500 Beds

| March 25, 2013

Lib Salter Pathby Lib Campbell, Pastor Emeritus, St. Mark’s UMC, Raleigh.

Today is Monday of Holy Week 2013, a day when thoughts gather toward the coming events of the week. Two thousand years ago, plus, Jesus was in Jerusalem. He had angered the religious authorities of the day… angered them unto death. The powerful elite of the church was making decisions not in keeping with the call of the faith to lay aside pomp and fringe on the garment, to seek the company of those who had nothing among them, society’s castaways.

Set a feast for them. Seat them at the head of the table. Give away your cloak to them, for they are the ones whom God loves most. You with your fine words and fancy robes are empty suits. Look at yourself. What do you see?

The woman on the evening news was a former employee at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. There is argument among power brokers about contracts and dirty deeds, all the time closing a facility that for decades has been home to those whom Jesus called us to love and care for. Power does bad things to people. We forget who we are and what we are called to do with what we have been given.

The woman on the evening news tonight said the land was given for the mentally ill and for years had been home to those for whom answers of care were too frequently non-existent. Five hundred beds that had been shelter and a good night’s rest are now lost in the fray surrounding contract disputes, who is right and who is wrong.

The woman on the evening news forgot to mention that one of those beds –  if it had been there since the 1960s –  may have been the bed my mother slept in for nearly six months. Mother was a patient at Dix, her last resort home, at a time of mental breakdown when mis-diagnosis had kept her in a dark place too long. Healing did not come to her until her months at Dix.

As an eighth grader, I visited her in the McBride Building. I remember hearing the screams in the halls and seeing the bars on the windows, and watching people being escorted down the hall in straight jackets. I remember going to the Chapel on the Campus of Dix and hearing my Mother play the organ there. It was part of her therapy. I do not know the name of her doctor there, though I give thanks for him often. He unlocked the mystery of Mother’s illness. Hormone therapy brought her back to us for good.

The woman on the evening news failed to tell the viewers that Dix Hill is sacred ground, more sacred than most people, especially those who argue about its future, even know. It is holy ground on which the lost have been found, the sick have been healed, the broken have been shored up, music of praise has been offered up, and Christ has walked among those whom he loves most.

When sacred trust is broken, where does fault lie? Assigning fault is not the work. Each one in power, each broker, each lawyer, each lawmaker, each green visionary is called to a great consideration. I will not judge them, but they will not go un-judged. May God give us courage to do what is right on behalf of those who have no power at all. Doing right makes this Monday Holy. Amen.

 

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. dj anderson says:

    The mentally ill have few to advocate for them, and if all the money gained by leasing Dix to the city, then the amount they already have spent on them would simply be spent elsewhere.

    I think there were 2000 patients at Dix when I came to Raleigh. The drug treatments put most of them on the streets, literally for some, and some were moved to Butner.

    Umstead State Park and “Dix Hill” as it was called when I first visited someone there, would be great real estate for Wake County to grow with.

    I say a park would be better than a “destination” park with 20 acres of paved over land. A “park” with no residential buildings would be better. One divorced from business interests would be better.

    But mostly, the land should forever provide for the mentally ill of NC. This whole debate has brought the care of the pushed out mentally ill into public view, and that is a good thing.