First, a bit of "housekeeping." I am on a relatively new computer which I have had to rescue multiple times from tech trouble. I am also recovering from email oblivion. I am functioning normally yet again, but I lost (as in never saw) several days of email. So if you contacted me within the last two weeks and never got a reply, or if you have friended me and never got added back, please email me and bother me. I am working on reordering my life and getting people contacted who should have been contacted and friended who should have been friended, etc.
Now for updates... Since this is a public post, my friends will have to grin and bear the repetition of the last few weeks. I have been posting numerous friends-only posts since I have been too emotionally vulnerable to do public posts. I am returning to an existence that I have not known for many months, and that means more public posts and more depth. I hope that means enjoyment for all of you in a variety of ways.
On April 30, I talked about the recurrence of polyps in my sinuses and the fact that I was scheduled for surgery on May 9. This surgery was much harder for me than the one I had two years ago, though I think the polyps were perhaps not as extensive. They were deeper in the sinuses--they could only be seen on CT scan. I slept a lot during the first week and experienced excruciating pain into the second week. At my second appointment, I had a creative idea. I asked the doctor to demonstrate on my face where the sinuses are since he normally uses a diagram to show this to a sighted person. This was very educational to me. He explained about the relationship of the sinuses to facial nerves and how this influences pain. He also explained that getting "cleaned out" after surgery takes about six to eight weeks. No wonder I'm uncomfortable!
I am up and around now, though, and the pain is lessening. I went to church today and even sang during the worship. I will return to choir for the last few weeks, and this will be good for my soul.
My experience at church was amazing this morning in a number of ways. I really need to try to preserve something about it, to remember what made it worth remembering.
In the bulletins, there are little readings to bring us into worship. They are just there for people to read as they are getting settled in their seats; and I would miss out on them if the bulletin wasn't emailed to me. I need to remember to email the church and let them know how much this means to me. Today they announcec that there were personal listening devices available, and I thought this was good progress. It is always in the bulletin, but I think it is good that they said it too. I would like to encourage them to mention that they can email the bulletin to people who can't read it--dyslexics can benefit from this, too.
Today's reading was not written by a member of the congregation or staff as the readings often are. It comes from a theologian named Marva Dawn. I love her books, and this makes me want to buy another one.
Dedicated to all the people who need the Sabbath--
the busiest, who need to work from a cohesive, unfragmented self;
social activists, who need a cycle of worship and action;
those who chase after fulfillment and need to understand their deepest yearnings and to hear the silence;
those who have lost their ability to play because of the materialism and technologization of our society, who need beauty and gaiety and delight;
those who have lost their passion and need to get in touch with feelings;
those who are alone and need emotional nourishment;
those who live in community and need solitude;
those who cannot find their life’s priorities and need a new perspective;
those who long for deeper family life and want to nurture certain values;
the poor and the oppressed, who need to mourn and to dance in the prison camp;
the rich and the oppressors, who need to learn nonviolence, stewardship, and God’s purposes in the world;
those who suffer, who need to learn how suffering can be redemptive;
professional theologians, who need to bring the heart back into theology;
those who don’t know how religion fits into the modern world, who need a relationship with God;
those who are disgusted with dry, empty, formalistic worship and want to love and adore God;
those who want to be God’s instruments, enabled and empowered by the Spirit to be world changers and Sabbath healers.
Reading this was like refreshment to my spirit. It's one thing to talk about what the Sabbath is. It's another thing to break down how it applies to different groups of people... Learning to enjoy time alone was one of the hardest things I have ever done because I spend so much time alone by default, unable to voluntarily go out due to financial hardship and lack of transportation. Reading this passage prompted me to think about creative meanings of sabbath that might serve in my situation.
Two of our associate pastors are husband and wife. They work part-time as pastor of children's ministry and pastor of adult education. They will soon be leaving because one of them has obtained a full-time position at another church. Their nine-month-old baby was dedicated this morning, and the congregation shared in a covenant to support them in prayer and friendship during their transition. Joel brought the baby around so that people in the congregation could be close to her while Carma, our pastor of worship arts, read something about baby dedication. I had a chance to touch her. This was very emotional for me for a couple of reasons. It made the whole experience real to me. Usually, baby dedications are very abstract for me because I have often never met the parents or the baby. I cannot see them, and often I cannot hear the parents speak their commitments. So it is all abstract. But in addition to this, I have held Anna, and the experience helped me to have some closure on their moving. It also reminded me of Anna's family's trust in me. Sometimes people are nervous about me holding their babies, as if I might drop the baby because I am blind. Kristin never seemed uncomfortable at all. We went to lunch when Anna was a couple of months old, and she just put her in my arms as if we were old friends. It was a very precious thing to me, and I felt that I was gaining a friend in Kristin. Touching Anna today helped me to know that I didn't have to say goodbye from the pew.
I am doing an independent study this summer, examining the impact of disability on the church community and how people with and without disabilities experience life in the community and interactions with each other. It's hard to describe the project in a sentence or two... I am interviewing people from a couple of local churches and a handful of additional communities around the country, and I'm hoping to put together something that raises some topics worth thinking about. It will be a really neat learning process for me as I talk with people whose experiences are both different from and similar to mine, and I hope it will help other people in the long run. This has the potential to be my favorite part of seminary.