Day 6: The Blue Notebook

Last night I had a deep talk with God, or maybe it was just an intense crying out to the Lord. Is God personal? Can we truly in all cold-hearted, clear-headed sanity, have an interactive relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ and Father God, the great creator of the universe?

I know I will keep seeking, knocking, asking, longing, pleading, begging, for all of my life. There is a bottomless pit of need inside me. Medication can mask that to some extent, but it’s still there.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you under my wings.’

I long to be gathered under God’s wings and held in His mysterious love, safely hidden from the fearful, crumbling world. Cas  

Under His wings I am safely abiding;
  Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;
  He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
 
Under His wings, under His wings,
  Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
    Safely abide forever.

Under His wings—what a refuge in sorrow!
  How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
  There I find comfort, and there I am blest.

Under His wings—oh, what precious enjoyment!
  There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me;
  Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.


by William Orcutt Crushing  (1823-1902)

Day 5: The Blue Notebook

I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 

I need to be washed with the WORD even if I struggle to make sense of it all. I need GOD, not insanity. I want to have a relationship with God that is fulfilling and alive. Cas

I long for the RAPTURE! It is a twofold longing. I pray Jesus raptures us for LOVE, all for love. Yet, perhaps it is already too late for that because we need rescuing? The world is frightening and falling and failing. Will the Rapture happen for love? Or because the world is ripe for the great and terrible tribulation?

Either way, why ever, God finally says: “Now! Go my Son and rapture your church! It is time! Blow the trumpet! Away to the clouds!”

I can’t express how much I long and yearn and beg for that blessed day when the roll is called up yonder and we, the Bride of Christ, are with the LAMB of God at the marriage supper. Cas

Psalm 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
Psalm 122:6 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
1 Corinthians 15:52 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Day 29: Little By Little

Little by Little
Cas Reeves 2018
 
I’d like to make music for you, Lord.
If I was a harp how I’d sing,
For you my dear Saviour
Are so much more,
Then even just God,
You’re my King.
I fell through a hole in the ground
To a lost, sad world without words
But slowly I rise to my feet,
You lift me a little,
So gentle and kind.
Somehow, I’m less lost
And not out of my mind.
I write a sentence, a page.
Not much, no manic or rage,
But perhaps what follows
Will be greater than all
The push and the drama
Before my mind’s fall.
Will my words change the world?
I don’t know,
But the fact that I’m here
Goes to show,
That little by little,
Like a retuned fiddle
My words are a song changing me.
With my heart fit to burst
I come with my thirst
And sing, I have a story set free.
“I fell through a hole in the ground to a lost, sad world without words.” This is what mental illness felt like for me, and it took a long journey to find my words again. I feel like I can write again, even on medications. I am so grateful to God for His healing and to my family and friends for their loving support. I look forward to the future and wonder what God might do with my story.

Day 28: The Circus

The Circus
Cas Reeves 2020
 
I can barely walk the path before me.
I stumble, and I fall, and then I crawl.
Like pictures torn from a yellow book,
My thoughts are dark, but still, I look.
My mind is like performance art,
A circus troop that’s full of glee
Dancing in the big top that’s me.
Where’s the clown?
I see the acrobats move faster.
The girl standing on the horse
And the ringmaster.
Nobody is selling popcorn anymore.
The monkey lost his jacket long ago.
And the little girl who’s only three
Who thinks that she is me
Rides on her Pa’s shoulders once again.
If I had everything, I’d still be poor
But I’m as rich as I can ever get
Because I live life over and over
With a little girl who can’t forget.
My mind is like performance art..… This was the poem that inspired me to do this project. It takes my dissociative identity disorder and makes, at least a part of it, into something transformative and beautiful. At the core of my illness is that little girl seeking protection and healing. Learning that God loves all of me and letting myself accept that love is a huge step towards better mental health.

Day 27: Enraptured

Enraptured
Cas Reeves 2005
 
God and God alone
He holds my heart
With His still small voice.
His smile shining into my spiritual eyes.
Transcending human love
He enraptures me.
Divine beyond perfection
And to perfection and beyond.
He is so good to me.
I fall in love anew,
I run to Him with all of me,
The black and red and all my darkness
Offered to His light.
I am his,
Layer upon layer for His own.
He is and so I am.
Such joy He gives
In place of grey despair.
There are moments of joy when I feel close to God and my illness takes a backseat. All my brokenness and darkness are offered to God’s light. There are days when I feel whole and all of that is because of my faith in God. The healing and wholeness I do experience is a gift from my Heavenly Father. He enraptures me and gives colour in place of the grey.  

Day 20: At Sea

At Sea
Cas Reeves 2014
 
God took me.
He stood me on a beach and said:
‘What do you see?’
I said: ‘The ocean.’
The sea spread out before me,
Huge powerful waves,
Stretching in a curve on beach
As far as the eye could reach
And beyond.
Endless blue to the horizon.
Deep, dark, blue sea.
Unfathomable depths hiding worlds.
God said: ‘I am the sea
What are you to me?’
I stared at the pushing, pulsing, waves,
Thought of the encompassing waters
Covering the earth.
‘What am I compared to Christ?’
I picked up a small, broken shell,
Sun bleached, faded, chipped and incomplete.
I held it up to Jesus,
‘I am this shell.’
God nodded:
‘So little shell what have you
To do with me?
Can you understand my depths?
You cannot comprehend
Even the shallows,
You cannot contain my glory.’
‘No Lord.’ I agreed:
‘But I can be touched by you.’
I threw the shell
And sunk down into my Saviour,
Lost in his wondrous love
At sea.
Today I share a poem to celebrate a beautiful moment of understanding with God.

Day 17: In The Grey

Next comes medication.

In The Grey
Cas Reeves 2012
 
The darkness and the light
They just seem to intermingle.
All is grey; all is mute,
There’s no sunshine and no night.
Beige and cream and soft blues,
No black to take me home.
Mornings and evenings
But no midnight and no noon.
I never see the sun
Or the moon.
Medicated to be calm
Take a pill; it’s a charm.
Go to the doctors,
Get a needle in the arm.
Do not think outside the circle
It’s there to keep you sane.
Do not feel, do not feel all your pain.
Maybe twilight, maybe dawn,
But never sunshine or night,
Stay in the middle,
Grey is right.
Two plus two equals four no more,
Do not say how much you’re hurting,
Keep it all inside.
Quiet child, quiet child,
Find somewhere to hide.
Do not let yourself be seen,
Wrap your arms around your heart.
In the grey, in the grey,
Live dead in the day.
After hospitalisation and a diagnosis of schizoaffective comes medication. Lithium, as a mood stabiliser for the bipolar, and Seroquel, as an anti-psychotic for the schizophrenia. These medications work, but at a terrible cost. The nothingness goes on for years; you live in ‘the grey’. There are many side effects. The chemical straightjacket of medication is a cruel punishment for a crime we never committed.

Day 16: Abe

I love this poem. So good to share a beautiful moment from my time in mental ward.

Abe
Cas Reeves 2015
 
Abe had holes
In the soles
Of his thin khaki socks,
At the toes and the heel
And it seemed sad to me.
He asked questions,
Wrote notes,
On small scraps of paper
These he treasured and took
To carefully write in his book.
Recording his facts
Made sense to me
In that place you see
There’s no clear reality.
Perhaps he’s training to be a spy?
A young man with a mission?
After all, who am I?
 
One night without sleep
With me in bare feet
I found Abe playing the Beatles.
He young to my old
But my favourite I told
Abe played Lucy In The Sky for me.
 
Then this young man
With holy socks
And broken mind
Like mine
He played and sang to me
‘When I’m 64’
And we danced,
On our mental health ward
Dance floor
And a queen
Couldn’t have asked for more.

This really happened, no delusion or hallucination. It is one of the few positive memories I have of my times in mental wards. It was a brief interlude I will never forget. Even in the midst of everything God can give us unexpected moments of bliss that still shine bright in my memory seven years later.

Day 5: Talking Bridges

Talking Bridges
Cas Reeves 2020
 
Talking bridges over my troubled waters.
Crossing deserts on word camels.
Strangers who become closer than friends
Carrying the water to my wells.
Sitting, huddled by quiet trees,
Hoping I am hidden from view.
Waiting silently for the next trek
Along another emotional Kokoda.
Drugged and drowsy
To stop the swinging pendulum of mood.
All-day breathing shallow,
Fearful of the shadows
Flicking in the corner 
Of my fretful eyes.
Colouring mandalas 
Like desperate prayers.
Gel pen mantras to safe vacancy.
Tired, a traveller never leaving,
Always on a journey but staying still.
Talking to unravel my wool
But still, 
It’s tangled strings bind.
In the end,
It’s just me 
And my broken mind.
This is one of my most recent poems inspired by all the amazing counsellors and psychologists who keep carrying water to my well so I can take the long journeys towards understanding my mental illness and finding healing. I dedicate this to every counsellor, psychologist, pastor, chaplain, carer, friend and family member who patiently listens over and over to those of us with mental illness. It helps, we are still ill but it does help.
Thank you.

Day 2: Broken Flowers

Broken Flowers
Cas Reeves 2003
 
I offered God my bunch of broken dreams:
A large bouquet of flowers,
Bruised and wrinkled,
Wilting and forlorn.
I said, they have no use
No real beauty,
Lifeless,
But I want you to have them
I love you Lord
I know I can trust you,
Perhaps you’ll see beauty
Even in my fading hopes.
 
God took them gently with a smile
And one by one
Laid them out and trimmed the ends.
“I’m taking cuttings child
I thought I’d plant a garden
Every dream will make a lovely plant.
Give me time.
This bunch of broken dreams are not dead,
In my hands your hopes
Are living flowers with a future
And a fragrance sweet and all their own.”
This first step in healing for me is to offer all my brokenness to God and have him so lovingly respond. Over and over I have to come back to this place.