Honoring Earth Day


 

Every day is Earth Day, because this is my home, and I breathe the air, drink the water, feed my body, and co-exist with all of the other beings and lives on this planet. I live here and I am a steward of this place, the only place I have in the universe.
This week, I planted seeds, pruned, weeded, mowed, watered, fertilized, and tended, in both the biological sense and the social sense. We are in this life together and should care for ourselves, each other and our home.
Being in places of great beauty and abundant life, I watched, I learned, I appreciated, I connected.
I tended and cared and nurtured. I tried to act with kindness and compassion, being a good neighbor, a good member of family, a good citizen of this earth.
Hopefully, what I do in my life helps others grow, find peace, and be comfortable with their own place in this world. Hopefully, I am a force of constructive growth and love.
And, hopefully, what I do, and what I choose not to do, and act, and be, will make a positive difference in this world, and make it a better place.
Honoring the earth, caring for it, being a good steward, is a spiritual calling, and is being in harmony with all that is around me.
Honoring the earth is a sacred duty.

–Neal Lemery, April 22, 2017

Taking Care


 

 

“Take care.” It’s a popular thing to say, as friends part, or end a phone call.

There’s a great need now to take care in our culture. I’m seeing a lot of pain, a lot of anxiety, a lot of doubt and uncertainty as to who we are as a nation and a culture. There’s a lot of doubt, of losing a sense of purpose.

When I watch the evening news, or peruse the headlines in the paper, I find myself emotionally wringing my hands, or throwing them up in anger. I’m close to my boiling point.

“What can I do about it?” I wonder. How can I take care?

Not much, I’ve concluded. But I can make a difference where I live.

I can take care in my community. And, it is something I can do, rather than sit on the couch, tap my foot, and bemoan to my wife about how things could be different. Talking back to the TV doesn’t seem to do anything.

A few weeks ago, a friend suddenly lost his son. It was a great tragedy, but what could I do? I still don’t know what I can do, but I did reach out to him. I went to his house and just sat with him, letting him talk, letting us sit there in silence. He was not alone, and I just listened. I went with him to the funeral home, and prayed with him, holding him as he cried.

At the funeral, I spoke the words he wanted said. I welcomed people, listened to them, and held them close. We cried and we grieved, and my friend was not alone.

A friend should not grieve alone, and there was a community of grief, holding my friend close. And, maybe that’s all that we can do, grieving together, taking care of each other, in that awful journey of grief and shock and bewilderment.

“I don’t know how to do this,” my friend said.

“None of us do,” I replied. “But we take care of ourselves and each other.”

“That’s all we can do.”

Another friend had a heart attack, and I sent my prayers, a few words of comfort, a message of “take care”. And, he is, and I am.

Another friend needed to talk, to get a worry off their chest, and let it out. So, I listened, and loved them, and listened some more. As we parted, we said those words, “take care”, and we will and we did.

I cared for a public space this morning, a small garden in a parking lot, often busy with people on a mission, with business to take care of, the never ending errands of life. I pruned, weeded, planted new plants, and added some fertilizer just before the next spring shower poured down. Most visitors won’t notice it, but some will. And, this summer, as the plants grow and bloom, and the empty spaces fill in, there will be some beauty to be enjoyed, a quiet respite on a busy day. That garden will “take care” of someone in need of that quiet moment.

What I did wasn’t much and it won’t make the evening news, but in other ways it was a lot. I made a small difference in one corner of the world.

I “took care” and, in this crazy world, that makes a difference.

 

–Neal Lemery

4/14/2017

 

 

Suicide: Getting to Resilient


Suicide: Getting to Resilient

 

Five percent. One out of twenty. That’s the reality of our community, our country. Within the last year, one out of twenty adults seriously considered ending their life.

Suicide. It is an epidemic, and we don’t talk about it much. Suicide talk is taboo. Don’t go there. But, we must.

Every person needs to be connected to at least one other person, and to be able to reach out, talk about depression, sadness, and hopelessness. We all need hope, an expectation that there is a tomorrow, there is opportunity for change, that our lives make a difference, and that life is worth living. Life’s problems can’t be only on our own shoulders.

Last week, I was part of a workshop, getting trained with skills to take on this intensely personal problem, to be a first responder in addressing suicide in our culture. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a national movement to develop a first response model in our communities. Evidence based models and techniques gave us the tools and the confidence to reach out and connect with someone who is possibly contemplating ending their life.

Invite a conversation, and plunge into the “perfect storm” that is roaring through their lives, and make connection. When the signs are there, find the courage to “ask the question” and begin talking about suicide, and options for change, connecting them with you and connecting them with resources to be able to move ahead with their lives, and regain hope.

Suicidal thoughts have stormed through my own life, sometimes ending lives far too early, or paralyzing people with deep depression and isolation. Surviving family and friends are wracked with uncertainly and chaos, leaving profound questions unanswered and lives thrown off track.

Making connections is what changes lives and saves lives. What I’ve learned in life, and relearned at the ASIST training, is that you do connect. You do reach out, engage people, and show your genuine concern for them and their well-being. You connect with your own humanity and your fellows, and make that vital one to one connection.

Showing concern and empathy, and making that connection often saves lives and gives people a new sense of hope and possibility in their lives.

Help make them safe now, and help them develop their plan to be safe now.

When you have that conversation, make those connections, one to one. And, help them connect with others; not only with friends and family, but professional care givers and health care providers. Be the gatekeeper for them and help them find their way.

The National Suicide Prevention Hot Line, 1-800-243-8255(TALK) is a valuable resource. I’ve added it to my phone contacts. Other resources: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org, Youthline (1-877-YOUTH-911) and their text: TEEN2TEEN@839863.

Connect with your local mental health services provider. In my hometown, Tillamook, their crisis line is 800-962-2851.

All of these services operate 24 hours a day, because suicide is a 24 hour a day issue of community wide concern.

Help build a resilient, safe community.

—-Neal Lemery 9/1/2016