A three-part series on Mental Health
By Tom White
The Libyan town of Cyrene was a sanctuary for those Greeks and Jews who fled the oppressive governance of the Romans in Palestine. Never citing the reason for his presence in Jerusalem then, we are told that a certain Simon from that same Cyrene was conscripted to carry the patibulum (the cross-section of the crosses used at crucifixion) when Jesus faltered on his journey to The Place of the Skull (Golgatha).
We have no idea what went thru Simon’s mind when ordered to the task, but perhaps, we might assume that in no way did he wish to come under the scrutiny of the Romans. We might assume Jesus was able to let his mind move from his pain to his love for his mother. Later, Simon may have thought about the person he helped and Jesus may have thought about the man who helped him, and both minds may have been comforted in that reflection.
Our daily lives are so often taken for granted, as I am sure you will agree. The ever-quickening pace of life may prevent us from seeing beyond ourselves. We are frustrated with so many of the demands made on us daily that we become somewhat numb to any feelings at all. Often, we try not to let these feelings get in the way of what must be accomplished since they may present their own complications to our living. Everyone works so hard to make it through the day that we may not allow ourselves the “luxury” of noticing how our feelings. How we are feeling about self, spouse, partner, family, or friends becomes another task to accomplish rather than an integral part of our very lives. We do not let ourselves reflect. The crosses somehow are carried, but no comfort is felt from others.
Helping to carry a cross of another may challenge us on many levels, not the least of which is “I have my own problems.” Yet the failure to offer to help may actually result in our own discomfort, isolation, heartache, loneliness and that gut-wrenching emptiness that can seem to inhabit our very being.
We may mistake helping to carry a cross as taking on another’s burden alone, forever, to solve and fix. Yet, many times the burden is as simple as realizing our self-worth and that of another; letting another know they are loved, respected, treasured, honored or reverenced. The burden we help carry is to acknowledge a higher power, often God, and that each one of us plays a unique role on the journey of life; allowing a fellow human being to feel that they matter and are important simply for who they are. We can all be comforted in these reflections.
Mental health is sometimes assessed by our ability to live in productive, balanced and meaningful ways. It is established that these goals are not achieved alone but rather in community with others. Helping another “carry his or her cross” is integral to good mental health for everyone. When achieved, it is amazing!
Winning the lottery would certainly go a long way in relieving some, if not all of our worries, right? Just think of all the debt we could erase, not to mention the great gifts we could buy for anyone we wanted! We would be so happy, so free of worry, so at peace with the world … or would we? There was a fourth gift of the Magi at Christmas no one seems to remember. Unlike the usual three, this one is a gift to set our minds at ease.