Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Where I am now

I’d say it doesn’t happen often
but you, and I, know the truth of it.

I ask God,
or the Universe,
some existential question and, 
with time and prayer,
 the answer comes pouring in –
like water through the foundation of my house 
into the basement.

I’m not sure how, 
from where or when it seeps in;
I just know it does!

At least I was paying attention 
and noticed it -
before the answer 
dried up,
NOT like the water in my basement!

My question
how hard is 'Call' supposed to be?
came from a place deep inside; 
a place where I realized  that my ego, 
and my abilities,
aren’t consumed by this new job 
as much as they were 
in a previous stage of my career;
a place where the new talents, skills and lessons
don’t yet feel routine
or come easily, 
as if second nature.

It’s not been work
 as I’ve known it.

This work also hasn’t been drenched in adrenaline.
I’m still learning to work without the chemical stew.
The rush,
constant anxiety,
heart palpitations
and hypervigilance
is all, delightfully, 

When comparing the two situations,
it’s felt like I'm offering my current work ‘crumbs’.

(And yes, 
I’ve cautioned myself about the dangers of comparison
literally hundreds of times;
It’s probably why I tune myself out 
and end up doing it anyway! )

As luck,
or fate,
would have it,
the Gospel last weekend in church 
was about the feeding of the 5000 – 
with a few loaves and fishes;
it was about a miracle.

Among the words I heard or read about that lesson was this gem …

We can devote ourselves to striving after success (as we define it),
or we can notice the 'least likely to succeed' parts of ourselves—
What? All you have is one little boy with a few loaves and fish?
—and imagine them new.

Our child heart is open; 
it offers what it has, 
saying not a word about what it has not.
 What good will come from such a small offering? 
Yet ages since, we still ponder the outcome: 
“Gather up the fragments left over,” Jesus says, “so that nothing may be lost.” 

If we fall under the trance of 'success', 
we risk overlooking the power of crumbs. 

What is left over when we have nothing more to give, is enough. 
Immense potential lives among the fragments.

I love that hope;
if true, 
it would indeed be a miracle. 
So that’s where the beginning of this week finds me …
offering what I think are my  crumbs;
trusting that while this is 
a different phase of my life,
nothing is lost;

trusting that there is still immense potential 
among the fragments that remain.

I’m going to live as if it’s true.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The perfect prayer for our broken world

May God bless you with a restless discomfort 
about easy answers, 
half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly, 
and love deep within your heart. 

May God bless you with holy anger 
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may tirelessly work 
for justice, freedom, 
and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed 
with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, 
or the loss of all that they cherish, 
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them 
and transform their pain into joy. 

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe 
that you really can make a difference in this world, 
so that you are able,
with God’s grace, 
to do what others claim cannot be done. 
~Franciscan Blessing

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Not a rhetorical question

It will come as no surprise to any of you that I've been struggling in my new job; 
can it still be considered 'new' if I've been there for 5 months?

Building a new clinic from the ground up is daunting; 
fraught with daily obstacles, difficulties 
and unintended consequences 
from choices made early on in the process.

Frankly, it's exhausting ...
and I'm old.
I don't have the stamina for challenge I once had, 
nor apparently do I have the amount of ego tied up with this venture 
that I did with my position in the ER.
Say what you will about the pitfalls of a driven ego 
(insert picture of Donald Trump here) 
but the energy it generates can certainly carry you through some tough times.

Don't get me wrong; 
I want to do well. 
I want the clinic to succeed. 
There's not an element of it that I don't believe in 
but I recognize and acquiesce
to the limitations of my influence and abilities 
far more than ever before.

And I've wondered A LOT 
if this is truly Gods call for me.

Because here's the truth - 
from the moment I said Yes to God, 
life's gotten a lot harder!

How hard should call be?
A question for my spiritual discernment group tonight!


Folks I love are strewn about the world,
bringing joy, laughter and beauty
to the people who are lucky enough 
to have them in their lives.

 In Nepal

back East

at the end of a rainbow
out west
 and representing the Midwest.

I miss being in their presence ...
hopefully soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

And then there are days...

Yup, THOSE days...

I have to admit 
I've had a LOT of them lately.

Days when I can barely drag myself out of bed 
and force myself to get ready for work;

 because I'm convinced that my job consists merely of 
making phone calls, 
taking paper out of one file 
only to place it in another,
studying the Google calendar for 3 medical providers, 
trying to make part time schedules cover full time need,
keeping statistics for grant monitors
turning in reports;
all of which, 
in fact, 
are meaningless activities;
not at all what I went to graduate school for 
and most importantly
NOT making a difference in anyones life, 
except mine - 
and then, clearly, 
not in a good way!

Days when I lose sight of why I'm where I am,
 doing what I'm doing.
And then there are days like last Friday - 
when I was stopped by a woman, in her late 50's,
as I was walking through the clinic area.

She asked me if I had worked in the PICU 24 years ago 
and, when I answered yes,
she threw her arms around me in a huge heartfelt embrace,
telling the young lady she was with that 
"this was THAT Social Worker I was telling you about".

She told the story of her son who had suffered 
an aneurysm and stroke at age 5 
and survived. 
but with multiple special needs,
"You spent hours with us, 
reassuring us that we'd find, or be given, 
the strength to deal with it;
giving us hope when the doctors couldn't;
letting us know we wouldn't be alone 
on this next phase of the journey we were starting on with him".

She went on to say that her son had died 2 years ago
at age 27
peacefully at home;
that days before the final seizure,
 which led to a cardiac arrest,
he had inexplicably been 'healed'. 

"He was walking without a limp,
he regained use of his left arm
and his smile, post stroke,
which could only be described as 'crooked' 
had become symmetrical and 'normal'.
You remember his smile, don't you Donna?
He always lit up when you came in to the room.

I remembered you saying that wholeness doesn't look the same for everyone,
but that even in brokenness
there are gifts to be found...

those words always carried me through".

It was her first trip back to the hospital since her son died.
She was there with her daughter and infant grand-daughter.

She had been nervous and apprehensive,
fearful of being flooded with painful memories,
sure that sadness would overwhelm her - 

"and then here you are;
right where I needed you to be again,
after all these years.
Guess God isn't through with you yet!"
And then,
even if you can only vaguely remember the particulars of her sons story,
even if you can only partially recognize pieces of truths you've shared over the years
with so many hurting families,
even if you feel like a fraud standing there 
being the recipient of her gracious attention,
you recognize the gift you've been given.
If you're very lucky, 
there are days 
when you get reminders of what's important
and why you are 
where you are
doing what you're doing.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The ER has changed me forever.

I recently went on a Mission trip with 11 'normal' people,
meaning folks with 'regular' jobs
in the church, 
business and education.
We drove down BIA 5,
the 'scenic' route on the reservation,
along the tranquil Little White River;
so beautiful that the locals routinely take down 
signs designating the highway
so 'wasichu' can't find it.

We stopped at a bend in the river,
a favorite spot of ours to take pictures.
And, while looking down the steep incline, 
which has no visible pathway down,
one of the group noticed a lone, 
seemingly empty, 
stroller on the riverbank.
 While the others talked about how sad it is that a mom, 
while admiring the river,
lost her stroller,
I grabbed my telephoto lens,
fearful there was a dead baby inside;
convinced that an empty stroller,
 innocently rolling down the hill,
would have flipped over several times 
and not ended perfectly upright shortly before the rivers edge.

After reassuring myself that it was indeed empty,
my mind immediately turned to other scenarios.

Two of the most prominent were
a) a baby was tossed into the river to drown
by a mom suffering from post partum depression
b) a baby died (maybe, but probably not, from natural causes) ;
her ashes were cast into the river 
and the stroller left as a makeshift memorial.

ALL my scenarios involved some form of tragedy and trauma.

I made the mistake of saying just one of my scenarios out loud
to friends.

Trust me when I say
not 1 of my scenarios had occurred to anyone else
in the group.

My 'norm' - 
even more than 1 yr after leaving the ER -
is still NOT normal.

True story.

ps. I still think something nefarious and tragic happened.
We just don't have enough information to confirm what it was.

Also a true story.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July Photo Challenge

I'm 1/3 of the way through ...
and loving every minute of it!

A friend organized a group of us on Facebook,
gave us a list of prompts 
and set us free to interpret the world 
(and the daily word) 
for ourselves.

Do I even need to say that not one of us photographed the same things
or came close to seeing the world 
in the same way?

Day 1:
Day 2: Cherished detail
Day 3:
 Day 4: light
Day 5:
Summer nights
Day 6:
Day 7:
more than 10
Day 8:
 Day 9:
(It's only one of many options!)
 Day 10:
 Day 11:
on the side of the road
Day 12:
fill the lens

 It's been just the motivation I needed 
to make sure the camera is out-
and being used!

I always forget how much I love to play with it;
lesson learned - 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

County Fair

Thanks for coming back - 
even though I've been missing in action.

Words would have gotten in the way of all that's in my head and heart these days;
I clearly needed some days of running silent and deep.

But this weekend, 
I realized what I also needed was a mini road trip
and the chance to do some exploring.

Luckily for me,
I can drive 1 hour 
in any direction 
and be completely away from urban streets
in another world.

Seeing another way of living 
in a quiet, quaint town
at their small county Fair

 I WAS fantasizing about owning chickens -
until this guy gave me the stink eye!
Free kittens were heart tuggers 
but ultimately resistible.
The rain of the past few weeks was nowhere to be seen 
but left in its wake was oppressive heat and humidity 
that had all of us seeking relief 
wherever we could find it!

We arrived in time to see the cattle judging -

and that was enough.
We left for a more natural habitat
for us  - 

 and imagining lives behind different doors.

I loved seeing creativity that demands to be expressed

 and there's nothing like poking around in antique stores 
to give my spirit a lift.
Even if the biggest splurge of the day was the $5.00 
I spent on felt and crocheted vegetables!
I mean, come on ...
the cauliflower alone is worth THAT!

Don't even ask what I'm going to do with them -
beyond displaying them on the dining room table for awhile - 
before giving them to the preschool at church 
for the kids to play with!
A perfect day of not jumping through anyones hoops
but mine!
I needed that!