The following was sent to Barbara from Geranium Farmer Dr. Fred Turpin, minister and psychotherapist. Thank you, Dr. Turpin, for reminding those in leadership positions to care for themselves and others in times of austerity and personal isolation.Subject
: A personal letter for leaders of religious and community organizations
I want to relay a few thoughts to those of you who are ministers, priests or rabbis, or those of you who are in charge of various clubs and organizations. I don't need to tell you of the darkness that seems to be descending upon the world right now. Even Rupert Murdoch today said that nations will be redefined and futures altered. Things that we always assumed would never fail are falling apart with greater rapidity than anyone could have imagined even a couple of months ago.
As a minister and psychotherapist, I'm increasingly concerned about the psychological effects this will have on the people in our churches and temples, our neighbors and even ourselves. At this time it is difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. I think it reasonable to expect that in times like this, we will see a number of people who retreat into their homes and suffer intensely from fear and despair. We will also see a large increase in homelessness, people going hungry, postponing necessary medical care, withdrawing into depression and considering suicide. Marriages and families are coming under added pressure. The repercussions with some people are quite severe, though may not always be noticed by neighbors or their religious community.
I know each one of you is doing some serious thinking about how your church, temple or organization can do a better job of tracking your members and recognizing when they withdraw or show symptoms of depression or dire need. This is the time when people need a sense of community-- need to be seen, recognized and appreciated.
Many organizations are drawing up a buddy system, so that if someone begins to withdraw, that is noticed and someone will follow up and possibly visit them. Now is the time when we need to have more church suppers or neighborhood gatherings, more evenings when meetings are organized and social activities are available and that everyone knows the doors of the church or temple are always open. Do whatever you can to increase a sense of community and family. Be alert for the signs when someone needs to be helped.
If there's one thing we know it is that our society has become far too oriented toward the individual, toward the idea that we should be self-sufficient. We just can't sustain that anymore. We now need to embody a deeper sense of belonging, and if it doesn't begin in our religious institutions and community organizations, where else will it happen?
I'm only putting into words the concerns which we all hold in our hearts and need to hear from every pulpit and put into action in whatever ways you deem best.
If there's any way that I can be of service to you or assist you in any way, please let me know. My prayers are with each of you during this difficult time. And we also need to be careful of our own danger of falling into depression or suffering from burn out. I'm here if you need me in any way. I wish you a deep sense of shalom. Fred
Dr. Fred Turpin
18 Lakeview Drive
Ridgefield, CT 06877FHT8@aol.com