(From my journal October 2013)

On October 7, 2013 I was admitted to CRESST where I was to stay for three weeks. It was my first time at a psychiatric treatment facility in fifteen years. The biggest reason I was there was to adjust my strange sleeping patterns. They were thought to be bringing on symptoms of psychosis.

I enjoyed being with the other patients. Felt at ease with them in the same way I felt at ease with Living Room members. They were my kind of people and I cared about them. I felt a natural compassion for them.

One day I got upset when the nurse told me I had to stop talking so much to residents. She claimed I was doing the staff’s work. “You’re here for your own health. You need to think more of yourself and less about others.” I ended up in tears.

After thatI tried to stick to myself. But people kept coming to me, telling me their stories. Mostly all I did was listen.

Pretty soon I was to learn that rumours had been circulating that I was a priest. So that’s why everyone was so open with me!

I met many good believers, and it’s not because I went around making a big deal about my belief. My faith just surfaced without effort, as it has for years. Everyone knew about it.

Before the meeting one morning, I suggested to the nurse that we take some time to express our thanks for something, it being Thanksgiving Day. She did ask each of us, though not very willingly. I don’t think it was her thing. Amazingly this drew tears from one resident as well as the nurse herself. It became a wonderful sharing time.

Some special things happened during my time at this facility: My prayers with a distraught Catholic lady. People sharing stories from their life. An Iranian man telling me about the warm spot he has in his heart for Jesus, and the precious sharing with him that followed.

I hope to find a place later in this story to tell about my hospital stay later on. My psychiatrist became a bit alarmed to hear I was enjoying it. But, you know, I’ve found God’s presence can be experienced in a special way among people with mental illness almost more than with others. They have a great hunger for God.

Do our churches know that?