Volume 26, Number 10
Two things not up for debate
This editorial is not about abortion. Or maybe it is.
I write this on the day after Mother's Day, at a time when conversations are intense about the rightness or wrongness of ending a woman’s pregnancy. There is a lot to be said about the medical, legal and religious aspects of abortion, but not by me right now.
Finding value in challenged lives
The quietness and rest that people with mental-health problems need is something we all need. For us to live according to the pace and drive of contemporary western culture is for us to burn through our neural circuitry in ways that lead to disruptive and disorderly crises. (Photo by Ruth Bergen Braun)
What is a human life worth? What makes my own life worthwhile? Is my time valuable only when my efforts add up to some measurable achievement I can document on my résumé or in my exercise log or my family’s “brag book”? And if that’s the case, what value is there to a less productive life?
Readers write: May 16, 2022 issue
The church and mental illness
I have lived with depression for most of my adult life.
When I began my role as a minister, I realized that, while I could mostly hold my depression at bay while I carried out my daily responsibilities, it was usually in the tiredness of my time at home that my depression would find its expression. Typically, that would play out as irritability towards the one closest to me.
‘The gift of giving’
Aziza* shops for meat using monthly food vouchers given to her by MCC’s partner, Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD). The vouchers supplement her husband’s income, which is primarily spent on treating their six-month-old son’s lung disease. She uses the food to provide good nutrition to her five children under eight years of age. (*Aziza’s full name is not used for her security.) (Photo courtesy of PARD-2022)
Aziza, left, receives a monthly food voucher from a staff member working for Popular Aid for Relief and Development, an MCC partner. (Photo courtesy of PARD-2022)
Basam* receives his monthly food voucher from a staff member working for Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD), an MCC partner in January 2022. The additional funds keep food in the fridge to feed him, his wife and their three children. (*A pseudonym is used for security reasons.) (Photo courtesy of PARD-2022)
Aziza, a 29-year-old mother living in Beirut, Lebanon, spends almost all of her husband’s income on hospital visits, oxygen and medication to treat her six-month-old son’s lung disease. (Her full name is not used for her security.)
Praising God together across barriers
YAMENers experience Indonesia. Clockwise from bottom left: Assembly 2022 staffer Lorenzo Fellycyando, Rut Arsari, YAMENer Ananda Mohan Murmu, YAMENer Sunil Kad Kadmaset, YAMENer Natacha Kyendrebeogo, YAMENer Loyce Twongirwe, and Assembly 2022 staffer Lydia Suyanti. (Photo by Lorenzo Fellycyando)
The multinational assembly staff team in Indonesia. Pictured from left to right, back row: Lorenzo Fellycyando, Indonesia; Sunil Kadmaset, India; Lydia Suyanti, Indonesia; and Ebenezer Mondez, Philippines; middle row: Simon Setiawan, Indonesia; Rut Arsari, Indonesia; Loyce Twongirwe, Uganda; Liesa Unger, Germany; and Ananda Mohan Murmu, India; and front row: Agus Setianto, Indonesia; Preshit Rao, India; Tigist Gelagle, Ethiopia; Sarah Yetty, Indonesia; and Natacha Kyendrebeogo, Burkina Faso. (Photo by Liesa Unger)
“I can see one family with a lot of members, worshipping the same Father,” says Natacha Kyendrebeogo of Burkina Faso.
She is one of four young people serving through the Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN) on the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Assembly 2022 team in Indonesia.
Valaqua gets a spring makeover
Camp Valaqua welcomed approximately 30 enthusiastic volunteers at its spring work day on April 30. Volunteers and staff focused on cleaning up brush and splitting wood.
“Our woodshed went from a few sad sticks to full in just a day!” says Jon Olfert, Valaqua’s camp director.
Volunteers also repaired the siding on one of the buildings and cleaned the eavestroughs.
Meeting pain with compassion
“I can talk about mental health and, specifically, suicide risk, because nearly every day I ask someone if they have thoughts of wishing to die.” Ruth Bergen Braun is a recently retired Canadian certified counsellor who has first-hand experience with clients who think of suicide or have lost someone to suicide.
‘You don’t need words to do it’
Sometimes people go through experiences that are too difficult to talk about or too confusing to articulate. Art therapy helps many people process and heal when at first the words are just too hard to find.
Moral distress in pandemic times
New mental-health website consolidates resources
Communitas Supportive Care Society has launched a new peer-support website, a comprehensive site that puts mental-health resources as close as the click of a mouse.
Toews adaptation a poignant, honest look at grief
Toward the end of All My Puny Sorrows, Lottie (Mare Winningham) sits in her Toronto apartment comforting her sobbing daughter, Yoli (Alison Pill), noting, “The pain of letting go of grief is just as painful—even more painful—than the grief itself.”
Lonely without insects
Once upon a time I hitchhiked to a park visitors centre nestled beneath Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. Next to other quotes by famous American wilderness gurus were the words of a far-less recognized teacher of ecological wisdom.
Mental health, trauma and the non-profit sector
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
The words came from a place of kindness and empathy, from someone who knew the feeling. It hit me to my core, because I was empty.
An honest-to-God typo
Most of the time I can’t stand typos. They bug me. If I’m completely honest, I’m internally judgmental of people who don’t catch their typos, myself included. I love words, I love Wordle, I have a knack for spelling and, when I catch something spelled wrongly, I have a hard time looking past it and focusing on the intended meaning of the misspelled word in its context.
My cousin couldn’t manage the pain
Note: This reflection deals with the subject of suicide.
On Nov. 27, a Saturday, I received a long text message from my cousin Richard (I’m using only his middle name here, for privacy), also sent to other extended family members. “I hope none of you ever have to go to a pain-management clinic,” he began. “They are a joke and out for money.”
Grace, guilt and CO2
There is more grace in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
That does not let anyone off the hook; it promises that we can face the grim fate of the Earth and the compromises of our lives without being utterly overwhelmed. (And it means I can break bread with sisters and brothers who do not believe there is a hook that anyone needs to be let off of.)