Moving forward without just moving on

Yesterday, a student asked me, “How do we move forward from here without simply moving on?”

This has been a difficult week in the life of the UH community.  Our hearts grieve the suicide of a student here on our campus. We pray for the student, for family and friends, and for the UH community.  May the God of hope and healing be manifestly present and at work even in this time of dark confusion.  We pray in the silence of not-knowing, standing at the edge of the utility of words.

For me, it feels like there is this weighty, collective sense of not knowing – not knowing why this happened or how to respond, how to do enough to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again, how to ensure that students know that they are not alone and that there is indeed hope, how to cope with this tragedy amidst other disasters occurring all around us.  This not-knowing and this grief is a heavy burden, which we bear together as students, faculty and staff here in this place.

We all know that we must move forward.  But, how shall we move forward without simply moving on?

Memory and Lament
Our Christian tradition testifies to the power and necessity of remembering our losses and our grief and lamenting them.  All of our liturgies make space for this outcry because we worship a God who hears us and sees us, and who reaches out to comfort and save.  I invite you to take a look at your prayer life and to make space in it for this sorrow.  This Sunday, at The Gathering at St. Luke the Evangelist, we will get together for a liturgy of memory and healing, followed by our community meal.  We will not move forward by simply moving on.  We will move forward by being a community that bears each others burdens, through the strength of the One who makes us to stand.

Mental Health Resources
The Cougar has been doing a great job of getting the word out about the counseling services offered by CAPS (http://www.uh.edu/caps/).  The AD Bruce Religion Center is open for prayer.  You should also know that I am here for drop-ins at the AD Bruce on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays or by appointment, and that Canterbury can connect you or your friends with mental health providers in different parts of the city. Do not let financial concerns keep you from reaching out; Canterbury can help with that.

There is one more resource that I would like to highlight for you if you are asking, “What can I do?” The Wellness Center provides a Mental Health First Aid training (http://www.uh.edu/wellness/programs/mhfa/) to faculty students and staff.  This community-culture changing training is designed to equip you to offer initial help to someone experiencing a mental health crisis so that they can get to the help they need.  The next on campus training is in December, but the very same training will be offered, free and open to the public, by the Episcopal Health Foundation throughout the fall at the following locations in the Houston area:

Spring
Holy Comforter Episcopal Church
Saturday, October 7, 2017
8:30am – 5pm – Register Here

Houston
Ascension Episcopal Church
Saturday, October 21, 2017
8:30am – 5pm – Register Here

Pearland
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Saturday, October 28, 2017
8:30am – 5pm – Register Here

Please consider making room in your life for one of these invaluable trainings, and be sure that you are taking time to care for your spirit in this tumultuous semester.

Here for you,
The Rev. Eileen O’Brien, Missioner for Houston Canterbury


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