View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Up Around the Bend - Battling the Blues

I didn't write yesterday. My mind was preoccupied with issues at work, and a phone call.

A friend's parent attempted suicide. The parent failed, but has threatened to do it again. And the hospital, which is going to release the parent, when told what the parent said, basically says they can't do anything about that.

The friend is devastated. Plus, the suicide attempt uncovered all sorts of other issues involving the parent that are forcing the friend to change plans, a career decision, and more.

I offered what comfort I could. I said I was there if the friend needed help.

I don't even know the parent, but I feel the effects of the attempt. I feel sad, helpless.

The ripple effects of suicide. Not only does it affect the person who, for whatever reason, feels driven to it, but also relatives, loved ones, friends, and the friends and loved ones of everyone directly affected.

I prayed for the friend and the friend's parent. I will continue to do so.

I'm not judging the parent. I know some of the difficult circumstances that led to this, but I can't get into the parent's mind or soul to fully understand what pushed that parent over the edge.

I do know that I am subject to moods myself. I have all my life. I've learned not to make rash or life-changing decisions during emotional downturns - though, to be honest, I have fallen at times. I know that when those moods hit, I need to pray and trust in God.

I also turn to music. There are certain songs and pieces that help.

During one particularly dark period - a period during which I did make some very bad choices - there was one song that helped me from doing even worse things.

"Up Around the Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The lyrics are hopeful, with a message that there's something better ahead.

There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you're goin',
Leave the sinkin' ship behind.

I didn't take this as a call to leave as in suicide myself, but rather, as a reminder that there is a place I can get to where the darkness is left behind - in my mind, heaven.

Come on the risin' wind,
We're goin' up around the bend.


Bring a song and a smile for the banjo,
Better get while the gettin's good,
Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neons turn to wood.



You can ponder perpetual motion,
Fix your mind on a crystal day,
Always time for a good conversation,
There's an ear for what you say.

Now that's a vision of heaven. Where you can ponder perpetual motion - things make sense - and you can fix your mind on the beauty of a crystal day. You can have genuine conversations, and people will really listen.



Catch a ride to the end of the highway
And we'll meet by the big red tree,
There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Come along, come along with me.



And there's an invitation to others. Come along. It's for all of us. A gift given through Jesus dying on that tree, a tree where we can all meet.

Yeah, I know, I'm reading a lot into the lyrics of a rock and roll song. But they resonated with me.

What also resonated with me was that opening guitar riff. I still hear in in my mind. I used to play that part of the song over and over again. That riff alone was sometimes enough to chase the blues away.

I still think of that song sometimes when I'm down. I thought of it yesterday after my friend called.

(And yeah, I used to be that hairy too!)


Blogger GrandmaK said...

Suicide has touched this family. It causes fear, anger, frustration tears and regrets. No amount of love, counseling, or understanding can stop them if the person is intent on doing the act. For many, they say it is a cry for help or a way to manipulate another. For those who succeed it's what they really intended to do. Know one can really know their pain. One can only try to help and offer sincere prayers for their healing.

Prayers of all in this sad time. God Bless you with strength for both you and your friend. Cathy

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

I haven't heard Creedance Clearwater Revival in a long time, will have to look up that song.

You're right of course, about trust in God even during the dark times and that it can be difficult.

Suicidal feeling is mostly about feeling hopeless. There are a lot of other issues, but mostly it's feeling hopeless, helpless and powerless. The key to getting past the suicidal feeling is to regain hope.

Meditating on the Crucifixion can help a person feel less alone because at least one other person has felt that much pain. The Resurrection, though, may be a bit distant for someone feeling suicidal.

Regaining hope means being able to make a difference, means the person feeling able to do something to make things different. That's the immediate work for someone feeling suicidal. The Serenity Prayer of the 12-step programs is very helpful:

God, grant me the courag to change the things I can,
the serenity to accept the things I can't,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I'll include your friend's family in prayer.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

My goodness, I do love Credence.

Regarding your remark about the song keeping you from doing something worse, that's been my experience of grace -- not so much compelling me to do purely good things, but keeping me from the depths of depravity when I'm falling.

I'm sorry to learn of your friend's situation.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Great song!

Please know that I will be praying for your friend and the parent. I hope that they can all be helped.

5:56 PM  

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