Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sun Sermon...

After a week filled with sharing the pain of others about whom I care
deeply...after some times of soul-searching and sadness and the
Sense of walking in the dark, trying to feel my way, at times unable
to see the light at all, this afternoon's sunshine was a precious and
beautiful gift. I sat on my back deck, soaking it in...absorbing both
the healing and beneficial Vitamin D and the warm and healing of the
sun's rays themselves, reminding me of the ever-presence of the
healing presence of the One Who Loves. I could almost feel the
warmth soaking into my body and spirit...could almost feel the
healing of the spirit which was happening for and to me.

And that's the way it is, isn't it... so very often in life. We go along
convinced that it- whatever the "it" is- all depends on us...that we
must have the solution and the strength, the courage and the
Conviction, the wherewithal and stick-to-itiveness...when, in reality,
the healing and strength, faith and conviction come from a Source
far beyond us...a Power whose depth and breadth we cannot even
begin to comprehend. I call this Power, this Source "God"...others call
it by different names...but it is that Source we can tap into...should
tap into daily because- despite what we so often tell ourselves- the
solution to our problems and difficulties and illnesses does not lie
solely within us. It lies in a strength above and beyond... in, with, and
under, we Lutherans like to say...a power and connection which holds
us and comforts us and never, ever lets us go.

We churchy types call this "grace"...a gift freely given and there
only for us to acknowledge and accept. We don't have to DO anything
to get it or deserve it... indeed there is nothing we CAN do. This
Entity...Power...Source I call God pours it out upon us...upon each
and every one of God's children- which means all of us, you know.
And all we have to do is open our hands and hearts and lives and
receive the gift. How cool is that? Only we want to do it ourselves
(how often we sound like three-year-olds, don't we?) We act like
it all depends on us, like we're the ones in charge. And that's when
the lights go out and we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark,
stubbing our toes and uttering words which would curl our mother's
hair.

How much we need reminders. How much I needed that beautiful,
warm, and healing sun today to be just that "tap on the shoulder"
for me, telling me that the ones I love, the ones who are
struggling, the ones facing difficult choices and decisions in the
weeks and months ahead, are firmly in the hands of One who loves
them far, far more than I do. And that my job...my only job...is to
stay open and aware of the ways in which I can bring the love of
this loving God in my frail human flesh...and then, to DO IT. The
Sermon of the day preached to me by beautiful, healing, holy
Brother Sun.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Our Way Rejoicing...


















October 10, 2014...a date which will forever be written in my mind
and heart...a date on which a thought-filled and justice-minded
judge struck down North Carolina's infamous Amendment One,
which had prohibited same-sex marriages. What a time of rejoicing
for my gay and lesbian friends, for all those who have worked so
hard for justice and equality for all people under the law.

I have long pondered about the so-called "Defense of Marriage
Act", better known as DOMA...about why so many of my hetero-
sexual sisters and brothers feel that acknowledging the right of
same-sex couples to marry would in any way threaten their own.
But, then again, I guess I've lived long enough to realize that we
human beings are easily threatened and disturbed by anything
or anyone we see as DIFFERENT from us... anything which is
outside of our carefully-established and comfortable frame of
reference, which knocks our worldview out-of-kilter.

Unfortunately, when we cling so tightly to "what has always been"
in the name of morality or religion or politics, we all-too-often step
on, restrict, disrespect the rights of others who hold a different
point of view, who see life through a lens which, for us, holds only
cloudiness.. And we so want to be RIGHT...stamping our feet and
shaking our fists and shouting out about the right-ness of our
position, our thoughts, our beliefs, failing to realize that we are
looking and acting like that temper-tantrum-throwing toddler in aisle
three at Harris Teeter.

For those of us with homosexual friends, family members, church
members, Oct. 10, 2014 will be a day to remember just how long
it has taken to reach this place...this place of equality...this place
of being on truly holy ground for ALL people here in North
Carolina. And all I can say is- from the bottom of my joy-filled
heart- it's about time... and thanks be to God!

Friday, October 3, 2014

October2...Gone for Another Year

Been wondering why my sleep patterns and appetite have been
disturbed the past couple of days...why I just felt kind of "out
of sorts"...and then, today, I realized yesterday was October 2,
a more-than-momentous date in my life.

Thirty-nine years ago on that day, my thirty-seven-year-old
husband died of the leukemia which had overwhelmed his
previously healthy body. It had been exactly one month from
his diagnosis to his death and to say my entire family was
devastated would be understating the effects it had on each
and all of us. My children were seven, nine, and eleven and I
was only thirty-three. October 2, 1975 became a day which
worked its way deep into my psyche, into the innermost parts
of who I was and am.

Fast-forward nine years to south Florida, with a second
marriage and three teenagers and a newly-adopted three-
year-old, when I found a lump in my right breast and, on
October 2, underwent surgery in Boca Raton. I was only
forty-two, had already lost one aunt to breast cancer, had
another aunt undergoing treatment, and I was more than a
little frightened. But lots of prayers later and bouyed by
the loving care of good friends in our church community,
by the loving support of my family, far and near, by dear
friends around the country, I found the fear leaving and I
gradually became a woman who had once HAD cancer.

However, one of the things I have learned over years of
living is that the body has a memory of its own, even
when the mind is occupied with other things. Thus, my
recent malaise. Another thing I've learned: knowing why
I feel a certain way helps me to deal with it...helps me
to look at it, remember, and then let it slip away like sand
through my fingers, bringing me back firmly and lovingly
to the present...today...October 3. I believe it's called survival.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

This is Health Care?

So, a nurse in the ER at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas noted on the
chart that the patient stated he had just arrived from Liberia, one of
the West African countries at the center of the Ebola epidemic. And
somehow this information was not "transmitted" to the rest of the
medical team treating the man, who was subsequently sent home,
only to return via ambulance two days later, seriously ill. And only
then, ONLY THEN, was the diagnosis made. In the meantime this
man had become contagious, exposing everyone in the household
where he was staying to this potentially deadly virus.

Yes, I'm on a rant about health care in this country. You see, I was
an R.N. back in the seventies- that's the nineteen-seventies- in
a small, not-for-profit community hospital known for its nursing
care. And I can tell you, that lack of transmission of information
would not have happened. No way, no how. We took good
histories and we passed on significant information, perhaps
because we weren't relying on electronic devices to communicate
our findings. We used pen and paper, as well as the telephone
and face-to-face conversations to convey significant facts...like
someone just arriving from a country battling a serious, often-
deadly illness.

And all is this has absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable
Care Act, about whether you're for or against it. It has to do with
the quality of care we are receiving, even at some of the
supposedly best hospitals in this country. Somehow the bottom
line has crept into the delivery of medical care, with for-profit
corporations owning the vast majority of hospitals. And corpor-
ations have stock holders...and CEOs making big salaries...and
contracts with drug and medical supply manufacturers...yet while
costs sky rocket, the actual care provided is of far lower quality
than that provided back in the sixties and seventies and eighties.

My own major quarrel with the supposed health care reform is
that it did not look at why costs have risen so dramatically, with
health care outpacing virtually every other segment of our
society, costwise. Mr. President, members of Congress, you
spoke to, consulted, the wrong people when you were writing the
health care legislation. The people you should have consulted
are the nurses and doctors who were delivering care before the
tadvent of disposable everything...who knew and practiced good
sterile technique...who considered nosocomial infections an
affront to the quality of care they delivered and not just part of
the cost of "doing business". Perhaps these dedicated man and
women could have pointed you in the direction of excellence of
care which depended far more on the skill of the practotioner
than on the latest machinery or electronic gadget.

Don't get me wrong. Medicine has made strides in some areas,
without a doubt. But it has also moved in the direction of doing
expensive tests and procedures which often add nothing to
quality of life and put health care costs through the roof. It's
bottom line stuff again...limiting how long a doctor can spend
with a patient, for example...covering costly tests through
Medicare but failing to cover things which could keep one
healthy like seeing a nutritionist or getting therapeutic
massage or acupuncture.

It's high time we stopped being so defensive and took a look
at how health care is managed in other industrialized
countries- most of whose life expectancies are  higher than
ours, by the way, and most of which place far greater
emphasis on wellness and staying well, maintaining good
health.

Well, time to get down from my soap box and get to bed.
After all, I need those eight hours to stay healthy and well-
and out of a hospital.