Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election day. And reflections on crazy


Election Day. Long lines at the polls. Wondering what that might mean. 

Teddy and Martin  are scratching their heads over a puzzling interaction. Martin almost literally dumbfounded. I’m reading over and over again an e-mail that has come out of nowhere. Interpretations of looks. Moral accusations. It’s disturbing.  Pondering craziness. On the one hand, it’s always scary when you realize the other person's  not just using language tactically but actually believes what they are saying is true. Is real. And also that sometimes bipolar people can sense something, can find that weak place in you and go for it.  And I’m thinking how in small congregations the problem is so much more pronounced. Larger congregations can buffer, absorb. Smaller ones can be turned into stages for drama for apocalyptic narratives played out. Lived out. And preponderance of madness can actually scare away more normal people needed to create balance.  There must be openness and acceptance but management is another issue.

My first call was at a large downtown church with over 5000 members.  We had a resident pastoral counselor on staff.  He was good at helping me find words that could respond to the irrational in objective ways. You need to be aware that I do not share your perception......For him it was so natural. What I hate the most are the charges that go to my own deepest fears, misgivings, self doubts, regrets.... It bothers me to still be bothered hours later.  When someone comes to me with a problem that  is beyond my capacity, I can easily draw the line and refer them on. But when they don’t even realize they have a problem, I have no idea what to do....I’m wondering if PHEWA’s Serious Mental Illness Network is anywhere near still active. It’s occupying my thoughts today.

A steady stream of people keep coming in, wanting to vote. They will not  believe me when I say this isn’t the place. I finally read a letter and realize that they’re looking for  SPSA  two blocks down the 86th Street. A woman comes in wanting to drop off clothes she has collected. When I begin to tell her no, she almost cries, Please I’ve been three places already. So I accept them. 

I look up, notice Teddy is finishing a tour with a young couple. Steven and Tara. She’s from the neighborhood, he’s from Northern Ireland. A Protestant at that. So I give them the standard architectural/social history tour of the church. And then we talk about the bars in the neighborhood, our preferences for the Gate, and maybe the Dead Poet.  Teddy says So if you see an old man with long white hair and a cowboy hat, tell him he can’t sing and his songs are no good. 

I’ve got to make a condolence call. Then maybe my own visit to RL. Then watch the returns on an agonizingly close race. 

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