Hallelujah – Christ is Risen Indeed!
We are in the midst of Eastertide, the “Great 50 Days” stretching from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. This extended period of celebration has me reflecting on the tension between the beauty of a joyful season on the one hand, and the ups and downs of living with mental health challenges on the other.
On the one hand, I love that the tradition of the Church down through the ages is to have a period of reflection and repentance followed by an extended time of feasting and celebration, which stands in such contrast to our cultural tendency around holidays: weeks of build up, one blow-out day, and then an inevitable feeling of letdown afterwards as life-as-normal immediately resumes.
On the other hand, the idea of celebrating for fifty whole days can feel to me, and my messy brain, like an exhausting challenge, an unrealistic expectation in the face of life’s contingencies and the pain of the world.
Today, though, I’m giving thanks for the idea that seasons, in the church and in nature, are not dependent on my moods, my challenges, or my resilience. That the calendar keeps turning; that there will be seasons of mourning and laughter, seasons of reflection and celebration, in the life of the community of faith; that no matter what is happening within me, there is a larger community and a larger world that holds all of our experiences within a container of trust and faith. I am choosing to see this as a comfort rather than an expectation placed on me, as ground beneath my feet rather than a mountain to climb.
For fifty days, the church emphasizes new life in the face of old death. And in the midst of that, we pay attention to our whole lives, in all of their complexity, in all of their ups and downs, moods and moments, in the light of the Risen Christ.
Together, we proclaim the great “Hallelujah” – the Hallelujah that is bigger than any of us alone. For that, I am grateful.
David Finnegan-Hosey is the author of Christ on the Psych Ward and Grace is a Pre-Existing Condition: Faith, Systems, and Mental Healthcare. He serves as College Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries at Barton College. He holds an M.Div from Wesley Theological Seminary and a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. He is certified by Mental Health First Aid USA to provide initial help to people experiencing depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance use disorders. In 2011, David was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a series of psychiatric hospitalizations. He now speaks and writes about the intersections among mental illness, mental health, and faith. David lives in Wilson, NC with his wife Leigh, their daughter Laila, and their dog Penny Lane.