Just Care

Guest worship leader Rev. Dr. Patience Stoddard returned to our pulpit to talk about the importance understanding and advocating for the mentally ill in the current debate on health care.  She worked for 4 years as Director of Pastoral Care at NH Hospital and shared some of the spiritual lessons she learned from her patients.

She led a multi-part meditation that began with a poem by Caitlin Gildrien (see below). This was followed by readings including recent articles on VT mental health care read by Karl Lindholm and an excerpt from Our Rag-Bone Hearts by Elizabeth O’Connor read by Patience as a lead into her sermon.


The Search

by Caitlin Gildrien


Let’s call it Nemo. That bright flash

you loved on instinct, instantly. The glimpse

of it you follow out, out into a new deep

where suddenly you realize the water’s

gone cold, that you can’t touch bottom.


So you’re afraid maybe,

but you keep going.


You keep going

so long, it might be even

that you forget, sometimes,

just what it was brought you out here,

out into wherever you are now,

searching for oracles,

mumbling to yourself some mantra

you’ve held so long in your mouth

that it’s long been bled

of all its salt & meaning.


You forget, but still,

some deeper memory

drives you: Once, you were young

and didn’t know yet

that you were broken. Once

you lost yourself in a sea

of – what? what was it? that

made you happy.


You know it’s there, but, oh, the story

is wrong: it can’t be taken from you,

though it can, perhaps, be lost.

Can be lost, perhaps, when it leads

you out and you do not follow.


But no, that’s also wrong, it can’t be lost,

not for good, not really –

you will always know the shape of it,

your own destiny

swimming hard back toward you

with its one tattered fin,

bubbles floating all the way up

to the surface.