Community is a powerful concept. An authentic community accepts each of its members for who they are … talents and shortcomings as well … celebrating the good times and providing support when we find ourselves in the valleys of life.

Davis & Elkins College is a community. As a result of COVID and several other factors, this semester has presented unique challenges for our students. Struggles with mental health related issues continue to be experienced. We are fortunate to have both our campus-based counseling service as well as community health-based agencies to provide aid and support.

I recall attending a student-led chapel service on campus a while back. The theme revolved around overcoming the stigma far too often attached to mental health illnesses, and the need for the community to provide understanding and support. The guest speaker for the event, an official of the Presbyterian Church, shared a powerful and important message. While acknowledging the challenges on campus and the necessity of understanding mental health illness in the same way we understand other types of illness and disease, he also challenged Christian congregations to de-stigmatize and provide loving support to those suffering from depression and other forms of mental ailments. His words were a balm for our students and the D&E community, and God was in that place.

During that service we sang a song that I recently came across. The lyrics speak to the reality of the human condition. These are the poignant words:

Ev’rybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds to find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

During the hustle, bustle and joy of this holiday season, for some individuals the light is overcome by darkness. I share these song lyrics in the hope that they will be of some help and comfort. My hope and prayer is that each one of us can find and become a part of an authentic community where we will experience acceptance, care and support. All of us bear burdens, and together as a community we can lift one another up when life issues weigh heavily upon us.

With the support of our community and one another … the journey continues.

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College