One wild and Precious Life.

At the Good Friday service at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, one of the speakers read from “The Summer day” a poem by Mary Oliver  It really stuck with me and if you want to read it here’s the link: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html .  I had heard it before but hearing it then was just the right time.  She wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I had one of those long, drawn out Presbytery meetings today.  They are always difficult for me and since our Presbytery is stretched out so far geographically, I’ve made the choice to attend only the ones I can drive to on my own.  This means I only attend perhaps two out of four each year.  This one was particularly difficult because there was an issue before the Presbytery with which I felt rather strongly . I decided this past weekend to write a short statement and speak today.

It almost felt as if God was giving me the words to say.  I didn’t want to speak there because it stresses me out terribly. Yet, I couldn’t ignore that pull inside of me.  So I wrote something.  The words came which was great.  I practiced it a little bit because I’m not one of those preachers who can preach without practicing.  I knew that my words weren’t really supposed to be a sermon but I thought I would say them anyway.

I chose to wear moon earrings that a friend of mine made for me because the image of the moon always gives me strength.  I don’t as a rule wear dangle earrings whenever I speak but I decided this time, I needed anything that would remind me to stay calm.

The day started out with me taking Sparky to Doggie Daycare.  It’s a new location so I had to use my GPS.  I then saw the highway was backed up going back so I decided to try going to the meeting a different way.  My GPS took me the long way but I got there to the meeting just fine.  When I arrived, I had to “rest my brain” by putting in my ear plugs and sitting in the car for a few minutes.  Driving even more than 40 minutes tires me out.

So when I felt ready to enter the building I did.  As usual, it was crowded and noisy.  I don’t do well in those environments but I managed to get through it.  I sat in the front so I could concentrate on the proceedings.  What I didn’t bargain for, was the moderator’s lack of moderating skills.  She kept confusing Roberts Rules of Orders and seemed unsure.  I know I wouldn’t want to try and moderate this group.  I was nervous enough just by speaking for 1 1/2 minutes! I felt for her because she’s was called to a very difficult job and I know this only too well.  However, folks stepped forward to help her and in the end, it worked out.  God truyly is a great God!

Never the less, I found myself getting angry inside at all the shenanigans.  The only thing I could think of to do was to step out for a few minutes, put in my ear plugs and “rest my brain”  So that is what I did.  I’ve stopped worrying what folks think of me when they see me sitting in a corner somewhere with my eyes closed and my ear plugs in.  I returned to the meeting when my emotions were better under control.

What did I find when I returned?  The same stuff!  Again, I lasted as long as I could but I decided I’d better just get out of there and come back after lunch.  So I went to my car, put the seat back and rested for a few minutes.  I pulled out my Android and my lunch and munched happily away.

I did, however, remember that Bills and Overtures had said anyone who wanted to speak about one of the overtures, could meet with them.  I decided this was a good thing for me to do.  Shoot, I had spent time writing my little speech and I wanted to say it!  I think God was with me because I was able to locate folks who knew where the committee was meeting so I went there.  I was early so again, I put in my ear plugs, closed my eyes and rested my brain in the quiet room.

After saying my little spiel and then hearing everyone’s comments at the meeting, I changed my view on the amendment. I had written my little spiel in favor of the overture so I adjusted it a little.  I then went back to the meeting in progress.  This time I sat in the back of the auditorium so I could freely roll my eyes.  I figured I would speak if I felt the spirit moving inside.  If not, I wouldn’t.

A funny thing happened.  I acted like a lot of ministers at Presbytery meetings. I think they talk just so they can hear themselves talk!  I wanted to say my little spiel even though I didn’t think it would change anyone’s mind.  So when the time came, I spoke.  It went fine like it always is when I speak.  I had gone through all my anxiety for what amounted to nothing.

After the meeting, I struggled with my feelings.  Did I really hear God moving in my spirit and telling me to speak or was I only hearing my own voice?  On the way out, I shared my concerns with a minister friend and she said something interesting.  She alluded to her Quaker siblings and how they are always talking about feeling God’s Spirit within them.  Perhaps God was moving in a way that I didn’t yet understand.

I’ve thought about her words often since the meeting.  Did I misunderstand God’s voice?  I’ve come to the conclusion now that I did not.  Michael and I are doing several presentations on brain injury to law enforcement professionals as well as some other folks.  We’ve done two and I was a nervous wreck for the first one.  It’s funny because Michael is doing the bulk of it and  I’m only adding my personal survivor stories. He should be the one filled with anxiety! The first one went well and we were asked to do another.  I stressed over this one a little less than the first.  So now we are going to do a third one on May 1. 

This experience today, helped me see that I still can speak.  Oh, I can’t remember the words as well and I worry that I’m going to mess up but so far, it’s been okay. The same with the brain injury presentations.

 So what am I going to do with my one, wild and precious life?  I’m not going to waste it by being filled with anxiety!  Tomorrow I was supposed to deliver vegetables from GCPC’s garden to a friend who has a low income and cannot afford to buy them.  Instead, I made the necessary calls and someone has agreed to do it for me. So I plan to drink good coffee, write in my journal and read the New York Times.  I might even work out in the yard! So I’m going to still be responsible but I’m going to enjoy this life God has given me.  After all, this is the only life I have and I don’t want to waste it.

Scars

This past Sunday was the first Sunday after Easter.  When I went to Grace Covenant Presbyterian the picture on the left was on the cover of the bulletin.  I looked at it and thought, ” what does a little girl ready to climb a ladder into heaven have to do with Easter?”  When I read the quote from Pope John Paul II underneath, I was more confused. “Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and hallelujahah is our song.”  When I heard Kristy Farber’s sermon on Thomas in John 20:19-31, I understood.

She asks, “One question we may sit with is, how are we to celebrate God’s resurrecting power when the world around us appears so broken?”  She continues, “Even when we spend time, money and energy trying to help those in need, it often leaves us wondering if our feeble attempts have made a difference.”

I can relate to her words.  Sometimes I get frustrated and angry with myself when I see so much need in this world and how little I am able to do.  Right now, I’m involved with organizing two different things that I believe are very important in this world. No one else has agreed to organize them so I’ve decided to do it.   Oorganizing is one of my weaknesses.  It stresses me out and makes me anxious. But I’ve thought it through and made a choice to go forward with them.  

In dealing with this stress, I’ve realized that because I’m a perfectionist, I put more stress on myself than others put on me. This is forcing me to tell myself as a former therapist of mine suggested, to just stop.  It doesn’t matter if either one comes out perfect.  It is not even in my control.  I do like to be in control of things. However, I’m not in control just like none of us is in control.  I had no control of the car when it crashed into me.  I’m also not in control of my double vision or of my current hand difficulties. (I probably will have to have hand surgery again – I’ll write more about this later.)  

In her sermon, Kristy tells the story of a group of undergrads who took mission trips to Haiti. The students were astounded by the joyfulness of the children there.  They just couldn’t understand it.  Kristy writes, “Resurrection is life coming out of death.  New life and new hope.  Thomas looks for joy, hope, peace – not in a clear, unblemished form.  He needs to see and to touch resurrection in the midst of brokenness.” 

Tomorrow I have a Brainstormers support group meeting.  The location is close to me but one of the members is going to pick me up on the way there.  I will walk the block to the main road where she will meet me in a parking lot.  Another member of the group picked me up this way before but she got all confused with the directions so I gave this other person clear directions.  It turns out she knows the location but laughed and said if she wasn’t familiar with it, she would have become confused as well. (spatial orientation)

So like the children in Haiti, we could laugh about our scars together.  I read my favorite passage of scripture again today in Isaiah 43.  I read this passage all the time and am always filled with hope.  “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing.” 

Living with a traumatic brain injury means constantly finding ” a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  (Isaiah 43:19) I refuse to abandon myself to despair.  I am one of the Easter people and hallelujah is my song.  

How do you remind yourself that you are one of the Easter people?  How do you refuse to abandon yourself to despair?  I write in my journal, swim laps or work in the garden.  I also give myself days when I don’t get anything done.  Feel free to comment here or email me directly puffer61@gmail.com

        

 

Tuesday of Holy Week

Ed Hays in the Lenten Labyrinth for Tuesday of Holy Week writes of Jesus words in Matthew 17:24: “You must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” He suggests we actually have two crosses to bear.  Besides the revolutionary cross of Christ of bringing justice and peace to the world,  we also have a cross of personal revolution.

In this reflection he tells the story of a professional soccer player in Madrid, whose whole life was playing soccer.  Hays writes, “He was presented with a cross of transformation in the form of a car accident which paralyzed him from the waist down for a year and a half. This accident ruined his soccer-playing career and devasted him.  In rehab, a nurse brought him a guitar in the hospital  He began playing it and singing. His creative chemistry with his cross made Julio Iglesias an international celebrity who has gifted the world with the beauty of his music”

When I read this about him, I thought of the many folks I know who are still paralyzed from the waist down or have other disabilities.  This is an uplifting story as are the other ones I’ve heard (Itzhak Perlman) but my question is, “What about all the people who are living with disabilities who have no “special” talent like singing or playing the violin?

My question for myself is, “I still have these two crosses to carry.  How can I carry them?   Not someone else with greater skills but me.  Plain, average me.” 

 My question for you is, “How can you carry them?  If you have a TBI or other disability, how can you work help bring justice to this world?  How has your challenges brought about a personal transformation?”  Feel free to comment here (commenting instructions are on the upper right) or contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com I still am in the process of setting up this blog with a service where commenting is easier.  I need to bite the bullet and read my “WordPress for Dummies” book!