Prepare Ye The Way!

For the Love of the Spirit


(The following is an abridgment of a brochure put out by VOCAL.  Visit their site for more in-depth information.   You may find links to their website in the article below and a link in the sidebar on the right.)

VOCAL is a nonprofit organization of people in mental health recovery.

They are a statewide (Virginia) community, support network, social change movement and self-help education program.  Their organization was created by and for people who have experienced emotional turbulence, mental health crisis, or extreme states of consciousness (commonly called mental illness.)

VOCAL focuses on creating broad-scale social change as well as change in the lives of individuals.  They work to transform the mental health system — and to create alternatives to the system — by promoting mental health recovery, self-determination and peer leadership.

As people who have experienced mental illness, they work to create programs that respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people, regardless of their current or past mental state, diagnosis, or use of medications.

VOCAL does

  • Advocacy
  • Community Building
  • Recovery Education, and
  • Grassroots Programs

Their Values

  • They value and work for the full human rights and self-determination of every individual, regardless of mental state or diagnosis.
  • They encourage individual input into creating a truly healing mental health system.
  • They value each person’s individual process of mental health recovery.
  • They value the worth and dignity of all people.

Hope and Healing

VOCAL has opened up a world of wellness that I never knew existed.  I have grown exponentially since the moment I walked into it — opening myself to become a conduit to share the hope of mental health recovery and healing beyond my wildest dreams.  (Robin H., Roanoke Virginia)



P.O. Box 1248

Charlottesville, VA. 22902




February 4, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Avoiding Avoiding Suffering

No.  I didn’t stutter.

You could hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, this is something you are free to do and is in accord with your nature, but perhaps precisely this ‘holding back’ is the only suffering that you might be able to avoid. (Franz Kafka)

It is human nature to recoil and try to protect our sensibilities from sufferings all around us;

  • War
  • Hunger
  • Disease
  • Sexual Violence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Crime
  • Addiction

Did I miss anything?  I am sure I did.  The world is full of suffering of all sorts and these are just off the top of my head.  Feel free to add to this list.

Is it enough?  Sure, it is.  It is more than enough.

Do you avoid thinking about it?  I do it more often than I wish.

It’s human nature.  We are constantly bombarded by magnitudes of suffering in the world.  We are pelted by it from the street corners and the television news.  We have 24-hour news channels devoted to bringing it directly into our living rooms and right into our faces.  During the commercials we see children with cancer, in foreign countries without clean water or adequate nutrition, and animals neglected and abused.

We avert our eyes.  We try to shut out the sounds.

Why?  It’s simple enough.  It hurts to see it.  Seeing it forces us to face it.

Facing it forces us to acknowledge the suffering that surrounds us the entire world around.

Acknowledging it takes us out of our comfort zone and makes us wonder why a loving God would permit it.

Why does God permit it?

God doesn’t permit it!

We do!

We permit it — by avoiding it.  By turning our backs and shielding our eyes and stopping our ears, we permit it.  God has us as his human agents here on earth.  He gave us his Son who in turn gave us his Holy Spirit and filled us with the love of that Spirit to do unto others as we ourselves would have done unto us.

If we love our brothers and sisters then we will cloth them when they are naked.  We will feed them when they are are hungry.  We will shelter them when they are homeless.  We will care for them when they are sick, and we will visit them when they are imprisoned.

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me.’  (Matthew 25:40 )

It has been said that all evil needs to prosper is for good people to do nothing.  I am not fooling myself or trying to fool you into thinking that we will eliminate human suffering.  I am not fooling myself or trying to fool you into thinking that human action can ever bring an end to all the ills, evils, and sufferings of the world.  That will come only when the end of time comes.  May it come soon!

But I am telling you, as Kafka said, that in spite all your trying to avoid the gross tragedies and sufferings you will still be confronted by them.  If you insulate yourself so completely that they are totally out of sight, then your spirit will still be so convicted by the horrors that this world throws up at you that you will be unable to avoid personal suffering because of your “holding back.”  Sooner or later you will suffer —guaranteed.

So look at the suffering of the world.  Turn on the news.  Look into the eyes of a homeless person.  Pray!  Dear God, pray!

Then when you are finished watching and listening and praying, get up off your couch and get out and involve yourself in doing something to relieve the suffering in whatever small or large way you can.  Get up off your wallet and donate to individuals who are dedicating their time and efforts to ease the pain that is all around them.

You don’t have to give money or material.  You just have to care enough to reach out to those less fortunate and suffering.  You need to suffer with them.  Listen please!  If you suffer with those suffering you reduce the suffering of all.

Cook a meal.  Sit and listen while someone tells you of their sufferings.  Be there for someone.

Carry the word of love.  Love someone who thinks they are unlovable.

That is what this ministry and this blog is doing.

I am reaching out to my readers with the love of God and exhorting you to reach out to others.  I  go out into the streets and carry the love of God to the People of the Streets.  I volunteer my time to a local organization that provides Peer Support for those who are mentally ill.

Help Love of the Spirit in its ministry to carry out its missions and goals.  Go to the CONTACT page and donate through the address you find there.  The ministry will use all donations to relieve suffering and feelings of Lovelessness and Loneliness.  It will use all donations to carry the love of God, and, God willing, will one day grow to reach more.

Be a Torchbearer of the Light

In Christ’s Love, Michael

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Thing Leads to Another

In On Our Own I discussed an organization here in Charlottesville that provides a recovery model for mental illness based on self-help, or what is colloquially called the Consumer Movement.  It is also called the Psychiatric-Survivors Movement and the Consumer-Survivor Movement.

I discussed beginning to volunteer as a Mentor at the local center and gave details from their website and links to their site.

Since the article here was published on January 5, I have put in my first day as a volunteer at the center and have been designated Webmaster for the center’s site.  There are difficulties at present establishing administrative and editorial of the site but the issue is being resolved by Executive Director J. Rose Farber, and I expect that the difficulties will be resolved by the middle of next week.

It is difficult to describe how fulfilling it is to me to volunteer at the site.  In addition to being of service of others, I am also served by the Peer Support paradigm.  All members (which I count myself blessed to be one) of On Our Own of Charlottesville, Inc., are Consumers of mental health services in a peer support environment.  I myself have been a survivor of alcoholism and depression and am greatly benefited by being able to share my difficulties, past and present, with others who are able to emphasize and understand from a first hand perspective.  No individual is above another in importance or position.  We are all equals, and our participation is intended to benefit all including ourselves.

As I continue to grow in this system in general and at this center in particular, I will continue to give my readers here updates.

I have started an ambitious project of writing an academic paper on the recovery model and will publish it in one form or another when it is complete.  I will give updates on the progress of that project here as well.

I will soon be adding links in the sidebar relative to the Consumer Movement as my work researching the subject proceeds.

Stay Tuned.

In Christ’s Love, Michael

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Our Own


I recently finished preliminary training and begun working as a Mentor at On Our Own of charlottesville.  They are linked here and in the sidebar to the right.

I have visited On Our Own for three years.  First to see what they were about and lately to work there to assist in helping to assist others in their journey and life struggles with mental health.  They call those who use On Our Own and themselves “Consumers.”  A consumer is anyone who after identifying a need for assistance in mental health issues becomes someone who uses that assistance in the way or ways that they are best able.

On Our Own is a group of consumers helping consumers.  Directors, Staff, Volunteers, Mentors and anyone else who is a consumer of metal health assistance in general and the services available through On Our Own in particular assist those who come in seeking assistance.  It is for this reason they call what they do Peer Support.

A consumer does not have to be associated with On Our Own in any official form to receive assistance and services through the organization.  Any person may walk in the front door and receive assistance if they simply ask.  Membership is not required, but membership provides the consumer with certain help and avenues of assistance not otherwise available to the casual visitor.

I am a member and a consumer.  I struggled for decades with alcoholism and depression.  The way I benefit from On Our Own is by sharing in feedback from fellow members and by giving to others through whatever gifts I have at my disposal.  These things help me immensely by allowing me to be of service to others in the furtherance of my spiritual calling.   The training I went through was to be a Mentor.

The following is a verbatim copy from the On Our Own website which I strongly urge you to visit.  On Our Own is a federally recognized non profit organization.  As you are motivated by the Spirit please donate to

123 4th Street NW

Charlottesville, VA  22903


They accept goods and/or food in addition to financial donations.

Begin copy text

Our Mission: To provide mutual support, self-help, advocacy, education, information and referral services for individuals who acknowledge having significant problems in their lives due to mental illness and who are seeking to take  responsibility for their own growth and recovery while supporting each other. We actively advocate for positive change within the traditional mental health system.

Our Purpose:

  • To build a cohesive community of mental health consumers and providers.
  • To actively support the journey of recovery.
  • To always give service to our community and our peers.
  • To provide access to information and services.
  • To promote a caring, warm atmosphere where recovery is attainable.

Peer Participation: All members and staff have been consumers of mental health services at different points on their own path to recovery. We are peers in what is known as a the consumer movement. Ones level of participation is determined by his or her own goals. Individuals choose forms of assistance he or she need as they take part in the center”s community of support and safety.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Social Justice | , , , , | 3 Comments