Reflections on frailty, strength and Grace
I have struggled this spring/summer with my health. One thing led to another, went through a battery of tests, tried to muddle through it. It turns out that I had two lumps removed from my colon. At first I breathed a sigh of relief - they seemed innocuous. My doctor insisted the lab go back and look again.... and the cancer was there. Right in the beginning stages... but there. My medical folks and I got together. Radiation should do it. But after 6 weeks, things looked inconclusive, so it was 2 weeks of chemo. I kept it to myself for the most part, until the hair went.
My strength bottomed out, my spirits drooped and I had the unmitigated gall to think I could handle most of the fall out myself. I kept my friends, family out of the loop until the worst of the physical side effects were done with.
In hindsight, that was a self-centered road.... me who enlists others to pitch in when someone is down..... not surrendering enough to ask for help!
Thank God we have the ability to learn..... and if I have learned anything, it is that a Christian cannot be a Christian in solitary. Isolated, not allowing others to minister, attempting to maintain a facade of OK. Love - in community as in an intimate context - is made up of give AND take.
How does this relate to church? Well, I think it has to do with how we pastor each other, how we look out for each other, how important it is to have a lay pastoral team in a worshiping congregation. It got me to thinking about how best to organize and support a team to make home, hospital, nursing home visits, phone calls, notes through the good ole US Postal system, etc. Whether we do it in person or do it online or by fax.... heck, the contact is heartening for both the helped and the helper.
A chunk of my daily prayer time the last nearly 10 days has been directed toward the gulf coast, but then the Spirit focused my intention toward the infirm, the elderly, the handicapped, those who live alone. The weakest at risk human population.
I recall the photos of semi conscious, insulin-dependent diabetics being lifted dead-weight onto stretchers, taken via helicopter from rooftops to be cared for. They needed help and they knew it. Now these precious to the Lord are being assisted to get the help they need. I contrasted this to my arrogant, strangely self-centered, off-putting behavior.
We each have a white flag. It takes grace to know when to use it. I have developed a cranial 5 o'clock shadow. At this point, sort of a texture between brushed corduroy and velcro that has some drag when I try to turn my head on the pillow at night.
Thank you God for showing me the truth of your love and our truest healthy interdependence on each other. Thank you family, friends & good people of St. Barts. Thank you to all those whose hearts have been touched by disasters - in their own home town or in Katrina's wake - who give of time, treasure and talent to assist others. Whether on the giving or receiving end, it is what we are called to do as Christians - with God's help.