Today I am participating in Bonnie Gray’s “beloved brews” linkup with this post. I have seen this idea at a number of sites, the idea of picking a word for the year. My time frame doesn’t go that far, so I’ll pick a word that I think will work for the near future. ADJUST
On November 1, I posted a short piece called “little things I can still do”
I can sit.
I can lie down.
I can talk while sitting or lying.
Sitting, I can write letters to my nieces
Who lost their father this past summer.
Sitting, I can save a booth at the café for a friend
Who first takes her children to school.
Lying down, I can nap with my young granddaughter
So my wife can practice or get some exercise.
Lying down, I can pray, thinking of all those I know
With love in my heart.
Sitting or lying, I can make sure there are no unsaid words
To my daughters, after adolescence.
Sitting or lying down, I can express love for my wife
Who gives me all I could ever need.
And I can require nothing of others that isn’t necessary.
It sobering for me to read this now. Most of this is no longer true. My sitting is limited to extremely soft easy chairs, which is not conducive to writing letters. I no longer spend my mornings in the café so I can no longer save the booth for my friend, I will have to arrange a home visit if I ever want to see her again. And my lying down time is governed more by my needs than by my granddaughters.
And something I hadn’t anticipated, is that my mind is no longer my own. For most of my life, I spent a great deal of time in my head. I wrote music, operas, oratorios, concertos, etc. I am quite comfortable being alone with my thoughts. But now I am on an oxycodone patch to control the pain from metastasized prostate cancer. My mind goes off to various random places when I lie down. That is a big loss for me. ‘
But I can still express love for my wife and daughters, and I have found a way to have fun with my older granddaughter while lying down at her house.
And my wife found a comfortable chair where I can sit for a while with my computer, and do some writing, and some reading. So I came upon a web site that invited me to join in a conversation by writing about my faith journey, using the prompt for this week of picking a word for the year.
I have learned that the only word that will work for me is ADJUST. Every day, I have to assess who I am, what I am capable of, and how I can continue on in my life choices given my present physical state. Today that means writing this post. Yesterday it was different.
Last year I wrote a post that outlined my goals for 2014. One of the goals was to continue to invest in my church, to continue active involvement in committees and especially to continue singing in the choir. There was another goal which I barely mentioned, because it seemed pretty unrealistic. That goal was visit my church’s sister community in Nicaragua one more time – this time with members of my extended family.
On Friday, I will be going to Nicaragua with 16 other family members. Sunday was to be a commissioning for this trip. And I knew it might be the last time I cold sing in the choir.
When I woke up, I checked out the various painful parts of my body to see if I could still get out of bed, and ascertained that I could. But when I stood up, I was dizzy for about one minute before I could move. Putting on my clothes with my wife’s help was a bit more stressful than usual. By the time I got downstairs, I needed a bowl to receive the contents of my stomach. It was not stomach related, but stress – my body telling me I had exceeded my physical capacity.
So I had to slow down. I had to adjust. I took extra time to stand up after I had eaten – waited until I was stable, and took an extra minute to walk to the car of a neighbor choir member. At church, a friend who helps with the children came out with the slider chair the mothers use for nursing and told me to use that chair for the service. It was a real gift. I stayed put for the choir rehearsal – the choir arranged themselves around me. I realized I would not be able to move at any time during the service. The piano was moved, and chairs near me were moved, so that the commissioning could be done with me sitting where I was and not moving, and when the choir sang, I stayed put, and though I was a bit removed from the bass section, it went fine. I adjusted, and others adjusted.
After church I would ask someone near me to tell people with whom I wanted to talk, to come over. There were two seminarians who had just returned from a trip to the Arizona/Mexico border. I have friends who are very involved in this work. I had a wonderful talk with this couple. Another visiting couple came over who had just returned from Nicaragua. We found connections.
I asked to talk to my minister. He had taken a rather bold step in being understanding of the young people who had been arrested for stopping traffic during commuter hours on one of the main arteries in Boston. The press had been unmerciful on this group of “anarchists and occupiers.” I wanted to tell him that although I didn’t know of my daughters involvement in this activity, I knew that she certainly knew many who were involved, and that her involvement in this movement had come out of her education at this church. She had become much more aware of world politics after her trips to Nicaragua, and her Jr High church group had taken a civil rights pilgrimage to the south. It was a conversation of mutual support. I appreciated his stepping out on a limb, and he appreciated knowing that the limb was part of the tree of our church.
So I had a wonderful day at church – I sang in the choir, I was commissioned, I had wonderful conversations after church – even though I never got up. I ascertained that morning that I couldn’t stand up and do anything of importance, so I didn’t, and others adjusted.
I have other schemes. My oncologist used to go to Honduras before it became unsafe, so while I am in Nicaragua I want to make arrangements for my doctor and his group to be able to come to the region of my sister community in Nicaragua. That’s mainly what we talked about at my last check up. I don’t have any idea how I will do on the trip other than my plan to stay in a hammock and visit with those who come by. But in the past two years I have learned that I can continue faithfully living my life as a child of God, even though I don’t know what that will mean from day to day.