Open Windows

How to keep our hearts and our lives open to the people and experiences that God has put around us.

It was a three-car accident, with three distraught drivers walking between their disabled vehicles and the flashing blue lights of police cruisers drawing attention to the scene. Traffic was slow, with hundreds of bypassing drivers craning their necks to see what had happened. Though I have long disparaged such “looky loos”, I found myself drawn into the action. I gazed for a second too long, turned forward, found a car stopped just a few feet ahead, hit the brakes, and swerved into the shoulder to avoid a crash. I barely made it; with no harm except to my pride.

After thanking God for saving me from this close call, I considered why it happened. The morning temperatures were in the high forties but road conditions were good and visibility clear. On leaving home I had opened my driver’s window, and had noticed that of the thousands of cars on the road, only two had their windows even partly open. It was easy to see why – it was cold, and the wind chill made it worse. Still, opening the window made me much more aware of my surroundings. Instead of just seeing the activities on the road, I could hear them, and to some degree even feel them. I had gotten cold and closed the window just before my near crash. The traffic opened up, but several minutes and several miles later I saw another emergency vehicle about ¼ mile behind me. He moved closer and I pulled over, seeing rather than hearing him from a distance. Others didn’t pull over at all.

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Mental Health – Context of Care and Recovery

Mental health is more than medications, therapies, counseling, patients, and doctors. It is about a milieu of family, friends, finances, faith, and a thousand other factors. Let’s look at them. 

Years ago a friend of mine was abandoned by her husband. She and her sons have remained in the church but now the boys are out of the house and she is alone. A couple of months ago I saw her in the hall and greeted her with a big hug. Her eyes lit up – it had been a long time since she had been touched. The Beatle’s Eleanor Rigby is not just a song, but a statement of an exploding problem throughout the world – people are lonely. Doug Saunders captured this problem in his book Arrival City in which he remarked on “the silent isolation of the middle class.” He wrote of new immigrants “no longer would they hear every word and movement around them; no longer was the air constantly vibrating with the parry and banter of the entire community.”[1] The only regular noise many people hear at home are the sounds of the television and the computer.

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