As we inch our way out of Lockdown accompanied by our new lexicon – “Covid Secure”, “Self-Isolating”, “Risk Assessment” and “Super Spreader” to name but a few, The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, should be applauded for encouraging people to talk about their mental health. It is not something about which we should “suffer in silence.”
As the Bishop identified in a recent interview many people had also faced “fearful burdens” on top of dealing with the virus: the shielding elderly, those whose loneliness had been exacerbated, those facing financial hardship and uncertainty, and those trapped with abusers.
“But the general climate of fear that has been so successfully inculcated in us leaves us with a conundrum,” she said. “How do we encourage one another wisely to emerge from lockdown? How do we begin to navigate this brave new world of face masks and social distancing?”
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he says:
“We have this treasure,” [the treasure being the glory of God] “in jars of clay [the jars being us] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
There were two types of jar in the first century. One was dark and thick used for display. The other used the thinnest material possible so that it would crack in the kiln. The cracks enabled light to diffuse out from within when a lamp was placed inside. The jar was purposely created to be vulnerable, so that the light would shine through it. This says Paul is God’s design. Our fragility, vulnerability and brokenness is by design, so that the light of the glory of Christ might shine brightly as we persevere in living for Jesus through it.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold
As Leonard Cohen tells us in his song Anthem “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”
The challenge for all of us is to continue to have a culture in which everyone feels safe to share their struggles and feel able to speak openly to talk to each other, to make it integral to our ministry to one another, whatever context we find ourselves in, for mental health to be a subject for prayer in public as well as inprivate.
Loving God, we pray for those who are confronted by the sadness, ambiguity and confusion of mental health issues and for those upon whom they depend for attention and compassionate care.
Look with mercy on all whose afflictions bring them distress, confusion or isolation.
Provide for them homes of dignity and peace;
give to them understanding helpers and the willingness to accept help.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.