I have a brother who is the pastor of a church in Saskatchewan. Occasionally he will send me his sermons. Now, whether that is because he feels I don’t go to church often enough or whether he thinks I need more spiritual food than what I am getting or whether he just feels that the topics he picks will interest me, I am not sure. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. I have another brother who is not a pastor but probably should be. Then again, based on my mother’s opinion, I should probably be one too. However, that is a topic best left for another day. So in a nutshell I have one brother that is “Mennonite” (leave that one alone as well) and one who is Catholic. Then again I have a friend who is a Lutheran pretending to be Catholic. So what am I? Since our move I have been to a Catholic church and a Mennonite church. I suspect that would categorize me as being between churches.
Back to the real topic. The latest sermon I read talked about breaking the silence. Reminded me of the work I have been doing in the last few years. Ironically, the same day I read the sermon I did a noon hour interview on CBC radio noon. The topic was the ever worsening plight of our hog farmers. I emphasized the fact that people need to talk more. They need to open up. Find a support system. Find the resources that can help them. They need to break the silence.
“Breaking the silence” is a common theme in today’s world. When you google “breaking the silence” there are over 7 million results. 7 million. Quite astounding, actually. In my work with the Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services we often talk about “breaking the silence” as it concerns depression and suicide. In my radio interview I was again asked about my experience with depression. I have often related how I kept it quiet. Even today when I find myself slipping I am loathe to talk about my mental health issues. Why is that? Why is there such a stigma to talking about how we are feeling mentally or emotionally? I have no problem telling anybody who will listen when I have a back ache. I quite openly complain about being tired. My wife thinks I never stop complaining when I have a cold. These ailments are easy to talk about. However, talking about feeling down, feeling anxious, feeling helpless, is difficult.
“Silence is to say we can imagine nothing else than what is and we are quite prepared to accept the evil as the best and only thing that can be.” I took this quote directly from my brother’s sermon. That quote really hit home for me and my struggles with negative thoughts and feelings. When I allow the dark clouds to move in, when I do not act proactively against these feelings, I often times feel like I am conceding. I am giving in. I seem to accept the darkness as the only thing that can be.
The challenge for us is also to be aware of those around us. Many of us have friends and neighbors who are struggling due to a variety of reasons. These people often times feel alone. They have withdrawn. Perhaps they could use our help. “Maybe there is a silence that needs breaking but the people who need to be heard simply cannot find their voice. It’s been silenced for too long, the pain is too great, the hopelessness has gone on for too long? You can break the silence for them, and give voice to their cry, their pain, their groaning.” (Another quote from my brother. If nothing else he should at least know that I read the stuff he sends me.) I know from experience that talking to someone about my issues helps. I have also found that when I talk, others share with me. I just hope that I can help others like others have helped me. Make it a good one.