Sunday, July 24, 2011


I've been reading Eat Pray Love. This is an interesting travel journal by Elizabeth Gilbert and, nope, I haven't seen the movie. As a counselor, I think she may have one of the best descriptions of depression that I've read. Her writing is very honest or confessional. Her depression was brought on by her divorce. Some depressions seem to be brought on by such a situation or even an illness or disability. I've several clients whose depression seems to relate to working in a system that doesn't match their personality. One friend needs freedom to create, but his supervisor micro-manages. He is depressed by his work situation and is frustrated by the lack of other job possibilities. I've another friend with just the opposite situation. He needs a clear structure with expectations and weekly meetings with his supervisor. Unfortunately he is in a system where his supervisor only contacts him when something is wrong. Occasionally what looks like depression is actually spiritual desolation. 17 years ago I experienced what I thought was depression. I had been pastor of Lexington's Trinity Baptist Church for twenty-one years. The last year or so I seemed to have lost my energy. I didn't like going to church, preaching, visiting, meetings, etc. This is not good, especially if you are the Pastor. A psychiatrist friend said he didn't think it was depression, just looked and felt like it. He suggested that I check out spiritual desolation with my Spiritual Director. They both wondered if God might be moving me away from my comfort and secure level as Pastor. Eventually I resigned from the church with no place to go. No pulpit search committee contacted me. That was hard on the ego. Six months later (yes, I had no steady income for six months), Lexington's Calvary Baptist Church called and asked if I would help them begin a Pastoral Counseling Center. Didn't even know they were thinking about such a counseling ministry and, yet, they said that my name kept coming up in their planning. I've been at the Interfaith Counseling Center for sixteen years now, and it has been a wonderful match. It is a wonderful place to work. Work now energizes me. I'm eager to get there every day. When I was dealing with my depression and spiritual desolation, it was important that I had a sensitive Psychiatrist, Counselor and Spiritual Director who did more than just medicate the symptoms. I thank God regularly, not only for the help, but for the spiritual guidance I had on that portion of my life journey. It is always interesting to me how God guides our lives--never the same as someone else. Baron Fredrick von Hugel wrote that God doesn't use ditto marks. God always stays that mysterious presence in our lives.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


The following was given to me by a colleague, Dr. Jennifer Degler, at the Interfaith Counseling Center. I think it is worth hanging onto.

Patient Trust
By Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of progress
that it is made by passing through
some states of instability --
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually -- let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Yesterday's Lexington newspaper carried the headlines of a man from a prominent Kentucky political family who plead guilty to murdering his girl friend. He plead guilty in order to avoid the possibility of receiving the death penalty from a jury and judge. Life in prison seems like a just consequence for his taking the life of another person. However, I wish there were no death penalties. I'm pro-life, which includes pro-birth, but means much more than just pro-birth for me. My pro-life belief is part of my theology. I believe life, which includes the capability of creating and caring for life, is part of the 'image of God' within every living thing. According to my interpretation of the Genesis account, God created life out of nothingness. God then shared that life-creating capability with all of God's creation. Human beings, animals, plants, etc. have the capability of creating life. I believe life, and the capability of creating and caring for life, is a divine gift. I believe that one of the meanings of having been created in the 'image of God,' is the capability of creating and caring for life. To create and care for life is one of the ways in which we share in God's life, i.e., the 'image of God.' That's why I'm pro-life. I do admit, however, that I'm not all that consistent with my theology because I eat meat and I, also, believe people have the right to defend themselves when attacked--defend; not retaliate.