Dancing in the Rain

href=”https://nogginnotions.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/dancing-in-the-rain.jpg”>Dancing in the rain

My cognitive therapist told me I need to make sure I don’t use too much cognitive energy in a day or I will be tired and unable to function very well the next.   I must schedule my day so that I allow my brain to rest cognitively. This means doing things like listening to music, working in the garden, and swimming, playing around on Facebook or taking a walk with Sparky.

I have a personality that always wants to improve on whatever I do. For example due to my hand injury, I haven’t been able to work in the front yard for two years so it is overgrown and a bit messy. Instead of simply working in the garden by pulling weeds or grooming the plants, yesterday I spent time thinking about how I wanted things to be. While it’s true I need to plan and organize, it doesn’t need to be done on the same day I’m planning other things for this is when cognitive overload overwhelms me.

Today I’ve been tired and not able to think very clearly. Life isn’t about being overloaded and tired all the time especially since the only time limits I have are self-imposed. As I continue working on the book and the garden, I’ll try to remember that life is short. I need to stop and dance in the rain.

Pay Attention

June 7
Underneath the picture on last Sunday’s bulletin at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (above) was a familiar quote by Mary Oliver. “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

It was an appropriate quote for the day since it was Mark Ramsey’s last Sunday. Many of us are having difficulty letting him go to another church for GCPC is stronger now because of his leadership. When I first began attending in 2004, I noticed everything was so perfect and organized. It played right into my own issues of perfectionism and for this reason; it often was a tense place for me.   Over the years, this has changed which is a good thing since I’m trying so hard to get out of being so perfectionistic.

On his last Sunday, Kristy and Mark did one of their dialogue sermons that I love. They reminded us “we need to be able – like Jesus – to discover awe every day, in ordinary things, by paying attention.” This hit me because sometimes I like many other brain injury survivors, pay attention to what I cannot do. This keeps us from being awed by the world around us and by what is still possible which is a lot! (Even if often, it doesn’t feel like that.)

In the sermon, Kristy told a story about a gruff, retired member who’s “heart was deep, and his patience – incredibly thin.” He often grumbled about nothing getting done quickly and how the church was ineffectual. He suggested he be put in charge and then things would change.

One day, he had a car accident and incurred severe injuries. He came back to church as quickly as he could with “the same gruff attitude. Almost.” Apparently, something happened after that accident that changed him. “His gruff became more jovial. His view of the church more gracious.” When asked to serve on the Session that spring, he turned it down. He wanted to just keep working with the kids at the tutoring center. Kristy said, “What he once desperately wanted – to exercise power and authority – he found he didn’t need.”

I couldn’t help but think of myself. I recently let go of a leadership role as well as lessen other responsibilities that weren’t feeding my soul. As a result, I have time to do things that I love such as work outside in the yard. Several years ago, I decided to get rid of all the grass in our small front yard and replace it with plants. For the past two years, I haven’t been able to work outside due to my right hand difficulties so the weeds have overtaken it. Plus we had work done on our water pipes so much of the ground had to be dug up. As a result, many of the plants died so I’m starting somewhat with a clean slate.

I spent the morning outside working and it was fun. It occurred to me, if I hadn’t decided to lessen some responsibilities that were not energizing; I would not have time to do this work. I’m trying not to use my right hand whenever possible so as not to injure it further and as a result, I work very slowly. Plus, I’m a slow worker anyway so it’s going to take a long time to get it done.

I know I need to do things to give back to my community and serve God directly but for now, this is okay. I will continue to “let go” and “pay attention” to where God is leading me. That’s all any of us can do.

“Into the Wild”

Since I attended the Summer Institute for Theology and Disability last week in Atlanta, I decided not to sing in the choir at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. I wouldn’t have gone to church at all but it was Mark Ramsey’s last solo sermon before he begins serving a church in Austin Texas and I didn’t want to miss it.

I do hate sitting with the choir and always looking at the backs of worship leaders’ heads so it was nice to see everyone’s face. At the reception, Kristy Farber the other minister at Grace said that Mark’s sermon was a “greatest hits” kind of sermon. This was true but I needed to hear some of his greatest hits!

While I don’t agree with him that being in the wilderness is not the exception but rather the rule, I appreciated his sermon on Exodus 16:1-12. I could be wrong though because I do seem to spend a lot of time in the wilderness. Perhaps others do as well. (Read sermon here: rhttp://storage.cloversites.com/gracecovenantpresbyterianchurch1/documents/sr-31May15-alt.pdf)

He also said wilderness times are extreme times. “Highs are higher and lows are lower. Joy is richer, and pain is more intense.” Again, this isn’t true for me for when I’m in the wilderness all I see is darkness and I feel no joy. It may be that my wilderness times happen when I’m depressed which makes these times bleak and lonely but when I’m there, all I can do is repeat over and over again that God is with me.

bulliten May 31n[1]As Flannery O’Connor says, “I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.” Sometimes I need to close both eyes and simply remember what God has done for me in the past for even squinting my eye doesn’t help!   In any event, Mark was right when he said, “In the wilderness, God strips…and God provides. That means we have to learn new things, new ways, we have to walk down new paths.” He calls this a wilderness gift.

Mark’s favorite thing about the word Manna is the literal translation which is, what is it? “Every morning families would go out and gather a bowl of what is it? They would prepare it as creatively as they could, but in the wilderness, there weren’t a lot of options. Presumably, there was no ‘what is it’ helper” and on he went. (You may wish to listen here for his delivery is excellent: http://www.gcpcusa.org/#/the-message )

He said “…the people of God were nourished by a question, not nourished by answers… but by a question: What is it? What is it, God that you are doing? What is it that you are making us into? What is it you are asking of us? This is the question that kept them alive in the wilderness.”

It seems I’m always asking God for help through the wilderness. Perhaps my questions are keeping me alive! I often think God gets impatient with all my questions, my moaning and my groaning. Perhaps She does but Scripture is full of stories about people who are just like me. We’re searching for a way through the wilderness. As Mark often has said over the years “keep open to the wonder of faith, keep nimble to move where God is moving, keep yearning for the large, deep world God is giving us….and leave all the rest to God.”

This is what I try and will always try, to do. Stop worrying and leave all the rest to God.