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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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46 Responses to 662

  1. Caroline Too says:

    I know the feeling…

    trouble is

    my waist is heavier! :roll:


  2. Caroline Too says:

    self deprecation apart…

    it’s a touchingly beautiful cartoon, Jon

  3. Carole says:

    Initial response? Yeuch!

    A moment to absorb the poignancy later :

    Aww! It may be just to illustrate a point. But if it is an expression of the artist’s current mood, I’m stretching out a supportive hand across cyberspace…

  4. Graham says:

    …but maybe it gives you your strength- I really, really distrust ‘shiny happy people’- and you are not one of them. Your blog keeps me going- keep going-great cartoons!

  5. Hayles says:

    This cartoon reminds me of an art work called ‘the miracle to come’ and several others by Mackenzie Thorpe:


    More of his art, in case you’re interested, is at:


    This picture really struck a chord with me, Jon. Thank you. xx

  6. becky says:

    simple yet powerfully spoken.I love how art can express what words sometimes cannot.


  7. Catriona says:

    You have? Then have a cyber hug – holy variety of course.

  8. Pat says:

    You also have a big heart :-)

  9. subo says:

    this one reminds me of how very physically i feel things, sometimes i talk to my bones ‘whats up?’

    i like the way our bodies hold tightly to how we’re feeling, because feelings matter

  10. jonbirch says:

    i know what you mean subo and you’re right. i’ve taken it to crazy levels though. just had 48 hours of non stop adrenalin. could have done without that i have to say.

    okay then pat… a big, heavy heart. :-)

    cheers graham. :-)

    thanks caroline too. :-)

    appreciated becky. :-)

    holy hug enjoyed thanks catriona. :-)

    my carole… what big hands you have! :-)

  11. beckyG says:

    Yeah but you’re not carrying alone – something I tend to forget ALL the time.

  12. émie says:

    *sadsmile* heavy? my heart’s so heavy it’s taken the help of…all my friends to help me carry it and it’s still weighing me down. however, i am greatful that they are here for me and that they love me and have large boxes of tissues :)

  13. Robb says:

    What did shiny happy people do whong? Was it the hand holding? Was that a bridge too far?

  14. jonbirch says:

    here’s to friends with big boxes of tissues, emie!!! hope things lighten soon. :-)

    feels like it, beckyg. feels very isolating and lonely. feels like no one gets it. it’s hard for friends.

  15. beckyG says:

    I hear you bud – I ended up writing about this crapola going on with the Emergent Church crew (the real kicker wasn’t being unfriended but being accused falsely of slander – seems every time here in the States we critique emergent we get accused of slander or libel depending on the format. This tells me emergent church is no longer of God and the spirit has moved on because there’s too much anger and hurt here for this to be blessed by God anymore. – End of mini-rant–sorry)

    As a satirist I have pretty thick skin and can ignore the vast bulk of my hate mail – but somehow this one stung because it came from someone I thought was an actual friend (now I see it was a mirage and I was used for my PR access but that’s another story.) There are some words you should use very carefully (I won’t list the others and slander is one of them. I don’t even keep these words anywhere near me as they’re pure filth. I wasn’t being slanderous but very angry – everything I said was true but as we noted in another panel my method in conveying this wasn’t exactly Christlike.

    Somehow doing my craft help connect me – and I felt better after I submitted the piece but the heavy heart still lingers. I know it’s not clinical depression so medication won’t help – it’s the heart of a artist and that means as you know we have to open up in order to create but that also means we feel EVERYTHING. I can definitely sense others know what I mean. The plus is we get to experience joy at such a profound level it’s unreal.

  16. soniamain says:

    It may be heavy Jon, but your heart is a big heart, one of the most caring, loving hearts I know.

  17. Linus says:

    My sister and i come from different ends of our shared gene pool (hers is the deep end). This means we are different in almost every way. She tends to be straightforward and level headed and emotionally stable. I am convoluted, upside down and tend to experience extremes of high and low.

    I don’t think i’d swap, tho… but sometimes its tempting.

    We are both capable of feeling, caring, loving, getting excited, sad, angry, worried and all the rest, each in our own unique way. But the challenges for us are different.

    For me the challenge is to know how to function as a useful human being. Its no use feeling stuff deeply or getting ridiculously excited about something if you’re incapable of turning that into something useful, such as doing the washing up or having the right words to say or starting the campaign or shouting from the rooftops or knowing when to hug and when not to… God help me turn this big ol’ heavy heart into something useful.

  18. rockingrev says:

    I find it quite hard not to go around with a heavy heart some days. I look around at the state of things or when I have been with someone with cancer or another person who has just become paralysed and I find myself with the psalmist saying, “How long, O God, how long?” When you have a heavy heart it is great ot read the psalms of lament and realise that you can be angry with God.

  19. Carole says:

    So many heavy hearts on one blog… :(

    Linus – define useful for me. Being good in practical situations is great and I love being surrounded by practical people. But the depth that you show even just through what you write here is enormously useful to others. You just do it in a diffent way. It doesn’t make you any less useful.

    I had a friend who was bi-polar but resisted the advice to take medication. She said that if she took anything, it would take the edge off her high moods. And when she was on a high, she flew – as sharp a wit and intellect as I have encountered. It was exhilirating to try to follow her (I usually failed miserably!) I wonder whether she was able to avoid the course of medication in the long term – I suspect not. I think I mention that as a follow on from what BeckyG was saying @14. We don’t often think of deep feeling as being in any way a gift, I think it possible can be but it is a huge burden, too.

  20. Robb says:

    I sing myself to sleep
    A song from the darkest hour
    Secrets I can’t keep
    Inside of the day
    Swing from high to deep
    Extremes of sweet and sour
    Hope that God exists
    I hope I pray

    Drawn by the undertow
    My life is out of control
    I believe this wave will bear my weight
    So let it flow

    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Sit down next to me
    Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
    In sympathy

    Now I’m relieved to hear
    That you’ve been to some far out places
    It’s hard to carry on
    When you feel all alone
    Now I’ve swung back down again
    It’s worse than it was before
    If I hadn’t seen such riches
    I could live with being poor

    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Sit down next to me
    Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
    In sympathy

    Those who feel the breath of sadness
    Sit down next to me
    Those who find they’re touched by madness
    Sit down next to me
    Those who find themselves ridiculous
    Sit down next to me
    In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
    In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
    In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
    In love, in fear, in hate


    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Sit down next to me
    Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
    In sympathy

    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Oh sit down
    Sit down next to me
    Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
    In sympathy


    – James

  21. jonbirch says:

    that’s a great song. esp. the line ‘Those who find themselves ridiculous’ :-)

  22. Caroline Too says:

    a version of St Theresa’s bookmark:

    Let your mind be not disturbed
    Let your heart never fear
    all things pass, God does not change
    Patiently endure

    Steel your heart to keep to the end
    Set your foot to the climb
    Who God owns, He’ll surely provide
    Patiently endure

    And He’ll walk with you all through the night
    And He’ll shelter you all through the storm
    In the desert, He’ll water your soul
    In the loneliness hold on your heart.

    I find that I have to keep reminding myself of that last line. Never ever thought that I’d write a line like “patiently endure”… must be getting old… sigh

  23. Carole says:

    Robb – didn’t see you as a James type. Is there no end to your facets? :)

  24. jonbirch says:

    beautiful, caroline too. :-)

  25. jonbirch says:

    there’s clearly more to robb than meets the ear. :-)

  26. Robb says:

    Just wait until I crack out the plainsong!! I find tone VIIIg particularly pleasing. I suspect that God dwells within VIIIg…

  27. HisGal says:

    G’day Jon!

    So far I’ve not been posting any comments. However REALLY enjoying your cartoons (and the things people write about them) daily; THANK YOU!

    When I saw today’s cartoon, the first thing that came to mind was this poem I once read. I reckon it’s almost a song..Hopefully, you can find somewhat comfort in it..I always do, who knows..you just might as well..

    “On The Wings Of Prayer”

    On the wings of prayer
    our burden takes flight
    and our load of care
    becomes bearably light.
    And our HEAVY HEARTS
    are lifted above,
    to be healed by the balm
    of Gods wonderful love.
    And the tears in our eyes
    are dried by the Hands
    of a loving Father
    Who understands
    all of our fear, our pain and despair
    when we take it to Him
    on the wings of prayer..

  28. dadube says:

    Awww jon – I’m off asbojesus for a couple of weeks as life is so rubbish and I come back to a cartoon that is totally how I feel. Thank heaven its only 5 weeks til I come home to you all…..I need a hug from the man with the biggest heart I know (that’s you btw)

  29. jonbirch says:

    dadube… welcome back… i’m preparing an extra special hug at this moment dadube. see you in 5 weeks. :-)

    thanks hisgal… and welcome. :-)

  30. jonbirch says:

    aaaaaaaah – plainsong. i quite like a bit of plainsong.

  31. Carole says:

    I leurve da plainsong! Takes me to another place. I love Renaissance choral works as well. Especially when sung in old buildings. I don’t understand how people can fail to be moved by it…but many do.

  32. Carole says:

    Welcome back Dadube, star woman. Lovely to have you back. Hope your remaining 5 weeks have wonderful surprises in store and your trip home is worth the wait! xx

  33. soniamain says:

    Dadube,waiting with eager anticipation to see you and skip again, and to meet the beautiful poppy :)

  34. beckyg says:

    18. Carole – I am not about to play amateur shrink but a point of clarification – there is a definite role for pyschiatriatry and drugs as needed – I can have major moods but I don’t get so up or down that I engage in destructive behavior – as heavy as my heart has been this week, I can come on here and feel a bit better. So, I feel down and might say my life sucks, I hate my life at times but I won’t even think about going further. Also, while I can be very distracted at times, I’m able to get out of bed, get dressed and get at least some work done. Conversely, when I’m up, I can have major problems sleeping, get very excited (like a puppy that pees on the rug) but I don’t get where I stay up for days on end, go on binges (shopping, sex, alcohol). AND I’ve been diagnosed and I don’t have a chemical imbalance – so for me, it’s a matter of learning when to keep my body in check through exercise, rest and stimulation with others, so I don’t go ballistic. (I tend to be moodier in the winter as the weather gets me down but I don’t have SAD-I checked.)

    If someone has bona fide symptoms, then they need to get professional help before they crash and burn. BUT they have to come to that realization themselves-the best unless we know them very well AND are prepared for the friendship to end (that’s what happened to me this week), all we can do is pray AND not let ourselves be taken up into their toxic tornado.

    Often folks don’t make this distinction and assume all creatives need drugs – and some creatives don’t want to deal with this ying-yang (I view it as an occupational hazard which hyper sucks at times), so they choose to go on psychotropic meds or self-medicate).

  35. jonbirch says:

    hayles @ 5… sorry, you got trapped in the filter. boo! haha! i think your artist spent more time doing his work… nice one! :-) …oh, and you’re welcome, as always. :-)

  36. I keep forgetting a heavy heart goes with my territory and it always takes me by surprise but here at asbo, where people understand the downs as well as the ups, there’s a safe place. Bless you all…again and again.

  37. Caroline Too says:

    don’t walk to fast away from a heavy heart…

    I wonder if our spirituality suffers from the loss of our ability to lament?

  38. Linus says:

    Agreed CT =]

    Carole, Thank you! very kind [/blush]

    Agreed useful is much more varied than practical. what i meant was that sometimes my “lows” stop me from engaging with people or getting things done (whether practical things or creative things or relational things or whatever) and that is incredibly frustrating, but also a challenge which i am working at. My sis doesn’t generally have those “lows” in the same way, but she has a whole raft of challenges of her own, and a whole raft of things she’s amazing at – we all do.

    The drugs do really work for some people in some circumstances – i know people who they make a huge difference for and i thank God for the positive impact they have in those circumstances. I agree with Becky that there’s also a lot of people who get asked if they want to go on medication when there’s no need in my opinion. It often seems like a first resort when it should come much later down the line.

    Robb i feel like i’m missing out on the plainsong =[ As for sit down, yeah its a good song, and the lyrics seem deeper and wiser every time i come across them.

    I like Sufjan Stevens’ take on loss:

    In the morning when you finally go
    And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
    And the cardinal hits the window

    In the morning in the winter shade
    On the first of March on the holiday
    I thought I saw you breathing

    Oh the glory that the lord has made
    And the complications when I see his face
    In the morning in the window

    Oh the glory when he took our place
    But he took my shoulders and he shook my face
    And he takes and he takes and he takes

  39. Carole says:

    Hey Linus! Aren’t sisters great? I have a fantastic sister who single handedly negotiated her way around social services/medical services etc when my mum was ill and dying. She got her into all the right places at the right times. There is no-one I would rather have fight my corner … a few years back I would have felt all inadequate but now I let her do what she does best and we all benefit. Useless baby sister here came into her own when we were at mum’s death bed and the assorted ‘children’ asked me to say a prayer on their behalf. I was the only one who was sufficiently comfortable to get on with it and they knew that (despite the ribbing I get!) I know from the little chats we have had since that they appreciated me putting the words to what we all wanted to say. Surprising what is of value in the little emotional toolbox that God gives us.

    Oh, and don’t talk to me about the prescribing of drugs which are not needed. I think some doctors just do it to shut people up. Someone very dear to me was prescribed anti-depressants – only went along because the ego-inflated medical student friend pressurized. Of course, the GP was handing them out like smarties. This person has the occasional low mood/moment of anxiety – nothing disabling or dangerous, no suicidal tendencies and just needs a listening ear and an occasional word of reassurance. They finally came to realise they didn’t really need the drugs and they’re fine.

  40. subo says:

    i guess i have a whole mix of thoughts on the drugs v. support.

    1st, I think we are designed to live communally, and our individualistic and competitive society is destructive to us, and sadly some churches have lost some of their skill in being welcoming, accepting and listening places. so i think it’s like trying to live without sunlight, after a while we begin to wonder whats wrong

    2nd, having watched a few people cope with mammoth amounts of emotional pain, and realise the church leaders just weren’t able to see this. so their advocated avoiding drugs at all costs was from a cosy position of not being able to see another’s pain. i kinda get a bit frustrated with the church on this one, would you be so anti drugs for someone suffering from something else, if the pain was equal?

    3rd, I’ve seen people make a huge difference to their mental well-being, by using a mixture of resources, like counselling, support groups and meds, in combination. similarly i use a mix of inhalers, vitamins and exercise to manage my asthma, finding nothing quite enough by itself

    4th, some meds are now very commonly used. I don’t know what the stats are, but an awful lot of people are relying on meds to cope with anxiety and depression. so big respect to all you courageous people who manage these things daily

  41. beckyG says:

    BTW – bI’m NOT anti-drug in the least – I just know they are over prescribed at least here in the United States.

    Case in point – a friend of mine who was a very conservative Catholic got suicidal about ten years ago. I finally got her to go see a psychiatrist when I noted that she was suffering from the mental equivalent of a broken leg – neither one will heal if left unattended. She got on meds until she stablized and then worked to on stress reducers and changed her diet. She didn’t have a clinical mental illness (in those cases drugs are needed in the same way one uses drugs to manage say diabetes). But she had let her health go to the point where she hit that low point where she came close to killing herself.

    Those of us like me who can get down (and then up) should have ourselves tested to be sure that we don’t have a chemical imbalance – and if we don’t then we need to take care of ourselves or we’ll end up like my friend. (Easier said than done I know).

    We seem to have two extremes – the Christians who say pray away the pain and those who think anytime you’re going through a dark night of the soul, you need Prozac.

  42. gilly says:

    this is a beautiful image
    thank you

  43. Robb says:

    BeckyG – the problem we have here in the UK (to use your analogy) is that doctors have so little training in mental health that they give you crutches and tell you that you are a cripple.

    Often it is so hard to get a referal to a councillor (sp?) or a psychologist because the doctor thinks that the pills are all that is needed.

    As for Xians who say that you should be happy because of Jesus, just pray harder, they are part of the problem not the solution. When you feel as though you can’t pray that is depressing on top if the depression!

  44. beckyG says:

    Robb – We have a similar scenario in the United States – with managed health care, there’s a strong shift towards a pharmacological approach because that’s the cheapest way to handle the problem. Assuming you have insurance (and the number of uninsured Americans is growing like crazy), the extreme vast majority of health care insurance plans don’t provide for adequate mental health counseling.

    Some Christian publishers are coming out with books noting that mental illness doesn’t equate sin – while I find some of these books lacking, there’s starting to be a shift here in recognizing that one can see a shrink and still be spiritual. (Don’t get me started on “biblical counseling” which uses the bible and prayer as the sole healing devices – as noted, when you have a clinical depression that just makes you feel worse when you pray and nothing changes.)

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