In recognition of Mental Health Sunday in the United Church of Christ, I am posting the following poem from Barefoot Theology, pg. 164-165. I wrote this poem based on many real conversations I’ve had over my years as a clinical chaplain in a psychiatric hospital. My hope is that one day, mental illness will be seen for what it is – a medical condition – and that people who live with mental illness will no longer be stigmatized. The Church in all her varied forms must lead the way to inclusion and radical welcome for all God’s people.
So many tearstained faces fill my days
crying out because they will never be good enough
for God to love them
They are bound up with shame forced on their
innocence and cannot see their way to freedom
I ask what they have done that is so sinful
These women, men, and children
only recount a list of evils done to them
held close by the pain they’ve inflicted
on their own bodies trying to be rid
of a hurt deeper than they can speak
Why do you think that God cannot love you
if you have committed no horrific sin?
All of them confess that they are worthless
yet they believe in Jesus,
that Jesus died to save the world
Yes! God so loved the world
without excluding you!
Would you give your life
for something without value?
They all agree that dying for something worthless
would be rather stupid and pointless
God so loved the world . . .
are you part of the world that God so loved?
Then you are not worthless
Jesus died for you as well as the rest of creation
Are you sure?
Are you willing to tell God that a mistake has been made,
that you are outside the bounds of God’s love for the whole world?
Well, when you put it that way
maybe I am wrong
maybe God loves me
maybe there is hope
maybe I am more than this collection of pain
Yes! We are, and always have been!
RCL – Year A – Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 18, 2014
1 Peter 2:2-10