My Brother's Keeper

May 14, 2012

Bipolar Disorder like other serious mental illnesses takes a toll on life. Besides being a thief of a person's potential, it comes into a family as a great hungry beast. It eats away resources of money, for sure, but also of the intangibles.... like compassion. The doctor calls it "compassion fatigue." When the well of compassion for a Bipolar brother is dipped into for years and years, with little re-filling that might include an occasional "thank you," the well runs dry. This is the place we find ourselves in. Tapped out. Dry. Hearing Jesus's call to be our brother's keeper is something that has driven us for a lot of years. We want to be faithful and care for the least among us, to be our brother's keeper, literally. And on good days we can. Sometimes driven by compassion and love and other times by guilt and shame. This is a sin I confess fairly frequently. The most recent episode includes at this point a four-week committal to a private mental hospital. Changes are coming for our brother that he is going to resist for sure. And just as I become despondent myself, God enters in. We went to the home where our brother has been living for about a year. We went to pack up a bag of clean clothes for him to have in the hospital. The grace afforded in that visit was a reminder to us that even in the midst of heartache and pain, God is there. In our brother's room, his dresser drawers had been labeled - underwear, socks, shirts. Our brother's keepers knew what trouble our brother has keeping his life in tact. And there on the bed in his room was a packed duffle bag. Clean clothes, folded tee shirts, socks, a few other things packed with care and tender compassion. Walter, our brother's house mate, Lois, the house Mother, and Mary, the group home owner were gathered and they were sharing stories about our brother. They knew a humanity about him that we sometimes forget. Tender compassion that is of God met us to remind us of what it means to be our brother's keeper. This is the role modeled for us by Walter, Lois, and Mary, the three wise ones around our brother's bed. He is loved with tender compassion, and prayed for by three I barely know. I am re-filled in this witness of love and the goodness of my brother's keepers. This is surely Resurrection. Amen

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The Prophet's Bus
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The Sarai Covenant
April 24, 2012