Unorthodox and Unhinged

Tales of a Manic Christian


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Inked!!

Henna does not hurt.

Partying like it was 1999 – which it was – I spent a little sliver of my sabbatical at Venice Beach. I stayed with my new age, hipster, therapist friend Carey. We went rollerblading. We got our hair braided into a thousand little braids. We got our picture taken with a few outrageous costumed personalities. And we got “tattooed”.

I got a little tiny henna shamrock on my left shoulder.

It did not hurt.

Back home, I would slip my shoulder out of my sleeve and show it off. I showed it off to my kids. I showed it off to my coworkers. I showed it off at church.

“O my God!” people squealed, “Is it real?”

I’d smile slyly and then reveal the truth – the half truth.

“Yes, it’s real, at least for a little while until the shower washes it away.”

My shoulder did itch though. It itched for the real thing.

So on that same Sabbath break, on pilgrimage to the Emerald Isle, on the next to last day of my stay – I walked into a Dublin tattoo parlor. Cheered on by fellow pilgrims – both on my left and on my right – I bravely went forward to get the real deal.

“Could I please get a little green shamrock on my shoulder?”

“Sorry, mam, no appointments today. How about tomorrow?”

My shoulders slumped.

“Tomorrow? I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow. Don’t know when I will ever get back to Dublin again. Maybe I’ll get one when I get back home.”

Maybe.

Landed safely stateside, I told my friends this story. I told my coworkers this story. I told my kids this story – the story of the almost shamrock tattoo.

And I told it so many times over so many years, that my kids grew  sick and tired of hearing it. So sick and tired, they decided to put a stop to it once and for all.

Christmas, 2011, they gave me the real deal as a gift. And January of 2012 we all went together to JinksProof Tattoo. Zach and Colleen watched as the artist stitched a little four leaf clover on my left shoulder.

It hurt.

First they outlined it. Then they colored it in. Needle worked into my skin, my little shamrock is shorthand for who I am:

A Celtic soul.

Bipolar Boudica.

Druidic priestess.

Earth mother of four.

Rebel with a cause.

Squeamish of needles –

or something like that.

But this outward and visible sign is tattooed where I can discretely hide it away. I can cover it up with a sweater, a shawl, or a blouse – and choose to show it only to those I choose —  a game of peek-a-boo of sorts.

And this is our family rule when it comes to tattoos.

Just one, tasteful and discrete.

Rebecca, my earth mother eldest,raised under a different roof,  broke this rule, I believe.

Colleen, my social justice child has a little peace dove on her foot.

Zach, my film maker son, has Elvis’s TCB Lightning bolt branded on his arm.

Jacob, my youngest, has considered getting a falcon (maybe the Millennium Falcon?) on which part of his person I am not sure.

Just one and we are done. Well, not quite.

In my electronic inbox July 15, 2015, at 10:51 pm to be exact, my colleague Chuck MCoart sent me a link to a piece in the Huffington Post. No message, just “Possible blog post idea” in the subject line.

So I clicked on the link and up comes a  story about a tattoo. A very special tattoo. A semicolon. There is a picture of a young woman with one tattooed to her wrist. Her name is Amy Bluel and she founded The Semicolon Project.

inked-photos.jpg

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you.”

Amy got the first tattooed semicolon  when she lost her father to suicide in 2013. She was jut 18.  Amy in her young life has experienced far more than her share of pain. She is a survivor of the foster care system, sexual abuse and has lived with depression, darkness, and her own attempts at self harm.

But she says it was her father’s suicide “that brought more pain to my life than anything I have ever experienced.”

It could have been her end too.

Period.

But instead Amy chose the semicolon. She chose to go on and she founded the Semicolon Project “a faith based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire.”

A great idea for a blog post! But in all honesty I couldn’t blog about it unless I honestly got one myself.

Because in all honesty, about a dozen year ago my own bipolar brain was clouded by such darkness. I know what it’s like to want to put a big black period at the end of my sentence. To go to sleep, say goodnight, hoping not to wake up anymore.

Joani Peaoock. The End. Period. Goodbye.

But alleluia, I did not. I paused before making a complete and final stop. I punctuated my life with a semicolon – so many semicolons – and I have gone on. By the grace of God and the blessings of meds and therapy, and the company of a hundred friends, and the love of my children, and valuable work, involvement with the community – I am still here. Marvelously, gratefully, jubilantly still here.

So I got one that very July 15, 2015 afternoon. I walked into Great Southern Tattoo and got a little black semicolon on my wrist, a little outward and visible sign of hope and healing. I got one so that I will always remember and never forget — the joy of waking up each and every day – no matter how lousy that day might be.

I got it to remember that every single day is a Holy Day.

And yes, it did hurt; to hurt is human; to hurt is essential to being fully alive.

JoaniSign

NOTE: Emmanuel is screening Ed Hardy:Tattoo the World, Sunday, January 28th at 6:00 PM. This 75 minute film explores the history of tattoos while telling the story of the filmmaker’s life — one of the most consequential contemporary tattoo artists. Come for popcorn, librations and a great discussion. 1608 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA 22301.


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“Besties, Bromances & Soulmates” -Post-Election Therapy

besties-bromances-and-soulmates-picture

This time last year, I was feeling “Bookish”.

Having met Meredith Maslich, at the Story District rebrand bash, I was psyched to learn that she heads – Possibilities Publishing – a unique, boutique, partnership approach to the book trade.

Maybe I could turn Unorthodox & Unhinged into a book?  A radically manic idea! Meredith and I met over coffee to discuss the possibility. But the journey, from blogger to author, is in reality a gargantuan leap.

Long story short: U&U has not morphed into a book.

But short story long: U&U has made into a book.

A reflective piece I wrote, Make New Friends and…, is the opening chapter in Besties, Bromances & Soulmates, this year’s Possibilities Publishing anthology. Between its covers, half a dozen writers explore “pivotal relationships” and the gift of friendship through short story, essay, fiction and non.

So is it any wonder that”Thank you for being my friend”, the old Golden Girls’  theme song, is ringing in my ears. And this post election week, it rings all the more dearly and resonates all the more deeply.

Our country has just come “through the great ordeal”. Well, we are not actually through anything.

Post election, I am experiencing waves of grief. I am stumbling, disoriented as if awoken from a bad dream. My bleeding heart liberal sensibilities have been overwhelmed. Knocked down and beneath these waves, I struggle to come up for air.

How about you?

As a coping mechanism, I have poured myself into my work. In just two days, I plowed through two week’s worth. I have stayed up later and gotten up earlier, cramming 27 plus hours into my day.  Possibly by abandoning sleep, my busyness will belay my fears.

Mania, for a day or two or three, is awesome.

Mania, for a week or two or three, not so much.

So how do I – do we – rein in the mania when we are feeling so unmoored?

Well, very simply, by tightening the ties that bind.

By calling friends,

talking with friends,

having coffee with friends, dinner with friends,

walking with friends,

hiking with friends,

biking with friends,

Netflix/Hulu binge watching with friends,

cocktail partying with friends,

road tripping with friends,

book clubbing with friends,

bar hopping with friends,

pew sitting with friends,

praying with friends,

couch surfing with friends,

shooting the breeze or catching a movie with friends,

cooking with friends,

baking with friends,

crafting with friends,

board gaming with friends,

protesting with friends,

witnessing with friends,

volunteering with friends,

peace making with friends,

reconciling with friends.

Common ground, mutual support, trust, concern and compassion.

Love, respect, and admiration.

Friends restore one another’s souls and revive one another’s spirits.

This art of “befriending” is fueled by our tending to our friendships. Befriending the other, the new, the stranger, in this post-election season, is desperately what we need. Not rushing to an easy or happy-clappy reconciliation, but working towards deep, honest, life affirming connections.

Working towards a radical “we”.

Which brings me back to Besties, Bromances & Soulmatea perfect little book to honor a friend or tuck into a Christmas stocking (or for Chanukah, Kwanzaa, etc.). These half a dozen stories celebrate the  pivotal relationships in our lives.

Friendship begets friendship.

Love begets love.

December 11th at 4:00 PM, this little book is going to be launched. Its a friendly affair with author readings, book signings, and refreshments at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 1608 Russell Rd in Alexandria, VA.

Bring a friend, a family member, an acquaintance, a coworker. Invite a Muslim friend, a Mormon friend, a Jewish friend, a Buddhist friend, an agnostic friend, an immigrant friend, an LGBTQ friend, an African American friend, a Hispanic friend, an old friend, your BFF, your next door neighbor, or the new guy who just moved in from across the street.

Ask a Hillary voter or a Trump supporter to come along.

It’s the Christian thing to do.

The price of admission? New warm hats/gloves/mittens/scarves in all sizes for our friends at Carpenters Shelter in Alexandria. Click here to RSVP.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

JoaniSign


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Mental Health Day

ferris and the ferrari

Ferris and the Ferarri

Remember Ferris Bueller’s Bacchanalia?

Ferris’s best class was cutting class. On the verge of graduation, he can’t resist the temptation to skip one last time. He “barfs up a lung” and calls in sick. He “borrows” a Ferarri and convinces his hypochondriac sidekick to go along for the ride. They take off through the streets of Chicago. Hilarious misadventure ensues.

Ferris hijacks a float in the city’s Van Steuben Day Parade, grabs a microphone, twirls it like a baton, and steals the show. All along the parade route, bystanders break out break dancing. Rock out, Chicago!

The Ferrari unfortunately does not fare as well as Ferris does.

The 1961 250 GT goes airborne twice to the Star Wars theme. It does not make it through the credits. Ferris and his friend run it in reverse in hopes of turning the odometer back. But there is no resurrecting the car. Driverless it takes a suicide dive off a cliff into the trees below.

“You killed the car.”

Ferris Bueller just celebrated his “30th” birthday. For thirty years the film has inspired high schoolers to take a “mental health day”. For thirty years the film has inspired really just about everyone to take one incredible and unforgettable “mental health day”.

“Mental health day” , of course, means you’re faking it. You’re lying. You’re goofing off. You’re playing hookie. You’re going AWOL. You’re sneaking around – hoping not to get caught.

Manically speaking, however — “mental health day” — I am here to tell you — is a very real thing.

I took one just the other day.

Hypo-manically flying beneath the radar, I climb, I soar, I swoop and ascend. I coast on clouds in blue, blue skies – on clouds of voluminous white.

My flight is fueled by work, by books, by friends, by family, by church, by walking, by music, by earth, by wind, by fire.

My flight is fueled by coffee and caffeine and extracurriculars.

I f*ing ace at extracurriculars.

I begin to believe that I have flown above my bipolar brain, that I’ve broken the bipolar sound barrier. I believe I’ve discovered anti-gravity.  My feet need never touch the ground again. The only direction to go is UP!

So I stay up later doing more and more. I stay up later and I get up earlier – because even in my dreams my head is racing. Racing, racing, racing and there is no finish line. There is no finish line at all.

And then hoped for things do not come true and along with that comes a rejection and a disappointment or two.

I can handle it. I can handle it. I can handle it, I tell myself. And then I can’t.

I wake up with a dull, twisted, knotted feeling in my stomach. It’s a nauseous feeling tinged with grief and loss. And this grownup woman is bereft as a child.

I curl up in the fetal position, the covers pulled over my head, and then a little voice says,

“I think it’s best, Joani, if you take a mental health day.”

A mental health day is a very real thing – just as real any day away for a virus or a broken limb. Your brain is broken and you are in fear of literally losing your mind. You feel your soul slipping from your grip. You pray not to sink beneath the waves.

Call in sick. Go back to bed.

Yes, call in sick.

But DO NOT, let me repeat, DO NOT climb back into that bed. Get up out that f*ing bed – no matter how f*ing hard it is. Make that bed up as best you can so that you can’t slip between the sheets again.

Eat something real. Wear something gorgeous and go out the f*ing door. Soak in the sun or walk in the soaking rain. Go outside no matter what the weatherman says.

Find yourself a table at a little offbeat bistro and order a gourmet meal. Walk down to the river. Read a book.

See your therapist. Visit a friend. Call your daughter.

Talk to God and rattle some beads.

Go home. Crank up the music and dance in your living room.

Take a shower, take your meds, and get a good night’s sleep.

Re-animate yourself.

Resurrect yourself.

Take a mental health day.

It’s a very real thing – a very real thing, indeed.

JoaniSign


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Hoovering and Hovering in the Vacuum of Space

A prescription for depression.

A prescription for depression.

Whenever I hauled the upright Hoover out of the hall closet, my children would invariably ask: Who’s coming over? Who is coming over that warrants hoovering up all this dust? Now unfortunately we did not just clean up for anybody and my children knew that when they heard the vacuum someone pretty damn important was coming over. And any of you who have ever seen my office or my car, will understand that cleanliness has never been my strong suit nor was it my children’s. In order to make room for company, we had to clear out the clutter… the pile of newspapers… the books… the magazines.. junk mail from the kitchen table… the dishes out of the sink… the Legos from the floor… And then once we had relocated the carpet… we would haul out the Hoover.

There is a painted slate with pride of place in my kitchen that says: “My house was clean last week. Sorry you missed it!” When my children were little, I blamed the clutter and the chaos on them. When my children were grown and gone, I confess the mess was mine and mine alone. It was not the vacuum in the hall closet’s fault, but a vacuum was involved, a vacuum that invariably tugged at my soul.   The tug was subtle, almost imperceptible and quite incremental. But it was definitely a downward tug– a tug to a slightly darker place.

So for a very long time, I hardly ever hauled out the Hoover. I didn’t really notice at first but I started sleeping a little later, staying in my pajamas a little longer, and going to bed a little earlier. Dishes would pile up in my sink and dirty laundry on my bedroom floor. My trashcans had to overflow before I would empty them. And my clothes rarely made it back into the closet. My mailbox got so clogged with letters and bills, both my creditors and the post office sent me threatening notices. And the dust that settled all over my house was so thick, I could write my name in it.

Remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.

And I thought I was okay. I really thought I was okay because I was getting by. But that is all I was doing – just getting by. I still got up, I still got dressed, I still got myself to work. But I would wait until the very last possible moment to go out the door. And once at work, I would leave at the earliest possible opportunity. Home again, home again, please, just let me go home again. Home again, home again, just to barely get by.

But I really believed I was okay. I was functioning and functional. I did not notice what others noticed. I did not notice that I was ill, really ill. I did not notice but my children did. My grown up children, Zach and Colleen and Jacob, noticed and they sat me down and told me so. They literally sat me down at my own dining room table — piled high with unanswered mail and cluttered with coffee cops.

And this is what they told me.

“Mom, we love you. Take a look around you. Things are falling apart. You are falling apart. You aren’t taking care of yourself and it scares us. We love you and we want you to be around for a long time. Please pay attention. Please take care of yourself.”

I tried not to cry. I tried to tell them I really was okay. But when they got up and left that day, I knew that they were right. I had been living in darkness, in a place that was empty and hollow and shallow and cold. I was living in that flat, flat space, in an empty hole in my soul, called depression.

This lack of insight, this lack of ability to recognize one’s own mental illness, psychiatrists call, anosognosia. It is different in kind from simple denial. You are not trying to hide from yourself what you know to be true. You truly do not see yourself as ill; you see no need for treatment; and you are virtually blind to the consequences of your illness on yourself and on those around you.

It is only in hindsight, distant hindsight, looking back over a decade that I can truly see how truly sick I was.

In the light I can see now, how dark, dark was that empty space. And I do not want to ever go back there. I work very hard so that I won’t have to go back there. But sometimes even while basking in the sun, that dark and empty space still tugs on my soul.

But cosmologically speaking, even empty space is not empty. It pops with subatomic particles, popping in and out of existence with quirky names like quarks, leptons, bosons, gluons, and muons. These include the now confirmed Higgs-Boson “God particle” that conveys mass and the yet unconfirmed graviton. Those quirky quarks are my favorites being “up, down, charmed, strange, top and bottom”. And, of course, let’s not forget the photons, the bearers of light.

The fabric of space hides itself in darkness. Dark velvety space is a fabric that matter bends and twists. Lit by the particles of light, the visible universe contains millions of billions of galaxies, each galaxy with millions of billions of stars, and untold millions of planets circling them. And here we are on this fragile earth, our little island home on the outer edge of the swirling and whirling Milky Way.

But much of what keeps the universe together cannot be seen. It resides in the darkness. Biblically speaking its as if God did not stop with “Let there be light” but also mysteriously added “Let there be dark”. Specifically according to that famous biblical scholar (not!), cosmologist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in his book, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, we learn that the universe is filled with both dark matter and dark energy.

Dark matter is the equivalent of gravitational super glue. Surrounding galaxies like a halo, dark matter keeps stars and planets in their courses over visible matter by a factor of six. What we cannot see binds stardust together. And we are all made of stardust, crafted and created from the stuff born in the belly of stars.

And at the same time, as Hubble discovered in 1923, the universe is expanding. It’s not only expanding, it is speeding up. Based on the Big Bang, and a bazillon other variables, cosmologists calculated the speed. But space is speedier. Literally space itself is expanding. More space is coming into existence, stretching the distance between already distant galaxies. And again,  what is visible in the universe cannot account for it. But because of Einstein’s equation E=mc2, the conversion of matter into energy based on the square of the speed of light, we know something is really out there, really making this happen. Cosmologists call it dark energy.

So creation happens as much in the dark as it does in the light. In fact, more so in the dark.

Think back to those dark and difficult places and spaces in your life. Think back to those dark nights of your soul. Consider the burdens you have carried, the heaviness you have borne, the singularity of your sorrow. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death, did you walk alone? Walking through the valley of the shadow of death, did you catch a glimmer of Light?

Space opens up inside you. Space opens up around you. Space expands in all directions and light makes all that is good visible again. The Light makes visible  — your life again. The Light of the Sprit breathes life — reviving your soul.

Some call the Light, God. I do — because in God the night and the day are both alike. In God the dark and the light are both necessary. On the mythic first day of the seven days of creation, God created light out of the dark. He called the dark, night, and the light, day. And he called them both good. Yes, good.

Yes. Good news. Good news for a bipolar soul.

JoaniSign


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“Lost in Space” — Maybe. Lost to God — Never.

Mork, from stardust he came, to stardust he returns.

Mork, from stardust he came, to stardust he returns.

In 1966 the universe  — namely my universe —  expanded exponentially.  Thursday nights at nine o’clock on NBC I boarded the USS Enterprise. “Space, the final frontier” called to me and I answered the call. This was a mission, this little missionary, could barely conceive of – to “explore new worlds, seek new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no man has gone before.” Well I was “no man”. I was an awkward eleven year-old, a little Roman Catholic cosmonaut. Star Trek sounded like heaven to me. So in 1966  this little Trekkie was born.

I am a Trekkie still — a closet Trekkie.  I don’t go to conventions or dress up like a Romulan or speak Klingon, but I am still quite an officianado of Star Trek – especially the original Star Trek. I have all 80 episodes on DVD and a commemorative edition that came with a fluffy, purring, pink Tribble. I dorkily have plastic action figures of the crew, including the Captain and his coffee pot. Nothing clears the room quite so quickly at my house as when I tune in and hunker down to watch the reruns marathon style. (An extended ritual I go through about once a year!) I am especially fond of the episodes where the brazen and brash Captain James T. Kirk quite literally loses his shirt.

This 1960’s series is still  a great solace to my dorky soul. While the cast and crew battle the unknown forces of the universe, I am comforted by the plethora of “M” class planets. “M” class planets are scattered all across the Milky Way and each one is capable of sustaining human life. I think “M” stands for miracle. Miraculously even the aliens speak English. The 430 crew members may be  “Lost in Space” but they are  never ever really far from home.

Star Trek was light years ahead of its time. Light years ahead of the space operas that came before it. But it is missing something that those quaint and quirky sci-fi series deeply understood. What is it like to truly be a stranger in a strange land?

My Favorite Martian blinked off the air the same year that Star Trek blinked on. Exigius, the exo-anthropologist from Mars crashed his one-man spaceship in the Hollywood Hills. Stranded he was taken in by a newspaper reporter who passes him off as “Uncle Martin”. (Sitting on the biggest story of his lifetime!) Each episode Uncle Martin tries to keep his antenna down and and stay undercover. The going gets difficult though — especially when he breaks out in Martian mumps and measles. Things get crazy and confused. The laugh track prompts the television audience exactly when to laugh.  And the audience does as they are told. They laugh in all the right places not just because it is funny. They laugh in all the right places because it is true.

“Being a stranger in a strange land” was a sure fire formula for sit-com success. After My Favorite Martian came ALF – the furry Alien Life Form from  Melmac with an appetite for cats. 3rd Rock from the Sun debuted in 1996 with a house full of  extraterrestrials disguised as a college professor, a curvaceous military expert, and a teenager. And of course, there was the hilarious 1970’s series — Mork and Mindy.

Mork – the world of course knows – was played by the manically comic and the manically gifted Robin Williams. And the world was stunned this week to learn that Mork had died by his own hand. After battling a lifetime of depression and addiction, he succumbed to the darkness.  Mork hung himself quite literally from a metaphorical tree, the frame of his bedroom door. And now the whole world is crying for the loss of this amazing man who never failed to make us laugh.

So how could this possibly be? He was hilarious. He was happy. He was a comedian beyond compare. He was “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Patch Adams”. He was our ever-shining star of stage and screen. But even stars run out of fuel. Even stars implode. Even stars turn dark.

Mork’s mood disorder – specifically bipolar disorder  — was the demon that plagued him most of his life. Depression and its companion mania are commonly misunderstood. Happiness and sadness are ordinary human emotions. They ebb and flow with the ups and downs of everyday life and they ebb and flow in  us all. But different in kind are the moods that manifest themselves in the heights of mania and in the depths of. depression. It’s not about being happy or sad; it’s about the size of your universe. On the up side you are exploring the galaxy with Captain Kirk. On the downside you can barely get out bed.

“Barely” is the operative word. While those who live with depression often can barely get out of bed —  they in fact regularly do. And they do so to different degrees.The effort it takes  to change out your pajamas can be painstaking. The simplest of tasks can take enormous energy. And yet — even so –depressed folks get to work on time. Depressed folks work hard and get promoted. Depressed folks run companies. Depressed folks run marathons. And depressed folks also run like crazy to escape their depression. Depressed folks are very good at disguise. Depressed folks are marvelous actors. They have to be — because they are strangers in a strange land.

And this is how a star implodes. Every last little bit of fuel is exhausted. Every energy source is completely depleted – be it physical, spiritual, or emotional. And you are Lost in Space. The universe may be expanding but so does the void within you. You have absolutely nothing left. Today is an unthinkable burden and the thought of tomorrow is unbearable. And you go to bed not wanting to wake up anymore. You believe yourself a “foreigner and a stranger on earth….looking for a country of your own” (Hebrews 11:13-14) A country not of this world.

People tell you to be patient; that the pain will subside; the crisis will pass.  But you do not believe them. How could they possibly know if they haven’t suffered so? You just want it to be over, now and forever more. So in the depths of despair people take their own lives; die at their own hands.  In the US nearly 40,000 people this past year. Nearly 20,000 by firearms.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is no greater taboo – than suicide — that so sorely needs to be talked about. No taboo that so sorely needs to be brought out into the open.

Difficult as it may be, we need  to speak this truth in love. When we believe a loved one, family member, coworker or friend is thinking of hurting themselves  — we need to ask them just that. With compassion and concern: “I am worried about you. I have noticed (whatever you have noticed) and I want to ask if you are you thinking about hurting yourself?” It’s a myth that discussing and naming a loved one’s suicidal thoughts — puts these thoughts into their heads. Not true. Directly asking a person whether they are thinking of suicide can save that person’s life. Mentioning it out loud can be an enormous relief. Mentioning it out loud allows your loved one to name and claim the demons that haunt them. If your loved one answers yes – or if you believe the answer is yes — then call 911. Stay with them until help arrives. Don’t be afraid to appear foolish or wrong. You cannot diagnose your friend but you can perform first aid, call an ambulance and get them to  professional help. And if you need help finding the words — sign up for Mental Health First Aid (mentalhealthfirstaid.org).

In ages past the church classified  suicide a mortal sin, denied the dead burial in sacred ground, and condemned the sinner to the fires of hell. Christianity was not alone in its error. Historically in Judaism suicides were also segregated to separate sections of  cemeteries and the dead buried with lesser rites. Islam views suicide as the gravest of sins and anathema to eternal life. Muhammad says that anyone who throws themself down from the mountain will eternally be falling into the depths of hell. For Hindus suicide violates the code of “ahisma”, the code of non-violence and one who takes their own life will forever wander the earth as a ghost.

Blessedly for Christians  — and believers of other kinds —  this theology is mostly no more. But old beliefs die a hard death. Its seems virtually beyond belief that anyone could still believe in such a cold-hearted god – a god so devoid of compassion. But people still do. So  —  biblically speaking  — let me speak to the matter of suicide and how God decides the disposition of our souls.

Saul may have fallen on his own sword; Judas may have hung himself from a tree. Out of the depths of despair, they may have condemned themselves to hell. But God did not.

The God who loves us — loves us most desperately.  God  understands the depths of despair because  God himself has been there. Our God knows what it is like to lose his own life.  Our God knows what its like to lose his own soul, to be emptied with nothing left to give. God in Jesus — just as human as you and me — gave up all that he had and all that he was. He gave it all up  so that the whole world might be graced with compassion  – graced by forgiveness. That the whole world would taste and see that God is good.  Be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, Scientologist, Wiccan, Agnostic, Atheist, Romulan, Vulcan, Klingon, Earthling, or none of the above — . We may be lost in life, bereft in death . We may be  lost in this place and in this time, but lost to God — NEVER.

At least that’s the God I believe in. And It’s the same God I believe that Mork believed in as well.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant Robin with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing but life everlasting. 

From stardust he came. To stardust he returns.  All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia! Alleluia! Nanu! Nanu!

JoaniSign