Sunday, June 13, 2010

#184: Serenity of a Sleepy Sunday

The morning was a difficult sequel to a difficult night. My routine was really thrown yesterday by missing my radiation treatment in the morning. The whole of Saturday seemed out of whack, and got worse as the minutes crawled by. Church this morning was a physical ordeal. Now, the world seems like a much more peaceful place.

All day yesterday I was pursued by these spasms of nausea. The the right side of the base of my tongue has really started to get sore, especially if I swallow or yawn. Most annoying of all, the ringing in my ears that the chemo nurse promised me has begun in earnest. Not painful, but definitely a nuisance. So "wah, wah, wah," I have plenty to cry about today.

This morning I woke feeling better, slept pretty well through the night, but Mrs P was exhausted from all her acomplishments yesterday. I confess to using a little emotional blackmail to pressure to go to church. Not proud of that, but I know we both always feel better about being there than we do about geting up to go. Church was a real strain on me. The trip in wasn't so bad, but the seats, the music, the people, it all just started to wear me out. Early in the sermon, which was very good, I had to leave the nave and sit alone in the side chapel. There is a sofa in there, and my friend Nathan brought me a cup of cool water and a loving pat on the cheek to soothe my face.

Is there anything so healing as a tenderness shared between friends?

Mrs P snuck out soon enough and had ice chips for me. She even managed to make a cool rag materialize. We sat together quitely while the preacher preached, the people prayed, and the body of Christ set about doing the work of God in the world. I was struck by the length of the announcements as much as their content. Not about meetings and get togethers, but about service opportunities. Chances to help. Our church's patron is St Martha, the sister who stayed in the kitchen to do the dishes. It was founded in that spirit, and as best we can, we try to stay true to her example.

I was reluctant to go back to church for a long time after a terrible fall-out at my last parish home. I thought I had finally found the church where I could really fit in - the church where my strange combination of Liberal Charismatic Presbyterian Anglo-catholicism could match up with a nest that made sense. Finally, as we will always do, the humans screwed it up. We hurt one another, over and over, often with the best of intentions. My mental health required that I separate myself from the place and the people I had loved, and I miss them every day. But I don't think I can go back. Nostalgia is no substitute for the Holy Spirit. And nostalgia is what calls me to that place.

When I first got sick, I met with our priest, Tim. I had attended services at St Martha's, but was not really a part of the parish family. I said that I didn't want to feel like a hypocrite. "Oh, gee. I'm dying. I better get to church so I can make sure there's someone to throw me a funeral." Tim assured me that there might be other benefits. He was right, of course. He's a good priest.

Home again, half a baked potato for lunch, then nap time. When I awoke a few hours later, Mrs P and Mum were both dozing like angels. Even Jake was stretched out in front of one of the air conditioner vents. I padded through the house as quietly as I could, just taking them all in. All these beautiful people who were here, pouring themselves out to help me stay alive. I watched my Mother sleeping, so vulterable with her glasses off.

There is a serenity to this waiting, so different from last week when I was waiting for everything to begin. Now we wait for all the medicine to do its work. We wait for the healing, and the side effects. We wait for the next treatment. We wait for morning and for a nap to end.

I guess we're waiting on God, too. When it comes down to the last word, God will decide what comes next. I haven't always thought too much of how that plan is unfolding, but for now, waiting is OK with me.

Changing the things I can change,
Accepting the things I cannot,
And doing my best to tell the difference.

Peace, Y'all,

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