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.
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.