A Confession, Some Questions, and Maybe Some Answers

1.  I am a terrible gift-picker-outer.  My biggest challenge is the retired man I live with.  He needs nothing, absolutely nothing.  And anything he wants, he gets for himself when he wants it.  He doesn’t do delayed gratification.  So Valentine’s Day paralyzed me.  All creativity left my brain.  And I had nothing.

Well, I did offer to make him stuffed cabbage for dinner, but he said, “Oh no, that’s too much trouble. You don’t need to do that.  I’ll fix something.”  Sigh.

To make this worse, he’s good at gifts.  For Valentine’s Day, he gave me a box of Chapel Hill toffee/dark chocolate candy from Whole Foods.  Let me explain: We met and fell in love in Chapel Hill while we were both in school at UNC.  And Heath Bar is my all-time favorite candy and Ben and Jerry’s flavor.  His gift makes you go “Awww”, doesn’t it?  I know–I’m a lucky woman.

2.  Do you worry about wrinkles from smiling?  This is from a blog, “The Daily Round”, that I read:

…a British woman, now 50, who has avoided smiling “for the last 40 years…to ward off wrinkles.” She says she didn’t smile when her child was born, nor at family celebrations or gatherings with friends, insisting her lack of facial wrinkles has made these efforts worthwhile.

Do I read this right? She stopped smiling at 10 YEARS OLD to prevent wrinkles? How do you even do that–not smile?  Does she have any friends? Does her family come around her?  I need more information.  This story has been stuck in my brain for days.

3.  Someone at church Sunday told me I have “fortitude.”  She said I just keep going no matter what.  I googled “fortitude.”  The definition is “strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage.”

I’ve wondered about “resilience” lately, too.  I found 2 definitions.  (1) The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune.  (2) The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed.  The second describes how I feel some days.

Where do fortitude and resilience come from?

4.  We talked about the Celtic term “thin places” in Sunday School last week.  They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine.  My favorite thin place is beside the ocean, one of those places where spirituality and science overlap.

The ocean generates negative ions.

According to mounting research, there really is something in the air at the beach. Because of the constant crashing and movement of the waves, the beach contains high levels of negative ions. Negative ions appear to have a positive effect on health and mood. They are produced when moving water, wind, and radiation break apart air molecules. What’s left is an oxygen molecule with an extra electron.

High concentrations of negatively charged ions have long been thought to affect the way you feel and there’s now supporting evidence they can boost mood, ease depression, and even improve physical health. Negative ions can also be found in high concentrations at waterfalls, in the mountains, and immediately after a summer rain storm. Even your shower or the fountain in the park produces negative ions.

These special air particles are actually biologically active when they enter the body, yet how they work is still unknown.

Indoor environments tend to have very low levels of negative ions. Our modern lifestyle is to thank for that. Computers, electrical appliances, and air conditioning all contribute to negative ion depletion.

So do negative ions create thin places?  Is God in that extra electron on the oxygen molecule we breathe in?

5.  Asked by a man named Jim in a group with people who are HIV positive:

What if you woke up tomorrow and all you had was what you thanked God for today?

 

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A Turtle Creates a Village

God, I offer myself to You–

to build with me and to do with me as You will.

Relieve me of the bondage of self,

that I may better do Your will.

Take away my difficulties, that victory over them

may bear witness to those I would help

of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life.

May I do Your will always.

(3rd Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous)

I sat quietly with this prayer daily, starting in January, 2005.  It took the place of resolutions.

In late February, 2005, I found an odd lump in my groin.

On April 15, 2005, I was diagnosed with cancer–non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I had 2 malignant lymph nodes, but no symptoms and I felt fine.  After tests, the treatment plan was “watch and wait.” That took a while to accept. God and the doctor and I have “watched and waited” for almost 10 years.  Still no symptoms and no treatments. Dr Sherrill says at each checkup, “It’s still in remission.”

Go back and read that prayer again.  I’ll wait.

I started writing emails to a group of spiritual friends shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer.  I didn’t want to talk about it much, but I wanted people to pray for me and I felt compelled to share what happened and how I dealt with it, including my faith journey.

I’ve written before about being an introvert and a turtle.  When things get hard, I pull into my shell.  I’ve learned, though, that I can invite people in through my writing.  And I often feel pushed to write for this blog by a powerful and irresistible force.  I can resist for a while, but God starts writing in my head and it doesn’t go away.

This piece started forming in my head a couple of weeks ago.  I had cervical fusion surgery on December 2, 2014, to correct a place at the top of my spine that moved to a dangerous position because of damage from my rheumatoid arthritis.  A piece of my spine was impinging on my spinal column at the very top.  A fall or car accident could have ended my ability to breathe.

I’ve had several other surgeries, including a total knee, in the past 10 years, but nothing scared me like this one. It was “a big surgery,” Dr. Pool, the neurosurgeon told us. I asked the retired man I live with the morning of the surgery not to let them keep me alive on a ventilator if things went wrong.

The first couple of weeks after this surgery were very hard–lots of pain. I was grateful to be whole and breathing and alive.

Before the surgery, I started another email list of pray-ers.  And once again I could feel the power of the prayers. I don’t know how to explain that, but I know it’s real. I felt surrounded and encircled by God.

I try to tell God that I’ve fulfilled my 3rd Step Prayer obligations.  10 years is enough of this “take away my difficulties so I can show how God works in my life” stuff.  But more challenges come.

With each surgery, each setback, each test of patience and hope, I learn again that things will change.  And it’s all a bit easier when I remember God is with me. Not everything can be fixed completely. Sometimes it’s just different. Then I figure out how to live with it and keep going as best I can.

If I ever write a memoir, I think I’ll title it “Okay, God, Now What?”

 

 

 

Tapestry

On her mother’s  last day (though no one knew it was her last day), Terry got some help and pushed her mother’s bed out a door and into a garden.  Her mother lived through a decade of dementia and had been actively dying for 2 1/2 weeks with Terry by her side.  It was a beautiful early spring day and a comfortable breeze ruffled through the new blooms.  A robin sang  for them.  A bee buzzed around her mother’s head for a long time.  Terry thinks it was her dead brother, Jimmy.  Betty died outside in the spring garden air that afternoon.

I don’t believe in a God that manipulates us like marionettes.  I do believe God offers us situations and opportunities that can move us in one direction or another and that our choices have consequences, both immediate and long-term.

I like the idea of life as a tapestry.  These words are from “Tapestry,” a Carole King song you can easily find on youtube:

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

On the back side of a tapestry, strings of many colors go every-which-way, knots sit in unexpected places, blank places look bare, strings overlap, and some just hang loose.  On the front side, a beautiful picture emerges.

I was assigned a project, maybe in 6th or 7th grade, to learn about two professions.  I picked teaching and foreign service.  I researched foreign service requirements and options like working in an embassy or for the State Dept in DC.  The work fascinated me, but I remember no encouragement at school or at home for such an ambition.

I expected to be a teacher most of my life.  I enjoyed school and good grades had value in my family.  My parents both taught after college.  I never really knew I had other choices.  What did other girls  who became attorneys or ministers or scientists hear that I did not?

I started taking French in 7th grade and took it all through high school and even took a French literature class (in French) in college.  It came easily for me. I loved the sound of it and all I learned about French culture and way of life.

My college choices came down to UNC and Duke.  UNC=Special Education.  Duke=French.  I was the oldest of 3 kids close together in age.  Our college costs would overlap for years.  I chose UNC, a state school with much lower tuition. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and found a husband.

In the mid-1970’s, in my 20’s, I taught at the Tammy Lynn Center, a private residential and educational facility for the mentally handicapped in Raleigh, NC.  Terry’s brother, Jimmy, who she thinks came to their mother as a bee as she was dying, lived at the Center while I was there and attended the school during the day.  Terry’s parents were among the founders of Tammy Lynn Center and I remember talking with them.  We discovered this surprising connection during a get-to-know-each-other lunch a few years ago.

After our children left home, my husband and I took my dream trip–a week in Paris.  Though I hadn’t spoken French for over 20 years, much came back to me. I bought a necklace from a woman who spoke no English using my memory and my French-English dictionary.  I was fearless!  I fell in love with everything French.  I think I was French in another life.  I went back with my daughters a year later.

I am grateful for each day I have.  Since a cancer diagnosis 9 years ago followed quickly by remission, I danced at both my daughter’s weddings, am blessed with 3 grandchildren nearby and am still happily married to the husband I found at Carolina, though I call him “the-retired-man-I-live-with” now.  I even went back to Paris–alone!

I love and treasure the life I live these days.  My daughters like to spend time with us and willingly share their children with us.  I volunteer at church and with a non-profit that serves those touched by HIV/AIDS.  I’ve been sober for almost 27 years.  I have friends from all parts of this community where we have deep roots. My tapestry is knotty and messy on the back.  The front is beautiful.

But sometimes I wonder…what if I’d taken another path?  Why did no one encourage me to take a different piece of string for my tapestry?  What would it have looked like?

 

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 8:47 am  Comments (15)  
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Table for One

Last Thursday I was co-pilot and navigator for the retired man I live with while we delivered Mobile Meals to home-bound seniors. A few are couples, most are single men who take a while to get to the door. We had to ask at each stop if they needed a meal for Thanksgiving. Over half did, just for one person.

A haunting picture lives in my brain these days: an older man in a white undershirt watching the Macy’s parade eating a reheated Thanksgiving dinner on a metal tv tray (remember those?) with a carton of milk like we had in elementary school.  The meal was delivered about 9:30 Thanksgiving morning by a nice man with a Mobile Meals sign on top of his car.  That picture is slowly breaking my heart.

Every third Thursday of the month, the retired man I live with and I stick a Mobile Meals sign on top of the white Camry and deliver a hot meal sealed in a little black plastic tray (like a Lean Cuisine), mostly to older men living alone but sometimes to a couple still living together or an older woman.  (I’m 61–they are older, not old.) The meals are prepared by Golden Corral and packed in expensive special coolers so they stay hot.  Last Thursday we delivered Salisbury steak, rice, mixed vegetables, hot apple slices, milk, juice, and a peanut butter cookie.  The meals ride in the coolers, one hot, one cold, in the back seat.  They all seem to smell the same, no matter what’s in the tray.

The retired man I live with takes the meals to the front door.  Often the recipient is waiting and opens the door as he approaches.  I wait in the car and put the next address into the GPS.  He gives me a report.  One man must be ex-military–he is always sharply groomed and the part of the apartment visible from the front stoop is clean and tidy.  Last week he didn’t get a meal.  Our sheet says he is in the hospital. Another man’s place smells awful and I can see his baggy, used-to-be-white undershirt as he reaches for the food.  A man who takes care of his wife writes a poem and gives us a copy each month.  His faith spills out on the page.

One person didn’t answer the door last Thursday and we didn’t know if she was in the hospital or visiting family.  We gave that meal to a man standing with a cardboard sign on the corner near Panera, at the Target-PetSmart-Payless Shoes shopping center.  We had no forks or knives, but he gratefully took the food.  “It’s hot!” he said about the food and he smiled and blessed us and said “It’s a good day because God let me get up this morning.” We were quiet for a bit as we drove off.  I don’t think he cared how it smelled.

Once we tried to give a leftover meal to a woman holding a cardboard sign standing on the corner beside Chik Fil-A, not far from the Whole Foods parking lot.  I rolled down my window, asked if she wanted the meal and she asked me what it was. I told her (it was meatloaf, I think) and she said “No.” Not even “No, thanks.” I was speechless. We found a skinny man (a boy?) on another corner and he was hungry and even had his own plastic fork and knife.  He smiled and said, “Thank you!”

Thanksgiving is this week.  We will drive to our daughter’s house in Raleigh and get there around noon.  Our son-in-law will be creating a feast, my daughter will be setting the table with a white tablecloth, china, flowers and candles.  I’ll contribute a casserole dish of corn pudding and homemade Blueberry Cranberry Sauce.  We’ll visit with some of our son-in-law’s relatives that we only see once or twice a year and get in line to play with our almost-2-year-old granddaughter.  My daughter wants us to go around the table and share memories of my brother who died this summer.  He was always part of our holidays.

Before we go to Raleigh, the retired man I live with and I will gather with many other volunteers in the parking lot at the Greensboro Coliseum to pick up meals to deliver to clients of Triad Health Project. I’m on the Board of Directors for this non-profit that serves people who are HIV positive.  The Mobile Meals volunteers will be there, too, in another line.

Two restaurant owners started over 20 years ago fixing Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wanted one .  The project has grown into a massive community volunteer effort.  So many people have offered to help that they have a waiting list for volunteers! Meals will also be served on real plates at tables with real tablecloths and centerpieces a 2 churches (one is our church) and Urban Ministry’s Potter House.  Church vans with volunteer drivers will make a couple of stops downtown and carry folks to the places with food and then take them back downtown nurtured and fed.

Our own Thanksgiving feast is easier to swallow when we know so many others are eating well, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 10:45 am  Comments (8)  
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Best Birthday Ever!

Follow your bliss!

Pursue that which gives you joy!

I struggled with the bliss thing for years after I heard Oprah’s advice.  “Look back at your childhood–what did you most enjoy?”  I liked reading a book up in a tree, alone.  I can’t climb a tree anymore, but I still love to read and be alone.  I think I’m supposed to give more to the world than that.

I found a new joy several years ago at my first writing workshop.  (Thank you Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South–rcwms.com.)  I started this blog after a couple of workshops and I journal whenever the urge hits.  Maybe one day all the bits and pieces will evolve into a memoir.  I just know it’s fun.

A few weeks go my older daughter found a Groupon Getaway deal for 3 nights in a 2-bedroom condo at Atlantic Beach, NC.  I suggested that she, her sister, their 3 kids and I go for a couple of days in March for my birthday.  Both girls loved the idea and soon we had a reservation.

We had a plan. My younger daughter, her daughter Adaline (who is 3 now) and her son Atticus (who is almost 1), and I would drive in one car.  Maggie (14 months) and her mom would take their car and we would caravan.

The closer the time came for the trip, the more ways I imagined that it could go bad.  I started with the 4.5 hour drive (at best!) from Greensboro.  What if one of the babies wouldn’t stop crying?  And the bed situation in the condo would require cooperation and compromise from two moms who often debate who gets less sleep.  I wondered if either of them would back out.  I wondered if I’d be sane afterward.  Would we still like each other?

We were not able to caravan.  Work demands and leaving from two different cities, one closer to the beach than the other, killed that plan.  Each car could stop as needed.  “Never wake a sleeping baby.”  Even if you really, really need to go to the bathroom.

Adaline and Atticus both slept the first 2 hours of our drive!  I thanked God and our travel angels and just kept driving.  We stopped at a Hardees, used the facilities, sat inside and ate and pacified the kids with french fries.  We did what we had to do.  Forgive me, nutrtion-conscious friends.

On we drove.  We figured out we could put a pillowcase in the window to block the sun so Adaline rode content in her car seat, playing with an electronic kid-size computer-like thing and listening to our music.  Atticus sucked on french fries (forgive me, again) and played with toys and his electronic baby-size computer-like thing. Thank you whoever bought them these electronic toys!  We made it in 5 hours with some fussing from Atticus for the last 30 minutes or so.

Maggie and her mom had a 3-hour drive.  Maggie fussed and cried for the first half of the trip and then fell asleep.  Her mom did not have fun.  Maybe Maggie needed french fries and a baby-size computer-like thing.

The moms worked out the bed situation, we got everyone fed as needed, including lunch in a restaurant where they took our order at our table and brought us our food–no counters or paper wrapped sandwiches!.

After we played on the beach Saturday afternoon, all 3 kids (naked) and both daughters (in swimming suits) go into the big jacuzzi bathtub.  I sat on the toilet lid and took pictures.  We laughed and laughed and soaked up the joy amid the bubbles.

The trip home was easier for Maggie and her mom and the group in my car rode well, too.  The kids were all exhausted so, once again, “Never wake a sleeping baby” was our motto.

Now I know what “bliss’ means.  And where I can find joy.

I am so grateful.

Published in: on March 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm  Comments (14)  
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Vicks VapoRub and Dark Chocolate

I smeared Vick’s VapoRub on my chest and the bottoms of my feet, put on a pair of heavy socks, laid my head down on 2 pillows and tried to go to sleep.  Before bedtime I tried lemon/ginger tea with honey, straight teaspoons of honey, enough mentholyptus cough drops to make me anxious about my next dentist appointment, and several squares of dark chocolate.

Why not?

I had a bad cough from pneumonia, even after the antibiotic kicked in and I felt some better.  No cough medicine helped.

I googled People’s Pharmacy, a public radio show that originates down the road in Chapel Hill.  It’s a safe site for natural, old-wives-tale-type remedies.  I like to just wander through their website. Here is the link I found: People’s Pharmacy Cough Remedies.

That 1st night of Vick’s and ginger and chocolate I took no cough medicine.  I slept for 10 hours without much coughing.  My daughters with babies were jealous.  I tried all the remedies the next evening, too.  I coughed some.  Third night, I was no better than before the home remedies.  Did it work at all?  I’m really grateful for that one good night.

People cough everywhere I go.  We should all agree not to leave our houses for 2 weeks.  Buy groceries like it’s going to snow a foot or more. (That’s a BIG deal in NC.) Have on hand whatever you’re addicted to.  I think snow calls for Doritos and ice cream, myself.  Stock up on books and movies.  Then at a specific time on a specific day, the whole country shuts down.  We could all rest and get well and stop trading germs around.

Obviously I write as a 60-year old woman who lives in a big house with a retired man who takes naps and can cook.  I would never have suggested this when we had 2 little kids.  I don’t know what we’d do about the potential for child and spousal abuse.

Ok, I need to rethink this.  Maybe I’ll just quarantine myself.  You all do what you want, but don’t come to my house.

PS:  Vicks VapoRub was invented right here in Greensboro, NC, where I live.  Cool, huh?  Click here for more odd uses.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm  Comments (7)  
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Movin’ On

I don’t do resolutions anymore.  They’re always the same anyway.  Eat better.  Move my body more.  Take time for myself.  Stand up straight and do right.  Don’t lie.  Don’t cheat.  Don’t be afraid.

I do reflect on the year just past, though.

January 11, 2012:  Our 2nd grandchild (Margaret Jane–Maggie) was born.

February 25, 2012 (and all year long!):  Our first grandchild (Adaline) was 2.

April 2, 2012:  Our 3rd grandchild (Atticus), Adaline’s little brother, was born.

March and September, 2012:  Maggie had 2 heart surgeries and is all fixed and just like any other delightful almost-one-year-old.  (Thank you, Dr. Mill, at UNC Children’s Hospital!)

April-December 31, 2012 (and forever):  Adaline and Atticus pushed their parents to new levels of love, patience, and sleep deprivation.

January 1-December 31, 2012 (and as long as we live):  We loved them all.

2012 stretched and challenged me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So what were the gifts in this full year?

I have 3 healthy, happy, amazing grandchildren!  Christmas 2011 we had one.  Now we have 3.  Mind boggling and tiring and such fun, all at the same time.

I finally forgave myself for not being a “good enough” mother.  My daughters showed me that I WAS a good enough mom and that each day with two  little ones was hard.  A wound I carried in my heart for a long time starting healing.

I have 2 amazing, strong, loving daughters who are much better mothers than I was.  Luckily, we all mostly agree on how to parent.  My younger daughter, mother of 2, coaches her older sister and tells her, “It will get better.”

My husband and I learned to be more gentle with each other.  He is a good father and the best grandfather.  We are aware of time passing and our bodies changing and a drive to miss nothing!  We take care of each other.

I watch how we help our girls (both are close by) and I am painfully aware that my parents were never able to give me the same support and presence.  Now I know how much they missed and I am sad for all of us.

I value friends (and a therapist) who let me be honest and vulnerable.  I cannot do the hard stuff alone.  I tried that this year…again…and it didn’t work…again.

In 2012, I lost a sense of balance between my needs and my family’s needs.  In 2013, I want to do better.  I want to take care of myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I want to be alive for a long time!

I want to keep learning and growing and stretching and trying new things.  I want to play with my grandchildren.  Their laughs make everything else in the world go away and I am in the moment.  That’s the best gift of all.

I am very grateful.  Many times I had the sense that all of us were held in God’s (roomy) lap.  We were surrounded by prayers and we felt the strength and support and love of our community.

I’m not the same person I was on January 1, 2012.  Are you?  Is anyone?

Disabled

I asked the Social Security Administration of the US government to label me “disabled.”  The application process left me drained and depressed.

I listed my “Physical and Mental Conditions,” 6 of them.  I listed my “Doctors and Other Healthcare Professionals,” 5 of them.  I listed my “Medicines'”, 7 prescriptions.

The paralegal at the attorney’s office helped me with the last section, “Remarks.”  She asked questions, I talked about what all I can’t do, she suggested more specific words and she typed it into the application.  Here is what she wrote:

I can only walk 5-10 minutes due to joint deformities due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I do not have an even, steady gait and use a cane at times as my doctor recommended.  This has caused me to have intermittent back aches.  I cannot stand long for the same reason.  I drop things a lot due to the weakness and deformities in my hands and fingers and cannot lift more than 10 pounds and even then I have to use both hands.  I have loss of dexterity and some of the joints are frozen in my hands.  I can’t do cross stitch anymore, either.  I cook much less now as I can’t safely lift heavy pots and pans nor stand very long.  I have trouble changing the sheets on the bed and I can’t clean my bathroom.  Even though I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma in the past, I no longer have any limitations or symptoms for that.  I started having Vertigo a few weeks ago and my heads spins when it hits.  In my latest blood work I was anemic.  I am fatigued easily now.

Wouldn’t you be depressed?  I was upset for a couple of days.  Then I listed things I CAN do.

I am resilient and strong and creatively adaptable.

I thank my husband for helping me when I ask and never complaining.  (Although he said one time if I have another knee replacement he might not be my primary caregiver.  The first one was rough.)  I thank him for not offering to help all the time.  He sits back and watches me struggle with tasks of daily living.  He says okay when I want to travel by myself (even the time after the cancer diagnosis when I told him I wanted to go to Paris by myself, which I did in 2006.)  I know he worries, but he doesn’t burden me with those thoughts.

I am grateful for my daughters who cheer me on, give me shit when that’s appropriate and worry together behind my back. I hope I model fierce, not stupid, independence.

I am grateful for my grandchildren,  my joy and reasons to take care of myself.  They know me only as I am today. I can’t lift them up by myself, though I can hold a sleeping baby for hours and cuddle on the couch really well.  I can’t change diapers anymore (hee hee) and everyone is okay with that.

I thank God for my family, friends and therapist who keep me functional and medical science for the medications and doctors and nurses who ease my discomfort.

I recognize that the people I know who are HIV positive teach me about acceptance, letting go, the power of faith, and living with pain in all its forms.

I am who I am because of my challenges, my limitations, and the lessons to be learned from them.

The letter from the Social Security Administration came last week.  “You are entitled to monthly disability benefits.  We found that you became disabled under our rules on March 31, 2009.”  (I wasn’t disabled on March 29?)

I shouted to my husband, “I qualified for disability!”  “Congratulations,” he said and we high-fived.

Is that something to celebrate?

I choose, most of the time, to celebrate and be proud of what I can do today.  I certainly get frustrated and upset at times.  I say bad words and even let myself cry a bit.  That’s just okay, as my friend Jan says.

We all have choices.  I choose to keep going, laugh as much as possible, and try to ask for help when it’s wise to do so.

The US Government says I am disabled.  I say, not really.  Who ya gonna believe?

Have You a Wound to Heal?

(A poem by Macrina Wiederkehr)

Once there was a wound

It was no ordinary wound

It was my wound

We had lived together long.

I yearned to be free of this wound

I wanted the bleeding to stop

Yet if the truth be known

I felt a strange kind of  gratitude

for this wound

It had made me

tremendously open to grace

vulnerable to God’s mercy.

A beautiful believing in me

    that I have named Faith

    kept growing, daring me

    to reach for what I could not see.

This wound had made me open.

I was ready for grace

And so one day, I reached.

There I was thick in the crowd

    bleeding and believing

    and I reached.

At first I reached

    for what I could see

    the fringe of a garment,

But my reaching didn’t stop there

    for Someone reached back into me.

A grace I couldn’t see

    flowed through me.

A power I didn’t understand

    began to fill the depths of me.

Trembling I was called forth

    to claim my wholeness.

The bleeding had left me.

The believing remained

And strange as this may sound

I have never lost my gratitude

    for the wound

    that made me so open

    to grace.

(From Prayers of Your Heart:  Prayers and Reflections)

Published in: on November 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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Amma on the Move

1.  I drove at least 100 miles in SC and saw only one Obama yard sign.  I think Romney’s got SC.

2.  Myrtle Beach dozes at the end of October.  I saw lots of big hotel/resort complexes with nearly empty parking decks.  I’m glad I wasn’t reading a Stephen King novel.

3.  I drove 472 miles round trip by myself for a few days of solitude at the beach.  I tried to detach and disconnect from my iPhone and laptop. CNN captured me with pictures and news from Hurricane Sandy.  I turned them off some of the time, but not enough.  I read a whole book in 2 days, though.

4.  I enjoyed filling up my Prius next to a big Chevy truck.  South Carolina gas costs a lot less than North Carolina gas.  NC has smoother roads.  I’ll pay the extra tax.

5.  The airport operated from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm daily.  (I thought airports on the east coast were shut down.) I was under the flight path for some big jets.  They came in bunches of 3-4 in a row.  Did you know Myrtle Beach has an international airport?

6.  Thanks to Yelp and my GPS, I found a nice natural food store in Myrtle Beach–Bay Naturals Healthy Market and Kitchen.

7.  You can find a beachware store with cheap t-shirts, hoodies and beach towels on almost every block of King’s Highway–Wings, Whales or Eagles across the street from each for miles.  No left turns necessary.  They all look the same.  Do they all belong to one company?

8.  I wanted to stop at “Fat Man’s Dream Dogs and Cream”, but it wasn’t open yet.  “Mammy’s Kitchen” was open down the road.  I didn’t stop.

9.  All hotel rooms should have a cushy comfortable chair, preferably with an ottoman.  My room had a small table with 2 straight chairs and 2 beds to sit on.  My back and my rear end forced me to alternate and I was never really comfortable until I turned off the light to sleep.

10. Black Ankle Road is an exit in NC on Hwy 220.  I looked up the origin of that one on Wikipedia:

The origin of the name Black Ankle is from the late 1920s or early 1930s when gold was discovered in 1928 near Franklin Mountain. Many people came to the area to try to make their fortune in the mine or to be laborers and make a decent living. About once a week, in the evenings after the working day was over, the miners would all climb on the back of a truck or trailer and ride to Star, Ether or Steeds to restock on supplies they may need to get them through another week. In the area where the Franklin Mountain (Blackankle Gold Mine) is located, the soil is very dark, rich and fertile. These miners almost always were shoeless when they went into town and the black dirt from the area, mixed with a little water, made their feet discolored and dark. Everywhere the miners went, people would see the feet of the visitors and say “Here comes the blackanklers.” It was soon after the discovery of gold that Black Ankle, from the miners with dirty feet, got its name.

Who knew?

11.  When I got home, the retired man I live with was watching CNN and using Google maps on his iPad to locate Hoboken, NJ.  Imagine saying that 5 or 10 years ago.

12.  Independent travel is a fun adventure.  Home is safe and warm and has my bed and pillow and the retired man I live with.  I’m grateful for both.

Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm  Comments (2)  
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