You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies… (Psalm 23:5a)
Throughout the course of my illness, I’ve been fortunate to have a steady stream of income, a way to “bring home the bacon.” More than this, I’ve been blessed with a devoted wife who fries it up for me. I’m not ashamed to admit that we found the traditional gender roles to work well in our relationship. In no way has this diminished my respect for her. I know full well how poorly I would function without her. Now that we are separated, I am blessed to live with my sister and step-mother, who see that we are well fed.
Too many persons with mental illnesses find themselves in positions where they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Even those with material resources struggle with chaos in their lives that works against their need for constant structure. No doubt this contributes to the number of people with mental illness who are malnourished.
One thing faith communities can provide to serve those with mental illnesses is a good meal. And not just for the poor. A church I once served offered a free Christmas dinner to the community and found that more volunteers showed up than customers. These were mostly older and single adults looking for a way to battle depression that often strikes on this holiday typically devoted to families.
When we receive a meal prepared by people who care about us, the enemies of depression and other forms of mental distress can be held at bay by a strong sense of fellowship. Together, we can gather around God’s table of grace where we “taste and see that the Lord is good.”