Sunday, September 27, 2015

Syrian Refugees and Schizophrenia In My Family

11.6 million people displaced in Syria and the surrounding countries.  Unreal.  Unreal unless you're there.  One of the people on the move.  In my own world, schizophrenia is present again.  First my father, now my niece.  Also unreal.  Unless you're in my family.  The two seem completely disconnected. But they're not to me.  The common threads are fear and wanting to stay present.  To be present, connected, and thoughtful when it would just be easier to not think about any of it.

So, for my family, I do that in all kinds of ways - by telephone, Facebook, prayer, conversation with friends, and my own counseling to work through family history and family now.

For the refugees, I'm trying to keep it present and prayerful.  Some of you know that with my nursing background and with my theology this is also about bodies for me.  Some people in my church asked council members for a way to respond to the refugee crisis.  We're doing something we've done before for Lutheran World Relief by making personal care kits (  I've never made one.  This time I did.  In part, it's about people and their bodies so it makes sense to me. I went and bought a few towels, nail clippers, toothbrushes, soap, and combs.  Watched the video on the LWR website so I could wrap the kits to hold together for shipment across oceans to the camps.

As I put together each kit, they became my prayer for each person. There was something about putting those few items together and imaging somebody opening it up. They are unmarked - no names, no religious or patriotic symbols, no identifiers. A personal care kit wrapped by one person who remembers that another person needs care.  It's a human act for another human that can't be replicated by governments or NGOs.  It's one to one.  Being present across distance. Remembering and being remembered.  That is all.

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