Archive for August, 2007

It’s one thing to delete someone from your address book or mailing list because they’re no longer interested or you don’t keep in touch anymore.

It feels entirely different to hit that delete button when it’s because they’ve passed away…

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Sacred Moments

“Two of the most holy moments,” the chaplin said quietly as we all sat around Elmer, “are when we take our first breath, and when we take our last.”

A few moments later he opened Elmer’s Bible to read one of Elmer’s favorite passages. It was Psalm 139.

Tears came to my eyes as he read. Elmer there in the bed, his breathing ever slower, his face ever paler. Minutes away from his final breath. The tears came as I recalled witnessing another holy moment.

Nearly 10 years ago. Standing near another hospital bed (this one in the hospital rather than our home). I watched as my best friend gave birth to her daughter. We were seniors in high school. I ended up spending the night. And I pulled out the Gideon’s Bible that was there in the room and I read to baby Kendra one of my favorite passages. Psalm 139.

Elmer passed quietly this evening with us in the room. I witnessed his last breath. I felt the presence of God. It was indeed a holy moment.

So that’s two. I’ve witnessed a first breath. And I’ve witnessed a final breath. And the words of Psalm 139 encased them both.

“O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me…
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well…
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be…”

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I feel like the boy who cried wolf. Only instead of lying for attention, there really was a wolf – he just went away and didn’t harm the sheep…

Elmer is Dad’s best friend. They grew up together in an orphanage-like-school. In 2000 we moved him back to PA into his own apartment. In 2002 he ended up in the hospital. They said it was the end and wouldn’t release him unless he had a place to go – so we moved him in with us. He bounced back. In 2003 he began Hospice care.

We keep joking that Elmer has 9 lives. There have been maybe a half dozen times when he went into the VA or a hospice room (for extra meds) and they told us he wouldn’t be around much longer – only for him to bounce back. In 2006 they flew me home for a week from California – 2 months before graduating (and moving home) – because he wasn’t supposed to last. Same last January. Same last spring. They told us he’d be gone before our trip to the beach. Well, not only did we take him to the beach with us, but that was like 3 months ago…

So what is happening now doesn’t feel real. Like any minute now he’s gonna pull through and be back to his “same old” self. And if it feels that way to me, I guess I can’t blame the others. But it was awkward going to church this morning. We’ve been pretty much staying (at least one of us) in his room beside his chair since yesterday. So instead of all of us going to church today, I ran over before service. To cancel my class tonight and to touch base with people there.

And I kept getting these glazed looks. Like “we’ve heard this before.” I tried to describe how Elmer is doing and how it’s different this time. But it’s difficult when people look at you and you know they’re thinking “you said it was the end many times before.” It’s a strange place to be.

I guess it’s possible he would bounce back again. But this time seems so different. And how do you deal? If you tell yourself it’s not the end, you may miss out on being there and saying goodbye (or other things that need said). Yet if you beleive that it is the end and tell everyone that it is, you don’t know how to respond (emotionally or socially) if it isn’t. Then again, I’m really not sure how to act or respond at all right now… death is a strange creature.

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Not so easy…

There’s a great little article over at Crosswalk.com referencing a “Christian-ized” EASY button t-shirt. It made me think of one of my all-time favorite quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“…grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

Just one more reason I often have issues with materials produced by the Christian subculture. A life of following Jesus is not always easy. And I certainly can’t picture Jesus hanging on the cross going “that was easy.”

Like Bonhoeffer says, what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us!

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Picture Me

This seems a bit funny, coming after the previous post. But it’s one I was thinking of last weekend in Virgina Beach. There are several “life scenarios” in which I can picture myself.

• I can see myself owning a little bed and breakfast on the New England coast, having a little tea room there and taking portraits at random intervals (more hobby than profession).

• I can see myself married and being a housewife, being active in my church with mime/drama/arts related ministries and teaching.

• I can see myself always single, living in a cute apartment flat above a mime/dance studio I operate.

• I can see myself teaching college regularly on arts/theology related topics.

• I can see myself working with churches, ministry teams and ministry leaders in the areas of mime/arts & theology on a regular basis.

• I can see myself writing books and devotionals and Bible studies.

Thing is, I can’t do it all. As much as I want to, there just are not enough hours in the day. And I doubt I’m meant to “do it all.” I am also not picturing myself touring widely with mime performance, being a big-name speaker/authority on arts theology or saving the world. I’m okay with making a small impact on those around me. Probably in part because I know that even the smallest impact can make an important difference – at least to someone. I don’t need power or wealth or loads of applause. And I think these are good things.

I pray that no matter where God leads, I will be faithful to follow. I like to dabble in so many things. I have so many things unfnished. So I also pray that I am wise in discerning priorities, disciplined in time management and able to see what it is I need to be doing when.

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God created me to teach mime and theology/arts. I know it.

And this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. Or been this clear. But here it is again.

I had my 5th Mime and Movement session of the summer. 3 students tonight. (Plus taping for my promo dvd…) And I’ve been out of condition – sprained my ankle earlier in the week – and was really nervous about tonight’s lesson and piece.

And it was a little chaotic and we didn’t really finish the piece. But it was good. It was right. I was doing what I am made to do.

Ironically. (I mean, with the fibro and all).

On the way there I was thinking that if I didn’t have enough interest to form a team here at the church, that it would be okay. And even now, after the good night and feeling like that is what I am supposed to be doing – it would still be okay. Because as long as I am obedient to Him, God is going to lead me to do what He created me for. What He wants me to do.

It’s hard to describe the feeling. Of knowing “this is it.” That I am in the right place and I am doing the right thing. Like Covey’s “burning yes.” It’s like all those hot hazy days we had earlier this week and then there is a big, powerful storm and it resonates in your soul. And after the storm passes the air is cool and crisp and clean. And your nose tingles with the fresh after-rain newness that is all around. And the clouds roll back and the haze is gone and the air is crisp and clear so that the sky looks like a sheet of velvet sprinkled with diamonds. Clarity. Rightness.

And even now that the adrenaline has subsided and the pain is escalating from the workout I put my body through (and the sprained ankle), it is still good. It is still right. And God is good. And I trust Him.

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And yes, I had to laugh.

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