The Incessant Chatter

It’s funny, I go about my life taking care of myself and my dogs.  I go to church and bible study and work in the kitchen to help prepare the communal meal every Sunday.  I have even taken a job looking after a 91-year-old woman a few hours a week and like doing it. 

My house is clean.  I have food of sorts in my house. I don’t owe anyone a debt and I pay my bills on time.  Most mornings I hike in the foothills with my dogs for over an hour to give us exercise and help my mental state.  My guess is that I would be called a highly functioning adult.

Yet I have this fairly constant whisper in the back of mind that I am going to kill myself.  It is something I think about many times a day.  Sometimes I shut the voice up with the promise, “OK, I’ll kill myself this fall.”  

While I care deeply about others I can’t get close to anyone. I guess that isn’t too hard to figure out since my husband killed himself two years ago.  My final arrangements have already been made and paid for. There are no funeral arrangements since I have no family or close friends.

My dogs are what really deter me emotionally.   Would my plans for their care happen as I planned or would they wind up in the pound, frightened and eventually put down?

Not desecrating the life God has given me with suicide deters me spiritually and intellectually.  I pray as deeply as I can and I study the Bible.  While I pray I feel close to God but the whispers sometimes continue even then.

It is my suspicion that the people who know me best never dream that I am thinking about suicide most of the time.  In fact sometimes the thoughts are so insistent that I can’t really focus on conversation.  But I put on an interested expression and let the other party talk and no one suspects.

Medication doesn’t work.  It makes it worse.  I frustrate the doctors and psychologists and they quickly lose interest since they really can’t seem to help.  How many times have I been to a therapist or shrink in the last year and a half?  Often their solution it to have the police pick me up and take me to the hospital for a psych evaluation and then I am released with a referral to see a shrink.  So now I don’t go to the doctor or the shrink.  

This post has been all about me.  I know there is a greater world out there and I hate the fact that I am so self absorbed.  I do care about the future of our nation, about the persecuted Christians throughout the world, about hunger and children dying.  In fact the hopelessness of these issues when I think of them keeps me from reading and listening to the news since it increases the chatter.

I don’t know what to do.

How to Melt a Heart of Stone

The use of the Jesus Prayer began with the Desert Fathers in about the 5th Century.  Since then it has spread throughout the world. In Russia both monastics and lay people have prayed the Jesus Prayer for many centuries.  Some of them wandered the roads and forests while saying the Jesus prayer as a way to grow closer to God.  They lived in the countryside and people would give them a bit of food as a kindness and a blessing.  This has been a way of sanctification for many.

Eventually as a person persists in this prayer while living a holy life it is said that the heart prays the prayer at each breath even while asleep.

For me hiking has been a way to fight depression and suicidal thoughts and restore my connection with God.  I especially like praying the Jesus Prayer while I hike or walk.  It controls my wandering mind and brings it back to God.  It focuses the entire body and heart on God in one unified action.

Because when I am hike I get short of breath I simplify the prayer to:

Lord Jesus  (breathe in)

Have mercy (breathe out)

This provides a profound way to make hiking or walking a meditation on the key point of Christian life.  That we need God’s mercy  and that mercy was already given us through Jesus Our Lord.

The entire prayer which I pray when at home and I am not breathing hard is:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God  (breathe in)

Have mercy on me, a sinner (breathe out)

God promised in Ezekiel 36:26  that “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  This Sunday at Liturgy our pastor, Father Nicolay Miletkov, talked of the effect of the Jesus prayer.  He said that each time we say the Jesus prayer it is like a drop of water dripping on our stony hearts.  And just as the constant drip drip of water on stone eventually wears down the rock, so our stony hearts begin to erode and to reveal the flesh and blood hearts that God created.  It takes many years of praying this deceptively simple prayer to wear away the stone that surrounds our hearts.

Having tried this prayer when I was a new Christian I wasn’t able to appreciate its power or its beauty.  Now that I am old and understand that I can do nothing of myself I am so grateful for this ancient tradition which transforms the simple act of breathing into prayer.

Maybe It’s Not A Trial But It’s Sin

I haven’t been blogging for a couple of months because of an intense indifference to life.

Wanting to care I can’t:

Keep busy they say

Pray more

You aren’t trying hard enough

So-and-so’s  life is much worse than yours

Why can’t you be more like other people?

If you loved God you wouldn’t feel this way.

They are so right.  So I keep busy; I hike, I drive a friend to and fro, I take a child to the zoo.

And I pray.  I ask God to take this terrible indifference from me.

Only then do strange tears come.

I cry so hard I can’t see the Bible to read.

I wish I knew why I cried.  If I did then maybe I could do something different.

As evening draws close and I swelter in the 82 degree house I find myself plotting how to kill myself.

No.  I say.  No.  I will not do it.

I wonder now is this a trial?

Somehow I don’t think so.  It must be the consequence of sin.

So I renew my cry to God.  Tell me my sin and I will repent.

I will shout it from the mountaintop so the world will know.

But he doesn’t answer me.

But I feel his presence.  What does he want?

The only thing I want is to give him that.

“Our Life Depends on The Kind of Thoughts We Nurture”

Elder Thadeus

Last week, while hiking in the Sandia Mountains, my blood sugar fell to really low levels. I would guess it was under 50. I became really shaky and weak and while walking a trail that was full of small rocks, called scree, I fell several times. My feet would shoot out from under me and I fell on my tailbone and lower back. The low blood sugar was caused by eating insufficient carbohydrates before and during the hike. Normally I carry a candy bar with me and some nuts but this day I brought only the nuts.
I was so weak I didn’t know if I could walk out. I had several miles of treacherous switchbacks to go. Making it worse was that I had my dogs with me and I knew that if called for help the ambulance wouldn’t allow me to bring the dogs with me. The dogs would probably end up in the pound. I was unwilling to put them through that experience.
I started to panic as I considered all these dire outcomes. Then I thought of what Elder Thadeus said, “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.” My mind instantly cleared as I thought of all God’s promises in his Word. I rememered that he is always with me and the panic left. I was able to continue walking out. Although what should have been an hour and a half walk turned into a very painful 4 hours walk. I kept my head. I told myself that while it was extremely unpleasant to be so weak and fall so often, I could survive it. And I did. I offered my sufferings to Christ and thought about his thirst on the cross. Certainly my ordeal was nothing in comparison.
This experience made me think about having worked with a cognitive therapist in the past. The main idea of cognitive therapy seems intuitive: Thoughts precede emotions. So to heal the emotions change the thoughts. I never understood why this process didn’t seem particularly effective for me. Over time my thoughts got no less negative.
So why was I able to change my thoughts this time where I was unable to in the past using the tools of cognitive therapy? The key seems to be that without God, fear of the world and future events is pretty realistic. Only if there is a God who is intimately involved in my life can I trust that no matter what happens God is with me. Without the knowledge of God’s love and good will toward me changing my thinking is just a form of positive thinking with no basis in reality.
I know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen to those who love God but knowing that no matter what happens God will use if for both my good and the good of others is what enables me to push on through. My experience in the woods was different because I knew God was with me.
Where cognitive therapy didn’t help, now I am able to turn my thoughts to the things of God. I turn to his word and to his promises and these change the negative emotions because they are founded in what God has said and promised. I believe it because whenever I trust his word and promises he comes through for me in a way I could never have foreseen. So it is reasonable to trust him because it is not presumption it is relying on his Word.
God has been teaching me that as I think so I will be. If I allow myself to feel defeated or fear the future my life becomes a boiling pot of confusion and I cannot focus my mind. If at the first moments of fear I turn my mind to the things of God then my mind calms down and lets me pray I am able to take a reasonable course of action that God gives to me.

Hiking in New Mexico – Correct Blog Address

Boo Is The Better Hiker

Sorry about the confusion. The addressof my new blog is
I created three blogs before I got this one set up properly. Used the address of one that didn’t work in my posting about the new blog.

Why am I Still Here?

My Walk With God

The outlines of why I am still here are beginning to take shape. First of all, when my husband killed himself I had lost my faith in God and in his Christ. The slow descent into madness by my husband had filled me with a sense of failure and hopelessness. It has taken almost two years for God to restore my faith and for me to realize that I wasn’t the main character in this story. Neither was my husband. This is a story about God and his goodness to us.
At 70, the age I was when my husband died I could see no reason to go on. On some days it still seems like nothing so much as surviving one day after another. But now I know that God is on this walk with me. I can worship him and call upon him and he is there. His Word has become the center of my life in a way that it never was before. The Bible is alive with God’s voice speaking to me. He shows me the way, but only one step at a time.
When I wonder about my future: Will I get Alzheimer’s disease? Will I wind up alone with no one to visit in a nursing home? I just put it in God’s hands. If these things happen then God will take care of it. He will give me the courage to face it and he will face it with me so I don’t need to worry. And if to other people I seem to have no dignity, I will know that in the eyes of God I do have dignity, the dignity of trusting him.
When I was suicidal it was because I felt I couldn’t face the future. It was so bleak. But now I know that God is pleased to tell a story with my life and my obedience pleases him. Finally I have grown up enough to know that the esteem of man means nothing and the pleasure of God in my life freely given up for him is the only dignity I care about.
In the course of my husband’s illness, I lost financial security, social standing and the respect of many. But compared with what I gained, I along with Paul can say I count it as nothing compared to pleasure of the God whom I want to please.
So, to answer the question of why I am here I can say that it is because it pleases God to have me here. Maybe he can touch the lives of others through my life. I don’t know. But I do know that for now he wants me right where I am, doing what I am doing. The important thing is why I do it. And the only valid reason is that I do it for the love of God who loved me first.
I invite your comments on my journey through suicide to meaning. Please let me know about your journeys, they encourage me.

The Salinas Pueblo Missions of New Mexico

Southeast of Albuquerque about 80 miles are the ancient Salinas Pueblo Missions. Off Route 55 the three major missions stand in silent tribute to their populations which were forced to flee due to drought and Apache incursions.
The churches in each of the ecologically sensitive pueblos were built in the early to mid 1600’s. These are places sacred to the indiginous people. They lived ecologically balanced lives that depended on less than 10 inchs of rain each year.

When the Franciscans arrived they were gentle and converted the people to love Christ. But they were soon followed by the Spanish king’s men who demanded more in tribute from the poor peoples. Coronado followed not far behind.

At last a several-year draught made life in the pueblos unsustainable and they fled to the Jemez and other areas to the south leaving the evocatively beautiful ruins where today the sound of the wind is all that is heard. To explore these gorgious ruins is to wonder what life in balance with nature must have been like. It is also to wonder if these magnificent and peaceful pueblo people might not be Christian today if not for the Conquistadors.

The cruelty of the Spanish Kings eded the natives conversion to Christianity. These people sang Gregorian Chant in Latin and built the churches in the pueblo. Most of the peoples converted. After the arrival of the King’s men and the draught they left behind their Christinity which they associated with the violence and rapaciousness they had experienced.