“Two Sides of the Sea”

Brainstormers, Depression

Kristy’s sermon at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church affected me greatly. She began by describing the moment in Exodus 14 when the Israelites crossed the sea and entered into the unknown.

“There is a very still moment in this story. Amidst the chase and the army and the chariots and the people crying out after God has spoken after Moses has raised his arms up to see the wind and the sea move in ways that took his breath away… after running from their lives, after the water crashes down – before the singing and the dancing. There is a very still moment.

“The people of Israel stand on the shore of the water and it feels as if time has slowed and noise has faded. Looking around, they see the shore, littered with chariots and bodies and horses. No signs of movements. No signs of breath. They see the water, blocking the way between their old life and where they currently stand. And they see the desert- miles and miles of empty desert, calling to them.”(read sermon: http://storage.cloversites.com/gracecovenantpresbyterianchurch1/documents/sr%20-17May2015.Exodus14.RedSea.pdf)

She continued by saying that no one goes into the desert unless they have to. The RSV uses the word “wilderness” instead of “desert” but it really was a desert. When I think of the wilderness, I think of a lush place, full of water and vegetation but this word does not accurately describe their wilderness.

Picture of Worship Bulletin.

Picture on Worship Bulletin.

I have always liked the desert. I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents who lived in Arizona when I was a child living in Detroit. They had a desert across the street from their home where I would often go and look at the cacti and the lizards. Of course that was the 1970’s and I could always walk back across the street and get a drink and some cookies from my grandmother. That was not the desert of the Israelites. The Israelites had no food or water and the sun was so hot people wore plenty of clothes to protect themselves from it.

Kristy said the Israelites were fearful and, fear blinds us from seeing God.” Yes it does. I struggle with fear and it seems I walk in the desert often. Walking there shuts me down and I become depressed. In the early years of my TBI, I remember spending days just lying on the sofa and seeing no light at all. I’ve experienced this depression so often that I’ve learned how to deal with it. It’s a little like falling off a cliff. I often feel myself getting closer and closer to the cliff and if I catch it early enough, I don’t fall off.

When I feel it coming on, I do nothing that isn’t absolutely necessary. I missed a recent Presbytery meeting for this reason. I swim and read more. I force myself to work outside in the garden even if I don’t feel like it. I spend time alone just resting. It often feels like I’m never going to get out of the desert but I always do.

Kristy quoted Luke Powery at Duke Chapel who said, “When we lose our imagination, we lose our future.” She continued “without an imagination, we cannot have any hope” and that we are often told “you’re just imagining it” so we learn not to trust our imagination.

It is hard for me to imagine a better future. I often want to go back to the past where I planned to become a great preacher. I wanted to become one of those pastors folks respected and trusted. I wanted to serve a church in an urban area or be a chaplain. Kristy said, “But when we spend all of our time looking back at what we once had or where we once were, we have no capacity to look forward. We have no capacity to imagine. We are not giving God any room to lead.”

So I’m trying to imagine. The support group Michael and I began called “Brainstormers Collective” is going well. We are beginning a Facebook page called “Brainstormers Collective of WNC.” It’s in its infancy but who knows what the future holds? I can only imagine.

If you have a brain injury or other disability, what do you imagine? How is life for you now? (Feel free to reply even if you don’t have a brain injury!)

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