difficult.  As Christians we are not promised an easy life when we accept Jesus’ invitation. We are called to serve and be uncomfortable some times.  It is with a heart full of the Fruit of the Spirit that make the times we are brought to our knees in discomfort, sadness and pain that make us warriors for the Cross of Christ.

So what I saw next affirmed that for me because what is NOT gone (as you can see) is so much bigger!  The Lord promised to bring beauty from ashes!  Our wooden cross still  stands untouched by the flames.  In my mind’s eye I can see the mighty host of angels surrounding and protecting it.  Perhaps it was so we could “SEE AND BELIEVE” to offer us a sign that we will be fine as a church and as a community of believers.

 

Isaiah 61:3 “To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

First Peter 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

This week we have been updated continuously.  I am grateful to everyone who has had a hand in the recovery this past week.  The firefighters who were quick to act, our vestry and clergy who are working tirelessly to get us up and running again.  Our congregation who stands ready to lend a hand and a home and anything else when needed.

And now with the cross wrapped like our Lord on the Cross, we live the Easter Story for we will rise as Jesus did on the glorious day!

“The Wonderful Cross”

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

 

 

Lines – Photo Challenge

The Battery Spring 2018
Lea Austen Photography

While I was waiting for a client a few weeks ago I shot this photo of the beautiful park we were meeting in.  This is White Point Garden, or The Battery, located at the bottom of the Charleston Peninsula.  It is a graceful and welcoming place.  Families, tourists, photographers and clients, weddings and surprise proposals, along with the joggers, dog walkers and blanket sitters can be found here.

This week’s challenge had to do with lines.  Like Cheri, I chose a photo where you have the graceful almost whimsical curves of the live oaks nestled around the gazebo with its columns and octagonal shape.  I also love the way the four paths intersect creating the spaces of this garden.

If you ever come to this beautiful city, spending time here is well worth the sit!  If you close your eyes and breath in the sounds and smells you may even be transported to another time.

 

Practicing Non-Attachment

 

Practicing Non-Attachment


by Madisyn Taylor

 THIS IS FROM DAILY OM

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to allow our children to be who they want to be.

Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of non-attachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free.

Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing non-attachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what’s best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don’t respect, or don’t understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring –independence.

Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice non-attachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.

I so needed to read these words!  I hope they help you too

Peace!

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