I am sitting in the Angel Room watching the birds swoop from the trees to my kitchen window bird feeder. I have to believe they are a harbinger of hope during these poignant times. I believe that the way we respond will make a difference as this plays out, both immediately and in the future, in the micro and macro, and personal and globally I do my best to clear my mind of negative thoughts, open my heart to everyone, and send positive energy.
I’m feeling a little frustrated with my blog server. I add a picture, click ‘post’, and the wrong picture appears—a picture from a recent post, or from my other blog. Ah, you ask: you I have two blogs? Yes, this one, and www.aprayerdiary.net.
Enough about my frustration of misplace photos, enough negativity, enough of the blame game. Hopefully, my blogs are positive, one about silence, solitude, and simplicity, the other about my faith journey.
So, as you continue your day, which could be filled with frustration about the weather, the negative language by the president, blah blah blah, I hope you will stay positive and go out and do something for others, something that will bring peace to them and the world. AMEN
First of all, a update on the various components of my silent, solitude and simple life on this snowy Monday morning.
• Family is doing great: healthy, proactive, positive. I’m very grateful for this.
• Church is doing great. It is one of the most welcoming places I know.
• Friends. Some doing great, but not all. Regardless, they are trying to stay proactive, positive, and faithful as they deal with health and family issues.
Secondly, a few headlines from my world of silence, solitude, and simplicity.
• I’m trying not to get drawn into everyday politics but I must admit it is a challenge not to turn on the T.V. and tune into what I call, ‘My Sources.’
• I give myself an A in reading. This year I’ve read 12 books; only 68 to go to meet my 2019 Goodreads Challenge of 80 books.
• The front room is clear of stuff we don’t want. If we ever decide to move, what’s left can be boxed up in a couple of hours.
• My upcoming trip in April to Italy with my daughter and granddaughter is competing for center stage with all the other good things in my life.
• Every morning I start my day naming five things for which I am grateful. The usual list, which I learned from my mom, holds steady: family, friends, health, life and faith. But there are always others.
I feel mysteriously calm about yesterday’s election results. No, not all of my candidates won, but enough did to make me think that democracy is still at work. It’s not the thinking that brought on the calm, but the realization that not everyone agrees with me, and that’s okay because good is prevailing. I feel hopeful.
My words may sound trite and obvious, but my feelings aren’t. These feelings of relief, acceptance, compassion, and love for all human beings are hard to come by. They are deep and yet light. This morning they got me out for an early walk to appreciate the beauty and freedom of the moment. Very grateful, very hopeful.
During these contentious political times the words Richard Rohr posted last week prompted me to reflect on the tone of this blog and the underlying message I want to convey.
My hope, whenever I speak or write, is to help clear away the impediments to receiving, allowing, trusting, and participating in a foundational Love.
Yes, Richard Rohr, my hope and your hope are similar, but sometimes I think my posts are rather boring and self-involved. The two go together; boring because I don’t tell stories about other people, and self-involved because I only tell stories about myself.
Thus I don’t let you know about the many friends I see in person, talk with on the phone, and keep up with over the internet. On this blog they are pretty much invisible, although their lives, with both joys and concerns, are blessings in helping me lead my life and write about silence, solitude, simplicity.
It would be much easier to share my friends’ stories, and it would be much more interesting for you readers to hear a good story. But as you know, I work hard/struggle not to judge, gossip or speak at another’s expense-- impediments to Love.
Consequently, I’m left with one main character—me. My word choice is self-involvement, but hopefully not self-promotion. I want to share my thoughts as I strive to receive, allow, trust, and participate in love.
Today, May 1, is a day of hope for my second cousin, Mark (age 55), who is having a kidney transplant. I usually don't talk about prayer on this blog, but today I'm breaking my rule.
Please pray for Mark and his donor, and for Kyllee and the young boy who will be receiving the kidney that she is donating on May 2.
This isn't a simple procedure; it simply give Mark life.
Here is what Mark wrote on Face Book
April 4, 2018: I already shared this on the kidney page, but thought I’d share here for people who aren’t connected to that.
We have a transplant date!
Well, two dates actually. Since we are not doing a direct donation (Kyllee to me) but rather a paired exchange (where we swap donors around so everybody gets the best match they can find), my surgery and Kyllee's won't be on the same day. My surgery will be on May 1, and hers will be May 2.
We are not told a whole lot about the rest of the exchange chain, but it must be at least 3 donor/recipient pairs. The kidney I will get will be coming from a 27 year old male who is doing his surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. That's about an hour from here, so the kidney will be in transit only a short time, which is a good thing. So we're very excited to know that.
The real news, at least in my mind, is that Kyllee's recipient will be a 14 year old boy who will be at Cornell for his transplant. The fact that a kid will be able to benefit from this is really moving for me and for Kyllee.
In fact, the longer I've had to think about paired exchange donation, the more I'm convinced it's actually better for the world as a whole than direct donation. Obviously, if a direct donation works, then great. And I understand that some people feel more comfortable with knowing their recipient.
But it seems to me that, if the Kidney Registry is able to match us up with an uknown number of people in a chain, all in a couple of weeks, there must be a large number of mismatched donor/recipient pairs out there who are stuck, waiting only for someone to come along and start the chain that breaks them free. So I encourage everyone, the next time you know about someone who needs a kidney donor, to think about (and more importantly promote) the idea of paired exchange--of being the someone who becomes the key to saving several lives.
In our case, Kyllee was that someone, and now we know that at least one person in the chain is a young person with a long future yet to be decided, who now gets a shot at that future. To think about that kid (and all the other people in the chain and all their loved ones) who will be helped makes my struggles seem less like a burden and more like a gift. Though I could never donate a kidney for obvious reasons, the fact that I'm a part of this chain means that I get to feel at least a part of what that would be like.
So once again, thank you Kyllee for your generosity and selflessness. Thank you also to all our friends and family who have stood by us and encouraged us. And thank you universe for forcing me to reach out for help that is ultimately going to help others as well.
April 21, 2018 I went yesterday for pre-surgical testing and a meeting with the surgeon, and I thought I'd post a bit about what they're planning to do and what I can expect recovery-wise, for those who are interested. I don't expect I'll be doing a lot more posts on this page, seeing as I'll be getting my transplant done a week from Tuesday.
They are not only going to give me a new kidney, they are going to take the old ones out (this is not standard procedure). My kidneys are really big (imagine swallowing a couple of Nerf footballs) and riddled with cysts that sometimes burst and cause me a lot of pain. Getting rid of them will get rid of the gut that I have (I'm vain enough to admit it's troubled me for years that I look much fatter than I am), and will also eliminate problems with bursting cysts. It means I'll be able to return to bicycling once I'm recovered, which has been one of the most disappointing of the things I've had to give up in the last few years (and as a hidden bonus, they will wind up incidentally fixing my umbilical hernia in the process).
But of course this gain does not come without a cost. Because the old kidneys are so big, they're gonna open me up from the bottom of my sternum to just below my belly button, which is a much larger incision than they'd make for just a transplant, and they'll have to jostle more of my insides around. That means that instead of 3-5 days in the hospital I can expect 5-7 days. Not a huge amount longer, but let's face it--any time in the hospital is longer than you want. I'm hoping that because I'm healthy going in my hospital time will be more on the 5 day side, but there's no guarantee.
After I get home, recovery is much like if I'd only done the transplant: No heavy lifting for 4 weeks, no driving until I'm off pain medications, lots of pills, lots of return visits to the hospital for tests (like twice a week for the first couple of weeks, then once a week, then once a month, etc.). With luck, I'll be back to something approximating normal in a couple of months.
It's hard to believe this has all come together, and that we're about to go through yet another life-changing experience. We remain extremely thankful for the generosity of Kyllee, and for the caring of our friends and family. Thank you all so much.
I was glued to the TV on Saturday, riveted by the speeches of those under-age-18 young people. They are going to do it! They are changing the narrative.
Four major shifts were apparent, although let’s face it, these truths are not new ideas. The difference is that these young people spoke with conviction, and yet, within these non-negotiable truths, they are willing to negotiate the details.
1) People are people, all are equal, regardless of race, class or sexual orientation. They expressed the theological truth that God loves everyone; they just did so in secular terms.
2) Gun control is the best way to save people from gun violence. Although they advocate for no guns in schools, they are not anti-gun, nor anti-first amendment.
3) The power of a democracy get expressed at the ballot box. They are committed to voting and to helping others register and get to the polls on election day.
4) Young people don’t want to die; they fear being killed at school or on the street. The March for Life moment is not about pro-choice but about pro-living.
A friend’s daughter-in-law recently received a kidney from her sister. As they say, it was the perfect match. This woman, who spent most of her time in bed before the transplant, is now up and about, walking five miles a day with her new puppy.
For sure, this is a feel-good story, and we can leave it at that. But think about it! For years there was no time for silence, solitude or simplicity, and yet now she can simply embrace silence and solitude, not just physically but mentally and spiritually.
Problems, such as this one, can become all consuming and drown our very being. However, this woman, so I understand, didn’t let that happen to her. Rather than wallowing in self-pity she remained upbeat, allowing hope to flourish and physical healing to occur. Mind/body/spirit in concert. The lesson for us is not rocket science.
My Reading for Compassion project is taking on new titles: Reading for Humility, Reading for Gratitude, Reading as Prayer. How can I not feel compassion, humility, gratitude and prayerful when I read about the poverty and sexism in India or Appalachia?
I am surprise, however, by how centered I feel while reading about these challenging life situations. Sometimes I pause to feel the presence of the Holy, the ineffable. In part, my gratitude is for the grace-filled life I have been given, but it is also for the hope lived out by the protagonists in the stories. That is what humbles me.
To date I’m averaging a book every three days—I have given myself permission to read during the day. In some inexplicable way, I believe I am offering hope to a world fraught with anger, jealousy, bigotry, poverty, and mistrust.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
I have been sharing this poem for close to forty years. First with my kindergarten and first grade students, and then with the adults in my life. Lately it has been my Christmas card, primarily sent over the internet. For me, it is a poem of hope; my hope this December is that it is one of hope for you, too. It is truly ecumenical, speaking all spiritual languages and for all religions.
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