Connections

Did you, too?

Have you been there?

Do you, really?

Thank you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’M here.

This is work.

I want to get better.

I wish I could sleep.

I sleep too much.

I’m ready to commit to that.

I’m ready to quit.

I trust you.

Thank you for being there for me.

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A Light

A light twinkles

In the distance;

It is my hope,

Fragile, yet strong.

Will a big gust of wind

Blow out my candle?

I am protected

By many walls:

Meds, doctors,

Counselors, family,

Friends and helpers.

That gust of wind

Can blow if it must,

But my light will not

Be extinguished.

I will use

The tools I’ve been given.

I will continue the struggle,

And I will win.

Strong

Experience.

A light bulb turns on.

Words flow like breathing.

Comfortable.

Fellow warriors

Keeping each other company.

Along for the ride,

Together.

Be there for you,

Whenever you need someone.

Any time, any place.

Trust me.

I’ll hold out a light

So you can see your way.

Brothers and sisters

Of mental illness.

Strong.

Up in Space, Down to Earth

Reaching up to the top

The staircase winds between the stars,

Up in the dark sky.

The planets revolve around

Information.

Our efforts cling,

With space station chatter.

We dream in cycles.

Rainbows spill across the horizon.

The trees drip with rain drops,

Too heavy, falling

From fragile leaves.

Howls in the distance

Proclaim Mother Nature

As the ruler of us all.

Splashing in the river,

Fish jump and swim,

Frogs ribbit through dusk.

Birds hide in their nests,

Comfy for a night’s rest.

All is eventually quiet.

Nature has gone to sleep.

Stars Smiling

Speed collects beads

Of sweat on the seatbelt

Wrapped around my body.

Likening your smile

To a Star streak across the sky

On a mellow night.

The sun is bright this morning

As it rises above the hills.

See the birds fly

From the trees so frantically.

I bet one of them saw me

When I told you I loved you

In the tree, smiling, ear to ear.

Renewed

Thunder crashes,
Lightning flashes,
Mother Nature
Says hello.

In my quiet home,
I sit absolutely still,
And watch
And listen to the rain.

Funny how,
Sometimes,
Life can be so peaceful,
And yet, so full of tension.

We fight against
The coming tide
Of life as usual, that is,
Pain and struggle

To overcome
The challenges
That come before us
On a daily basis,

All the time
We seek to draw
Strength
From deep inside,

From an endless
Flowing river
Of peace
And tranquility.

And yet,
Sometimes,
That river of power
Becomes blocked

By worries,
By doubts,
By discouragement.
It is in those times

Of difficulty,
If we are wise,
We stop and watch,
And listen

To the thunder
Of holiness,
The lightning
Of sacrifice,

And the merciful
Raindrops
Of ever flowing,
Beautiful Grace.

When we do this,
Our hearts,
Our minds,
And our bodies

Become renewed
With a wonderful
Power of light
And blessing.

We can look
Our pain and struggle
In the face again,
And smile.

Renewed

Thunder crashes,
Lightning flashes,
Mother Nature
Says hello.

In my quiet home,
I sit absolutely still,
And watch
And listen to the rain.

Funny how,
Sometimes,
Life can be so peaceful,
And yet, so full of tension.

We fight against
The coming tide
Of life as usual, that is,
Pain and struggle

To overcome
The challenges
That come before us
On a daily basis,

All the time
We seek to draw
Strength
From deep inside,

From an endless
Flowing river
Of peace
And tranquility.

And yet,
Sometimes,
That river of power
Becomes blocked

By worries,
By doubts,
By discouragement.
It is in those times

Of difficulty,
If we are wise,
We stop and watch,
And listen

To the thunder
Of holiness,
The lightning
Of sacrifice,

And the merciful
Raindrops
Of ever flowing,
Beautiful Grace.

When we do this,
Our hearts,
Our minds,
And our bodies

Become renewed
With a wonderful
Power of light
And blessing.

We can look
Our pain and struggle
In the face again,
And smile.

Sometimes I Freak, Part III

Sometimes I freak when I go to church. When you step into a church somehow you feel like you should be on your best behavior. That’s not really a Godly feeling or sentiment, since I believe that God accepts us exactly as we are, wherever we are, but that is how I was raised. In fact, growing up, my mother was ruthless in spurring me and my brother to get ready and stop goofing around on Sunday morning. What was important was looking good by being on time, behaving well, answering questions intelligently and in a spiritual way—basically, putting on a front. Lord knows my family was falling apart at the seams in every way, with my grandmother passing away, my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, and my mother’s undiagnosed mental illness. All was not well in the Bowman household. And those feelings come back to me today as I step through the doors of a church, any church, even one as positive, inclusive and accepting as mine. I wonder what deviant thoughts people suspect me of (well, actually, I am quite the skeptic), what deviant acts I am guilty of that separate me from other Christians and from God, what rebellion I am in that alienates me from the same. Going to church is something I want to do, but at the same time, I do struggle with these things every time, and it compromises my experience on the whole.

Sometimes I freak when I try to pray. Yes, God and I are not on the best of terms—haven’t been for a long time. In fact, except for when I pray with others—my wife at the dinner table and the occasional attempt at a weekly prayer partnership, my male prayer partner, something I initiated this year as an attempt to get closer to God because of my lack of an intimate relationship, and the occasional prayer with my Sunday School class and with the congregation in the sanctuary—I am not on speaking terms with God. I know after that enumeration of instances it doesn’t sound bad, but I guess I am a perfectionist, and I realize how far I am from any kind of daily routine which would bring me into any kind of genuine intimacy with God. Being alone with God is a frightening experience for me. Feelings of emotional and physical abuse from childhood along with visions of an angry Yahweh of the Old Testament conjure a being to be faced that is not the loving, caring Jesus that spoke to the disciples in the upper room that fateful night and told them that when we see him we have seen the Father, because he and the Father are one. When it’s just me and God (and I have to admit it is always the vengeful Father that I envision in my mind, not the gentle Jesus), I just freeze up. Gone are the soothing thoughts of “come to me ye who are weary, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Instead it is a booming God that stares down at me and demands to know every sin I have committed and has come to punish me for them in some crazy sadistic way that makes me cringe and from which I yearn to escape. Not a great relationship, obviously.

Sometimes I freak when I open the Bible. I’ll admit, it’s intimidating. Yes, there is a lot of wisdom there. Yes, I believe it is divinely inspired. Yes, I believe there is potential for healing, instruction, direction, inspiration, grace, forgiveness—all that. But you know what else there is? God. He is there, waiting, behind those words. For what? I don’t know. But the potential scares me. I have read the entire Bible many times over, and if there is one thing I know for sure, there is power behind those words. And the thought of being overpowered, perhaps in a scary way, is what keeps me from those words. I have been overpowered, many times, in absolute terror, and I have run from figures of authority, figures who were supposed to be trustworthy caretakers, symbols of love and support, that have turned on me like a viper lunging for its prey. Is God like that? My intellect tells me no, but my heart, and my body, are not so sure. After all, if humans, blood, family, can be tyrannical, how much more can God? And there is something else—God is all powerful. Do I want to surrender myself to an all powerful tyrant? Do I want his thoughts to be my thoughts? No, not by a long shot.