Serving God, Serving our Community

It’s OK that you’re not OK

Dear parishioners and friends,

Since birth as a1950s “baby-boomer, I’ve benefited from health clinics, injections, dental treatment, GPs and an appendix operation just before my geography degree final exams.  Through the following decades to my current, “mature” years, the NHS (or French equivalent) have been there.  Eating healthily and exercising regularly also play an important part, but of course nothing provides a cast iron guarantee of perfect health. There’s an interesting parallel with poverty: Jesus said that “you will always have the poor,” yet he also said, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”  He spent a lot of time with those who were poor or sick or both.   They were not a “problem to be solved,” or to be pitied, but people with dignity and potential, people made in God’s image.  Jesus loved and valued them, seeking to release this potential in them, starting where they were.

I haven’t read Megan Devine’s book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK, but it’s been mentioned a few times recently, including at services following the tragic death of local teenager, Sam West.  Sam’s art, musical compositions and love of life were amongst the gifts that he brought to others, and will continue to do so in future.  And yet he found some of this hard to believe.  What can be said in such sad circumstances?  Grief is a healthy, normal sign of the pain of loss and also an expression of enduring love.  As well as helping those going through tough times, physically or emotionally, let’s also value and learn from them and their insights.  Walking alongside Sam’s family recently has helped me to share something now of my own recent, unexpected journey.

A simple family party game at Christmas 2016 set me off on a puzzling journey last year.  In the game I surprisingly struggled to recall the random lists of words and names.  My GP did some tests and referred me to Maidstone Hospital.  Over the following months Angela and I returned about once a month for me to have various additional psychological tests, an MRI Scan and consultations.  The good news is I don’t have dementia or a tumour and I’m not “cracking up”.  They call my condition “Mild Cognitive Impairment” (MCI), particularly affecting my short term memory (sometimes names or where I put the car keys).  It may get better, it may stay the same, it may get worse. Time will tell.  I try to follow a healthy lifestyle and am also grateful for the love and patience from Angela, family and local friends.  I want to ask Y MCI?   Maybe part of the answer is that It’s OK that you’re not OK?

Rev Fred Olney