Let me begin my (Nate Crawford) blogging on here with a brief meditation on Good Friday in light of mental illness. And, mostly, I come at this as a critique of the famous Tony Campolo line, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!” 

Now, in one sense, he is right. Sunday comes. That’s the beauty of the Christian message. The Christian message is one of hope, that the Resurrection is coming.

However, the power of Good Friday is its darkness. It should be called dark Friday. You see, Good Friday is the day that Christians “celebrate” the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. And when we move back to that day, it is devastating, it is dark, there is no hope, all is lost, there is no Sunday and will never be a Sunday. In fact, things are so bad that the disciples do not recognize Jesus when Sunday does come.

It is this darkness and pain, abandonment and despair that is spoken to by mental illness. You see, the mentally ill live under the constant threat of something like Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Holy Saturday is the day Christians “celebrate” Jesus descending into Hell). In mental illness the descent into Hell, the darkness that comes from Good Friday is not just imagined, it is lived out. When the schizophrenic person can do no other but listen and follow the voices that only he can here, that no one else believes, that causes his rejection, that is Hell. When someone has an anxiety attack in the middle of class, cannot catch her breath, with students and teacher in the dark, that is a living Hell. When the bipolar person flies into a manic state that leads to a dangerous psychosis where she only can dig a knife through her wrist or when she goes into such a deep depression that showering is too much, that breathing is painful, that death is the only friend, it is a living Hell. 

So, maybe this Good Friday and Holy Saturday, we can turn to the mentally ill to hear their stories, their experience of going to the abyss (often multiple times). Or, perhaps, we can simply remember those in pain, those who hurt and give ear to their lives, their whole lives.

PS: I am not saying only the mentally ill experience this kind of darkness and despair. Those who do not know where there next meal will come from, whose home has been destroyed, whose country is in complete disarray, and on and on also experience a living Hell. I offer but one example.