Sunday, January 03, 2016


Sunday, January 3, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 66

Mark 10:27 King James Version (KJV)

27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

It is no secret among people who know me that I don’t play well with others.  This is not a plea for advice. However, if you feel the need to give me advice please feel free to do so. 

I suppose one of the questions I should try to answer for myself is why I don’t play well with others?  I really have no big insight into that.  Maybe I don’t want to know the answer or maybe there isn't a simple answer.  I could use my psychiatric label as the reason, but to be honest I don’t think it has anything to do with my inability to build meaningful long term relationships.

Before our family went to the mission field in 1960, I had always been the principal's son or the minister’s son.  Other kids do not pick you to play on their team at recess if you are the son of the high school principal or if they know your dad is a minister. On the mission station in Zimbabwe I had friends, but sadly none of them are in my life today.

I can remember going to visit my Uncle Russell’s farm in Ohio.  There was a pond on it.  Daddy tried to swim across it one time and almost drowned.  Uncle Russell and Aunt Mabel were always happy to see us and I was happy to see my cousins.  They moved to Georgia and we went to Africa so I saw little of them again.  I had other family on my mother’s side that we visited often and that I visited after I came home in 1965.  We seldom visited any of my father’s relatives.

Uncle Forrest, who recently passed away, was one of my uncles who opened the doors of his home when I came home.  He was married to my mother’s youngest sister and a big University of Kentucky basketball fan which alone would have made him special to me.  He was also an investigator for the Dayton, Ohio bus lines which made him a detective on top of all the rest.  He could also play ball. He was born in Hardburly which is a small coal town in Eastern Kentucky. This coal town lies at the head of Jake Branch of Trace Fork of Lotts Creek, 3 1/2 miles NW of Hazard.  It was founded by and named for the Hardy Burlington Mining Co. The post office was established on April 17, 1918.

Another home always open to me was my Cousin Al’s parent’s house.  Aunt Ruby and Uncle Otis were always there for me.  When Al and I would go out on the town in Dayton, Ohio, Uncle Otis would stay awake until we came in no matter how late it was.  Sometimes he drove around until he found my car then went back to wait for us to get home.

I would be remiss not to mention the number of hours my Uncle Wallace spent listening to me.  The truth is I probably spent more time with my uncle when I was at their farm than my cousins.  We talked about everything.  I remember going down to the tobacco sales with him once to take a load for sale.  I also remember gigging for frogs with my cousins and Aunt Betty frying them for us.

Why all this thinking back?  Because lately there have been a lot of people pass away and I realized that people I had been very close to at one time are now gone and that we had grown apart before their departing this earth.

Not long ago a cousin of my wife passed away.  At one time Roy Dale and I did something together almost every week.  Then it stopped.  Now he is gone.  One of my best friends in Florida died a few years back.  I went down for her memorial.  I spoke at it.  I spoke about how much she had done for me when I needed it most.  You know I am not sure I ever told her that.  I am not sure I ever said a proper thank you to my Aunts and Uncles or cousins.   I am not sure I have properly told anyone how important they are to me.

Not playing well with others means you will feel alone in a world full of people.  People seem to feel used by me.  They also seem to feel like I have let them down.  Even when I make no promises people seem to feel like I have.  I take the blame, but should I shoulder the shame.

The biggest push in mental health today is community services.  I believe people with lived experience should be in the community.  I am wondering if I am alone in having trouble relating to others in this world.  Do I have a unique problem or do more of my fellow sojourners have the same difficulties as I do?

I have a wonderful wife and a handful of family members who communicate with me, but for the most part I am as isolated as I would be in a state institution.  In the community does not mean a damn thing if I can’t learn how to play well with others so I can build healthy relationships in the community.  Patty cannot do it all.

People in the mental health arena speak of natural supports, but it seems a hard concept to define and an even harder concept to make happen.  We need to learn how to help facilitate a spontaneous support system.  By which I mean resulting from a natural impulse, arising from internal forces or causes, indigenous and produced by a natural process.   Only then can I and my fellow sojourners dream of truly being “in the community.”

© Ed Cooper, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

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