I made this journal entry yesterday:
Today I went to bible study as the weight of my depression seemed to be lifting. I missed last week’s session and everybody had been concerned. And this is the thing. I had sent an email to our group coordinator and group leader but did not mention the depression. I thought, who wants to hear about depression anyway? And, man, was I wrong!
Anyway, I got to bible study and we began with sharing concerns and anything. This morning we received, via email, a pastoral notification from the rector that a long-time member of the congregation went home to be with the Lord last night. We spent some time sharing memories of this most amazing individual who, even as he was going through treatment for cancer, he remained very active in the theater group he was part of, kept up with his hobbies of water rafting and wind surfing, all of this as if nothing at all – including chemotherapy – had any effect on him. A man who enjoyed life to the fullest under all circumstances.
We also reflected over the wonderful time we shared with a 60+ years member of the congregation who also went to be with the Lord and whose life we’ll celebrate on Friday. A very active member of the church in various ministries, including leadership of our bible study group some years ago. The first day I came to bible study I happened to sit next to her as we went around the table with introductions. At 96 she told me she had hearing difficulty in her left ear and wanted me to make sure I spoke to her right ear. She and I shared the prayer book and the text we had for that day though when it was her turn to read, she passed it on to me.
She was the first person I knew by name on my first day of bible study; she ensured that I felt welcome and from then on she left no doubt whatsoever that everyday I knew I was part of the group.
Then our group leader turned to me. The response of the email I copied to him last week showed someone who really cared. “Joel”, he wrote, “please let me know that you’re O.K”. It touched my heard especially as I knew he was expressing not only his own sentiments, but also the love and care of the whole group. So, I shared the story I wrote about in the last blog.
I even opened up about something very strange that happened to me during my bereavement. As I mentioned, for a couple of weeks I could not do anything – I was blank. Strangely though, I remembered a documentary I saw some years ago about history’s worst aviation disaster at Tenerife airport in the Canary islands on 27 March, 1977. For some still unknown reason, I found myself obsessed with the documentary and I watched the video over and over and over. It was the only thing I could do and it would not release me from its grip.
I saw everybody staring at me with shock – literally, wide eyed. “Alright”, I said to myself, “they must be saying, he is a nut; let’s get out of here!” But nobody ran out. Instead I got possible explanation connecting my grief to the disaster.
At the end of bible study, I can only thank God for connection, thank God for community, thank god for vulnerability.