by Cathy Hyler
When Nancy Lee Head asked me to give a short talk on how faith has supported me in my recovery, I was delighted. I particularly like the idea of interfaith services because sharing what we have in common builds community, besides God is so much more than one religion or faith.
We are together - one tapestry with each individual thread weaving in its own richness and splendor.
In my life, faith has been instrumental in my recovery. For me to believe is to be given wings that take me to places that I have never seen, and to be given a vision that transcends my sight. The world unfolds before me with a sacredness and reverence for all God’s creatures.
My focus becomes the real treasures in life; family, friends and communion with God. Without faith I was color-blind and day after day after day after day the world unfolded in black and white. By faith, I was awakened from the mundane motions of existence and suddenly the world was all shiny and new, full of rich bold bright colors. It’s as if God splashed the planet with different shades of red, yellow, blue, orange and green. Yet even in my darkest of times, God’s light illuminated my darkness. My faith became my window in the cell of my illness.
Take a minute to recall all the people in your life that have warmed the cold places in your heart with their light. Are they not just the messengers from the great light - the Holy One? On this faith journey of ours God sends us many teachers, they are the candles that illuminate the way. In my life they are the faces of those who loved me when I could not love my self. They are the hands of those who held me when I only wanted to fight and clench my fist. They are the feet of those who carried me when I could no longer go on. They are the voices of those who comforted when the voices in my head only condemned. They are the eyes of those who saw a buried treasure in me when others only saw sickness.
In my life, God is welcomed and embraced as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a pure white dove that perches on the barren fields of our soul. It reminds me of what it is to really be free. Free to be and not to do. Freedom to live simply in a world that wants more - more -- more. Savoring each moment along the way. Moments drenched with a love that surpasses all knowledge and understanding.
A love that is based on truth and not some whimsical notion of a God in the clouds granting our wishes.
Each of us here today has a cross to carry and demons to reckon with. We cry out to God for healing and assistance. We plead for him to lighten our burdens.
We are so focused on a miracle, or an earth shattering experience, that we overlook the very help that God has made available to us. Prayers aren’t answered by a one-time bolt of lightening experience from the skies. No, healing and growth, is very similar to the life span of a flower. Once the seeds are planted, the roots stretch out into the dark soil and only after much time and nourishment, does it then burst through the ground to meet the sun. Just as you and I grow to one day meet the Holy Giver of Life; the Great Sun. My recovery was slow and took place because I accepted and opened to receive the gifts God has blessed my life with. Gifts like my family and friends, the medication I take for my schizophrenia and of course my psychiatrist who is my teacher and hope giver.
I believe God’s work is done through and with his people.
Perhaps your prayers are that our loved ones be healed from their mental illness. Your response from God is happening right here and now. It is in increased research; the new medications on the market that are real breakthroughs. It is through psychiatrists that hold the key to unlocking the world of those who suffer from delusions and hallucinations. It is happening through your love and devotion. YES YOU who in spite of enormous challenges remain steadfast in your support and loyalty.
Healing and recovery is the process of assimilating and internalizing all that is made available to us through God’s mercy and love.
We are all unique in our triumphs and defeats, but our lives are intertwined with common threads. Spirituality connects us not only to God, but to each other. We are all, after all headed in the same direction; we just take different roads to get there. Let’s remember what unites us and not what divides us.
We are not persons with mental illness. We are not families of the mentally ill. We are not man or woman. We are not Catholic or Jew. We are not rich or poor. We ARE children of God. A tapestry created and woven with love by the source of all love ……………GOD.