Every New Arrival (Lazarus)


In mid August I spent some time in a local Behavioral Health Hospital due to the sudden onset of severe panic attacks.  I continue to write about it as a way of processing the experience.
Every new arrival receives the same tour – 
here's your room, your room mate.
This is the nurses’ station, the meds window; 
here's the bathroom and shower,
a towel and washcloth, a blanket, 
all bleached white.  

The newest is heavyset, balding, 
with stringy dark hair.  He wears jeans
and hospital-issue paper top, 
the kind they hand out in the ER
when the clothes you wore upon arrival 
were torn or bloodstained. 
He carries the rest of his belongings 
in a brown paper bag tucked under one arm. 

A shower is the first order of business 
for every new arrival, then meds. 
Standing behind him at the window 
I notice the band aids on his wrists.
No one is ready for eye contact 
on their first day, each one jittery 
like a wild animal, trapped and wary. 

But on the day I will be discharged
he shows up in Group and tells us all his name.   
His words come slow like his voice has gotten lost 
somewhere deep within his body, a small sound that fell 
deep into a chasm of fear or pain or despair, but now 
he speaks, sitting at the end of the table, 
every syllable a step toward resurrection.

He is Lazarus, we all are, here in this tomb 
of dying and learning to live again,
and the therapist at the opposite end 
of the table calls us out each by name. 

This post is linked with Playdates With God  and Unforced Rhythms.


  1. This is such heart-wrenching stuff, Kelly. So real. So important. May God bless you as you continue to share with us things that we may not see without your eyes.

    1. Thank you Lisa, for reading and commenting, for honoring the story I have to tell.

  2. Kelly, I just love you. And I am Lazarus, too, in a different tomb, perhaps, but just as dead, and just as in need of being called out. And grateful for the One who loves me deeply enough to do the calling. That God has crossed my path with yours for this season is a rich blessing, friend.

    1. Aw, :) Thanks Beth. I'm so thankful the One who loves us Never stops calling.

  3. Kelly, isn't that how Jesus heals each of us--by calling our names?

    So powerful--thank you for your bravery.

  4. My husband is a group therapist - so you can imagine how much this hits home for me, Kelly. There is a resurrection happening there, isn't there? I love that you have eyes to see it.

    1. Ah, Kelli, I didn't realize that. Such sacred work. Thanks for popping over. :)