Sunday, September 28, 2003

Playing hooky

">I'm playing hooky today. I went to a weekend healing retreat, but left early--came back yesterday evening instead of this afternoon. (I'll blog about that experience later.) I'm taking the day off from everything and just staying home. I'm going to write this, that's been on my heart to write for over a month:

Grace in a golden retriever

I've had Good Old Boy, a golden retriever. for over a year. I'm not certain how old he is---I 'inherited' him from a woman who died. Her family members didn't want to take him and left him, alone and sad, in her back yard.

I took him to the vet as soon as I retrieved him from the soggy yard (we had been having daily deluges of rain). The vet wasn't sure how old GOB was, but gave me an estimate of eight, which I knew to be a conservative estimate, and the dog was probably more like 10. The vet was afraid I'd decide to have GOB put down if I thought he was too old, for GOB had heartworms. GOB survived the heartworm treatment and settled right down to life in my household.

GOB had a little thing on his shoulder, that was at first thought to be a cyst from a tick bite. I kept cleaning the sore and watching it grow bigger. It started weeping fluid. I took GOB back to the vet, and they agreed with me, the thing had to be taken off. The vet performed surgery to remove it. It was cancerous.

I called the next day about picking him up from the clinic, and was told it would be better if GOB spent another day and night there. He was recovering slowly from the anesthetic, and they wanted to keep an eye on him.

I called back the next day. The assistant said I could pick up GOB that afternoon, but he was still recovering slowly. They had given him a shot to perk him up, but he still wasn't getting to his feet. They thought he might do better at home, off the slick tile floor of the clinic.

When I went to get GOB, the vet reiterated this information, but I could see the worry in his eyes. GOB might not ever get back to his feet.

I pulled my car as near the side door as I could, so the vet wouldn't have to carry him so far, but was still 15 yards or so away. The vet staggered out with all 70 pounds of GOB in his arms and sat the dog down gently on the ground. Standing by the car, I called GOB's name. He didn't hear me--he's almost deaf. I called a bit louder, and he heard me.

GOB's head came up and scanned the area. He saw me. With deliberate effort, he drew his four limbs underneath himself and pulled himself to his feet. He had a long, Frankensteinlike series of stitches across one shoulder. Never taking his eyes off me, he started a loping, staggering, sideways run straight to me. The vet's jaw dropped.

GOB nuzzled my hand, went to pee, nuzzled my hand again, went to pee again, came back. I opened the back door of the car for him. The vet tried to help him, but GOB crawled in all by himself before the vet could get his hands around him to lift him into the car.

I have often reflected on that vision of GOB loping toward me.

This is like God's grace. Rushing toward me, to meet me where I am. Rejoicing. Loving me unconditionally and unreservedly, though I know, so undeservedly.

It's humbling.

Every time GOB leans against my legs--his method of making me stop whatever I'm doing and pet him--and looks up at me with those soft brown eyes, I am reminded of God's grace.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Faithfulness in the face of death

"> A quick update--the healing service was amazing. The woman I described in the first posting (I'll call her Mary) made it to the service. Father Dearest, our Rector, is really on when he is on, and he was on Sunday night, with exactly the right, passionate sermon and words of encouragement. We all gathered around Mary and a couple of others who needed prayer and laid hands on them in soaking prayer. The power of God was there.

Mary doesn't have a lot of time left, and she knows it, but she is triumphant in her faith, and in having succeeded in staying with her family for this extra time--and she may have another month or so more than I think, especially after that service. She should have been dead a couple of years ago, according to the doctors. Mary says, "It's all to God's glory."

Each day is precious to her and she is grateful to God for His love and what He's done for her. I can't think of any better witness than this. Mary is the light of a city on a hill.

How many of us could remain so faithful in the face of this adversity?

Sunday, September 21, 2003


Okay, I think you can send comments to me now.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Let me start by saying that I am NOT Church Lady. I drink beer. I cuss (though I'm trying to curb that habit!). I laugh at anything that's truly funny--even if it's a little raunchy. God is no prude (check out the Old Testament), and He has a sense of humor. I get mad, but I don't try to get even any more. I try to be a good Christian, but I'm afraid I'm no Mother Teresa--I make no claim to sainthood, at least of that variety.

That said, I will admit that I'm involved in a lot of church stuff, mostly things that revolve around the healing ministry and pastoral care.

My healing cohort and friend M started facilitating a bereavement support group last week. It's funny how things work out--the day before the group began I talked with a woman I've been praying for and with the past few years. She was in stage 4 cancer and had been given another year or so when I met her. Between prayerful support and her fierce determination to have every moment possible with her husband and young son, she's held on, and even had a huge improvement in her physical condition (her spiritual condition has been strong through it all).

Now, hospice is working with her and they don't give her much more time--another month or six weeks. She said she was a little numb, but she talked matter-of-factly. I asked her to come to the next healing service so we can all lay hands on her and pray. She needs this for her body, soul and spirit.

I know she had been avoiding me, among other people (I spot it 'cause I got it), laying low, licking her wounds, and afraid to face us -- she's afraid she has failed us in some way.

I called her from work--caught her off guard. After our conversation, I went into the bathroom and cried for a minute. I was so angry at that old enemy who comes to steal from us. He's stealing her life, not only from her, but from her family. Her young son will barely remember who she is. But at least he will be old enough to have memories of her.

Lately, I haven't felt that I should pray to keep her here, with us, anymore. There comes a point when continued living becomes a punishment. I've been just praying for God to heal her in the way He knows best.

She's been through all her body can take, yet she will be healed. This I know. She is safe in God's hands. Still, I cried.

A Christian co-worker tried valiantly to cheer me up by getting a Bible and quoting scripture. All good scriptures, but it was a reminder to me that we need to be allowed to experience our grief. (I love this person, though. She was so caring, so sincere in her desire to ease my grief.)

We need to cry when we need to cry. Pain and grief are real in this world. I carried this reminder with me to the bereavement support group the next night.

I have a lot to say (gripe and praise) on a lot of topics, including the church, but those will be for future blogs.

I've been thinking about blogging for months, almost did once before. I've been posting so many comments on other people's blogs I figured it's time to bite the bullet, get over my cowardice, and just do it.

I'll invite comments as soon as I figure out how to get them!

Here are my favorite bloggers (with a big 'thanks'), and there are lots of links to other great sites from theirs:

Real Live Preacher

Le Pretre Noir