Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Letter from the editor
When it comes to publishing new content in The Christian Citizen, our writers are generally working one month out from publication. But occasionally, we’re able to work in more time-sensitive stories. This week’s story by Tim Shriver, “Love, the heart of all things,” is one such piece. I commend it to your reading.
Shriver reflects on the life of Michael Gerson whose memorial service was last week at the National Cathedral, the church Gerson referred to as “the place I feel most secure in the world.”
Among his many accomplishments, Gerson was a nationally syndicated columnist who appeared twice weekly in The Washington Post from 2007 until his death on Nov. 17, 2022. He was a regular on PBS Newshour, Face the Nation, and other programs. He served as deputy assistant and director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush.
Gerson had a rare talent with words and was a compassionate soul. He lived with depression and was hospitalized for his condition shortly before preaching a sermon at the National Cathedral in 2019. I still point people to his sermon which is embedded in an article I wrote at the time that we republished in 2020. For those who live with depression, there is something validating in the way Gerson plumbed the depths of his experience. For those who don’t, Gerson offered a window into the condition.
Ultimately, there are limits to what we can know and understand of the experience of others. “Bloody and bowed by the outrages of life, most human beings still stagger on down the road, unscathed by real depression,” William Styron wrote in Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. “To discover why some people plunge into the downward spiral of depression, one must search beyond the manifest crisis—and then still fail to come up with anything beyond wise conjecture.”
I encourage you to read “Love, the heart of all things,” and the other stories we published this week. Share them friends, family, and followers who might take an interest.
All of us are “bloody and bowed by the outrages of life.” Some of us live with depression. Each would benefit from a greater measure of grace and understanding from the other.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.
– “How do you serve a friend in despair?” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes, “If I’m ever in a similar situation again, I’ll know that you don’t have to try to coax somebody out of depression. It’s enough to show that you are trying to understand what this troubled soul is enduring. It’s enough to create an atmosphere in which the sufferer can share her experience. It’s enough to offer him or her the comfort of being seen.”
– Pathways to Promise offers resources to churches and other faith communities interested in starting or expanding a mental health ministry. Their Companionship program is a good place to begin. Mental Health Ministries, a program of Pathways, is an interfaith web-based ministry to provide educational resources to help erase the stigma of mental illness in faith communities.
– The American Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership offers a mental health guide for faith leaders and a companion quick reference guide.