Sunday, November 30, 2008

Am I, Too, Not a Beggar?

I needed to visit a store yesterday to pick up something necessary for a creative project, so in the hour before the stores opened, my husband and I took our early-morning Saturday walk in the shopping district of downtown Olympia.

There, on the Fourth Avenue sidewalk, we were approached by a tall, bony woman with a story to tell:
She had been living at the Salvation Army.
Some of the other women didn't like her so she had been forced to leave.
She didn't know what she was going to do as she lacked even the necessary bus fare to get to her job.

Could we give her just a dollar or something to help her out?

"And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish." Mosiah 4:16

In spite of her apparent heart-felt sincerity and anxiety, I was about 95 percent certain that she was lying to us. She seemed to be a gifted actress, and I was awed by her skills. She appeared to be so genuine, but the bus-fare story is awfully familiar to me. I have seen too often how those who are desperate will manipulate caring people. And, sure enough, even after she had plenty of bus fare in her pockets, she continued to approach strangers on the streets.

"Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--" Mosiah 4:17

All the same, I was not troubled or turned away by her lies. I simply desired to help her, and not because there was in my mind a 5 percent chance that she was telling the truth. I simply desired to help her and it did not matter to me why she begged, or what she was going to do with the money.

"But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God." Mosiah 4:18

Before I could follow my own impulse to give, my husband reached into his wallet and handed her a five-dollar bill. She thanked us profusely, even giving each of us a hug. I wondered if the hugs were attempts to pick our pockets, but sharing them was worth the danger. Her apparent gratitude was profuse. I was happy to hug her. I was warmed by that connection.

My husband and I had merely sacrificed the difference between eating a fast-food meal out or eating from one of our many choices back at our lovely home.

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" Mosiah 4:19

We continued on our way. I almost broke into tears as we walked the next couple of blocks.


Because that woman could be me.

"And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another." Mosiah 4: 21

There I was, walking down the sidewalk in my new wool coat, arm in arm with the dear man who loves me and takes care of me.

"And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they." Jacob 2:13

My illness makes following a series of steps impossible. What if I had to follow seventeen steps to get food or shelter or warmth? The people on the street are often criticized for not taking advantage of the community resources available to them. Would I be able to access such resources with my current lack of mental health? I cannot imagine riding a bus to get to where I needed to go. I cannot imagine being clear enough in my mind to fill out one government form, let alone a stack of them. I cannot imagine sleeping in a strange room full of strange people. It is so far beyond my scope of possibilities that I cannot even imagine it.

"And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?

"Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. . . . " Jacob 2: 20-21

This I can imagine--
I can imagine that I could muster up the ability to accomplish three simple steps:
(1) beg
(2) eat
(3) medicate.

"Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you." Jacob 2:17

As I have striven to think of my brethren like unto myself, the plight of the mentally ill has become very familiar. Perhaps what Jacob was saying when he counseled us to "be familiar with all," was that we need to see through the mind of another. I am finding that as life is forcing me to do so, I am experiencing a growing desire that all may be rich like unto me. In light of all that I know from firsthand experience, being free with my substance seems like a very little thing.

Read more on a similar topic at Green Mormon Architect's post about beggars at the temple.

Originally uploaded by _aeb

A thank you to _aeb for sharing this illustration on

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Eerie Yellow in the Trees

trees 1
Originally uploaded by Tim Caynes

The migraines are back.

A thank you to Tim Caynes for sharing this photo on flickr.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


PH eddies in a litmus solution
Originally uploaded by gever tulley

"Why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what his future would be . . . he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge; for He knows all things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do. But he tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves."

(George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, April 1899, 66).

Thank you to gever tulley for sharing this photograph, "PH eddies in a litmus solution," on flickr.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


75 Bands Cleverly Represented In This Picture
Originally uploaded by ClintJCL

I have been asked how it is that I recognize that I am transitioning into a manic state. For me, it is pretty simple. I notice that I am having some trouble sleeping. I notice that I would like to spend money on frivolous things, every day, and sneakily. Sometimes I talk more and faster. I think that I eat more, too, especially sweets.

These things have been trying to overtake me again.

I'm glad that I have learned how to catch mania before it explodes on me. I'm glad that this time I have the option of cutting back on my meds. I hope that it helps. I do not like to be manic--even the hypo version.

Thank you to ClintJCL for sharing this picture on flickr.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Less Brick

from whence the brick came
Originally uploaded by Leonard John Matthews

I had to back off my anti-depressant because I was seeing signs of mania coming on. I'm back to the original dosage.


Thank you to Leonard John Matthews for sharing this picture on flickr.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Accomodations in Church

Some handicaps are obvious to the casual observer. For mental illness, however, the needs of the afflicted one may not be apparent. Here is the way one fellow-sufferer, whose letter is shared here with permission, helped others to understand her unique challenges regarding her church calling.

"I've been thinking a lot about my calling in primary. I guess I feel obligated to tell you (and the presidency via this email that I am sending to you), that I have great doubts about my ability to be a stable teacher for the kids in my class. I LOVE the kids. They are great, but I feel emotionally overwhelmed each Sunday, and it is starting to effect my performance as a teacher in primary, as well as my feelings of well being and peace in other areas of my life.

"I have bi-polar disorder, as well as ADD. I take medication daily for each of the disorders. One of the saving graces in my life is that I can take care of my son, and that my Sundays are uplifting and relaxing. It helps my emotions and spirit prepare for the following weeks trials, which will inevitably come as I try to balance my bi-polar and ADD characteristics while taking care of my son and the housework.

"A majority of the symptoms I feel from my disorders are a high level of anxiety and having a low stress tolerance. There are some things I do with ease, but there are some things that cause me a great deal of stress and anxiety that is beyond my control and ability to stop. I take medication to keep my anxiety under control but it doesn't prevent all anxiety and stress from occurring, otherwise I'd be a vegetable.

"Primary causes a lot of stress, and my auto reaction to that stress is to emotionally shut down. Usually, that means I just stay in my apartment where I can be at peace and control my environment. As much as I love the kids in primary, primary itself is a major stress point for me. I may look cool on the outside, but on the inside I am high in anxiety and feeling depressed.

"I know that each person has unique challenges and trials, and I really hate to ever back down from a challenge, especially when that challenge involves a church calling, but for the sake of the children, I feel you should know that I do not think I will have the fortitude or the mental capacity to deal with my class every Sunday. It may be much more helpful to rotate with a teacher each Sunday so I do not have to be in class and primary every week. I fear if we do not take some sort of action, then the children will suffer because of my inability to be reliable and consistent.

"I want to do what the Lord has asked me to do, and I also feel the desire to serve. Coming to terms with the fact that I cannot handle everything given to me is difficult for me to admit. I don't like admitting I have a disability, or that I have certain limitations because I am a perfectionist, but I am trying to be realistic so that you know where I am coming from and the kids in my class can benefit fully from the primary program."

Perhaps this example will help you with your particular challenges. I know that it has helped me. Thank you, E, for sharing this.

Thank you to g.originals for sharing the above photograph in Creative Commons on flickr.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Climbing or Descending?

Am I climbing up, or am I descending?
One day it looks like one, another day like the other.

Thank you to confusedvision for sharing this photo in Creative Commons at flickr.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beauty in the Deep

"For thou hadst cast me into the deep,
in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about:
all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul:
the depth closed me round about,
the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;
the earth with her bars was about me for ever:
yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God."

Jonah 2: 3-6

Galapagos from Darek Sepiolo on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A: An organized system of learned behavior that is a total way of life of a people.
Originally uploaded by zachstern

I am beginning to feel better, and I am organizing everything in sight.

Thank you to zachstern for sharing this picture on flickr.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fire and Water

Fire and Water
Originally uploaded by peasap

I awoke in a deluge of painful memories and tears.
I am trying to remember that what burns also purifies.

The photographer commented regarding this picture:
"It's just a small flame, with Flood added to make the reflection.
The shape makes me think of an angel."

Thank you, Father,
For pushing me down,
And scorching the dross.

Healing Hurts.

Thank you peasap for sharing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grogley Halt

Grogley Halt
Originally uploaded by Rich+

I upped my anti-depressant.

Now I am in a grogley halt.

Kind of stuck. More depressed. Not doing much.


At lease I am parked in a beautiful landscape.

This, too, shall pass.

I hope.

Thank you to Rich+ for sharing this photograph on flickr.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Burdens and Blessings

Heavy burden
Originally uploaded by villoks

"But the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Ensign, October 2006, 15

Thank you to villoks for sharing this photograph on flickr.