I Feel Like Busting Loose!

Desolation Row, as evidenced in the drug abuse epidemic and other examples of a fallen world, the subject of my last blog, can be put in the rearview mirror. In a sense we are all homeless – in this world we are sojourners.

When we get too hung up with the things of this world – a house, a nice lawn, a car or cars, even maybe a swimming pool, there is a problem. The obsession with material, worldly things is one reason there is prejudice, judgmentalism against the homeless in Bucks County, PA. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, but there is more to life than personal peace and prosperity. Otherwise, we may as just as well be mannequins! We’d live in boxes.

Losing my house, job, etc. helped me realized what’s really important in life.

If we don’t know where we are going, and why things happen, then we are lost. In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, an everyman character, is taken on a journey from his hometown, The City of Destruction, to the Celestial City. As he journeys along The Kings Highway, after being relieved of burden of sin, he goes through trials, temptations and tribulations. The classic novel is subtitled “The Allegory of The Soul.” For those of you in Doylestown, an allegory is “a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one: “

“Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgrim%27s_Progress

In the everyday twists and turns in life, you may wonder where you going? What’s the purpose of life, you may be thinking. Do you, like the mother in The Rolling Stone’s Mother’s Little Helper, need valium to send you on your way, get you through your busy day?  https://www.bing.com/search?q=the+rolling+stones+mothers+little+helper&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=4b140af9dcd44e0b8092833b507ba222&cc=US&setlang=en-US

Like the pilgrims in The Pilgrims Progress, people today get caught in the slough of despond, bogged down by doubts, fears, temptations, lusts, shame and guilt. Some are homeless. To cope with homelessness, you won’t find the answer in the bottle, by eating more food than you need – gluttony, by worshipping with Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes (smokes are gold in the homeless community) or through drugs, which is popular outside the homeless community and often brought into the homeless community as druggies become homeless, which is no more helpful than the little yellow pill that mother, although she’s not really ill runs to for shelter. Like her, if you keep running to these shelters they will get you through the day, and finally to your busy, dying day.

To get out of swamp, you don’t drain it, but ask for help from a higher power, God, to get out of the pool of decadence, scum and filth. Press on towards the Celestial City!

Life can be demanding, frustrating. As a caregiver, I deal with someone who, although her stage IV cancer is almost gone, wants to give up on life. She’s worn out physically and that’s affecting her spirits. By contrast, my grandmother, rather than being cranky and despondent in her waning years when she had Lou Gehrig’s disease, kept a kindly spirit and thought of others. Unable to speak, she’d write notes to me to ask me about how things are going. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

Sometimes I feel like busting loose, busting loose. https://www.bing.com/search?q=i+feel+like+busting+loose%2C+busting+loose+song&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=69dd32eb059e4907bf4b845a3d4a156f&cc=US&setlang=en-US

But that’s just another escape. It doesn’t resolve the problem.

When you are on the right path, and not a customer at Vanity Fair, and see the vanity of cheap thrills that don’t satisfy, you find true peace and meaning in life. You don’t have to be, as Curly of The Three Stooges chirps, a victim of soy-cum-stances!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you“. -2nd Corinthians 4:8-12

Hope for Depression

People have depression for different reasons. Being homeless is depressing. I know; I’ve had a taste of it. But with God’s help, you can be delivered and lead a productive life.

The world doesn’t see it that way. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t put people back together again. Ultimately, the world writes people off. In Bucks County, PA, a hustler from the county mental health industry approached me and others with a proposal that we resign ourselves and allow us to be labeled as a lost cause and essentially become a ward of the state.

The Bucks County establishment sees the homeless as a lost cause.

This is the case with Odysseus’s men in The Odyssey when they were in The Land of The Lotus Eaters. Like kids who don’t want to leave a place they like and their parents have to make them leave, Odysseus had to get his men to leave this sleepy land.

“In Greek mythology the Lotus-eaters, also referred to as the lotophagi or lotophaguses were a race of people living on an island dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.” –Wikipedia  

By contrast, in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and others get through trials and temptations along their journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.

God sent people to help the pilgrims through tough times, such as Mr. Great-Heart and Mr. Valiant for The Truth. Two pilgrims had a problem with depression and anxiety – Mr. Despondency and his daughter “Much Afraid.”  In fact, Mr. Great-Heart and company rescue Mr. Despondency and Much Afraid from Doubting Castle, where they were held prisoner by the monster Giant Despair.

Pilgrims in Mr. Bunyan’s allegory of the soul also are nearly trapped on their journey when they find a soft spot to sleep. At this spot they were just supposed to rest up but not linger.

We need to encourage one another, including the weak and weak minded. One pilgrim in the 17th century story, Mr. Feeble-minded, lingers, hesitant to continue on the journey to the Celestial City. Mr. Great-heart takes him under his wing. “But brother … I have it in commission, to comfort the feeble-minded, and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us; we will wait for you, we will lend you our help, we will deny ourselves of some things, both opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you, we will be made all things to you, rather than you shall be left behind.”

In a post on the Biblical Counseling Center’s site “Lessons Learned from the Dark Valley of Depression”, the poster relates the testimony of Bob Somerville, a Biblical counselor and professor at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California.  Dr. Somerville fell into a deep depression after he had major back surgery and after having been worn out by a tough work schedule.

“Everything was black and hopeless. I truly believed I would never preach or teach again,” he said.

Dr. Somerville explained how God brought him out of this dark valley.

He read the Bible daily, read Christian literature/publications, got Christian counseling and was supported by his wife, who stayed by his side during the ordeal. He counted on God’s grace.

One of the lessons Dr. Somerville learned after his bout with depression is deeper empathy for those who suffer from depression.

There is no quick fix for depression. In the 12 Step journey program I attend we learned that overcoming our problems, whether it be depression, anxiety, anger, alcohol or drug abuse, takes time. Wounds don’t heal overnight, but, if you stay on the right path as John Bunyan’s pilgrims did, you will find peace.

Years ago, I strayed from the King’s Highway, the road to the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress, and like some of the wayward characters in the story, suffered as a result. But God sent circumstances and the right people my way and I got on the right road.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian gets stuck in the Slough of Despond, which is composed of the decadence, scum and filth of sin and cries out for help and is pulled out by the character “Help,” and goes his way on solid ground towards the Wicket Gate, where sinners saved by grace can enter the narrow way.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” –Psalm 40:2