flying around corners

Since I last posted I have flown to many places in circular patterns as well as straight lines and U-curves. Last weekend I flew (actually) to New York for a meeting of the MennoNeighbors, a group of Mennonites currently putting our heads together to work toward securing the next step our denomination must take in social justice: inclusivity and the embrace of diversity. It was a fine weekend, met very interesting and wonderful people. Didn’t have time to see much of Manhattan, but we got a lot done (I think). Then flew home and attended a lovely party with new friends. Yesterday, I crashed under the weight of water logged wings.

Today I literally turn the corner on safety and turn 71. Those who are yet healthy and under the age of 60 may not understand what I am about to share concerning corner-turning, but hang in there with me and time-travel a bit.

My 70th birthday was bittersweet. We thought we were going to be received into membership at the church we were attending. It was to be a prodigal son  sort of thing. Dear old friends were invited to attend and were just waiting for the date to be declared. My  singer/songwriter  friend was going to play and sing for us. Significant persons in my encounter with faith were looking forward to being there with us. After 3 decades in the desert, this was an important event of covenant renewal for us. Of course, as we know, it never happened. Instead, we had some people come and celebrate my 70th birthday, including one dear old friend who flew in from Albuquerque. It was an amazing evening. On the other side of this movie screen, I was recovering from a Rituxan infusion  (lymphoma maintenance treatment), feeling ill and heart-broken. That was 70 for me…a little formidable but a cornerstone of age that I managed to slip through with more or less dignity.

This year, I turn the corner and face the east, the road to 80. There is no stopping it. The years go so quickly and cancer patients all know that time becomes a different entity in the remission stage(s). For me, it is not a loss of youth, it is an anxiety about time itself…time to do as much as I can to make a difference everywhere I go…to leave a legacy that is positive and helpful, especially to my daughter, partner and all those whom I have loved, love and maybe love me too. But even more than that—to leave the spot of the world that I stand in better off than when I arrived—better off because I chose to struggle toward wholeness without holding back. Sometimes that looked foolish to me as well as to others, but I never had a real choice. It wasn’t heroic. It was just an energy seemingly written into my DNA, completely outside voluntary action. Completely intuitive. I take no credit. It just was what it was. Chemotherapy changes DNA. Mine did in some respects, but not in this one. Praise God!

This is a sad time of year, and it is nearly Advent. I am mourning losses of my own and that of persons who have touched my life and now are gone. This includes all persons I’ve known who have died of terminal illness as well as those gone through an accident of timing. They all live in my heart. The first is my sister, who died last year of lymphoma at almost 81, 2 days before Christmas. She was like a mother to me. I talk to her often and think she is waiting for me somewhere in time and sacred space. This is a comforting thought. I am young and old at the same time because I got such a late start at 40. My young friends don’t understand my old heart and some of my old friends do not understand my young heart, but if I walk along with Jesus—the premier young/old, male/female one, I just feel like me and that is the best place to be…walking along the Sea of Galilee with all the others.

So I gather myself together, dry my wings off and prepare to circle the sky with wings of prayer. I am the Sacred Bird of the North, made in God’s image and preparing to join the great procession of Sacred Birds when called…but for now, I have so much more to do…so much more of Galilee to walk. May God grant me time enough to die with no regrets at all.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow….

I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow with Jesus…

5 Responses to “flying around corners”

  1. 1 ordinary (mostly)
    November 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

    May you have a blessed birthday. May you experience Advent in it’s fullness – not without the pain, but as one who fully understands hope because of the pain.

    “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

  2. 3 Anne
    November 17, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Dearest little bird with big wings,
    I trust you will have the time you need, knowing how you wish to accomplish so much, and knowing you don’t waste the time you have. I treasure our friendship and the 7 plus extra wisdom years you have on me and to share with me. Sacred bird of the north – great image.

  3. 4 Janet
    November 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Dear Naomi….Your writings are beautiful, heartfelt and touching. I am not nearly where you are….but I won’t compare. Oddly my journey has not taught me so much about life as I would hope. But away from a specific body of believers, I do know who I am. When I was with them, I did not have a clue. But I guess life takes us in different directions to learn what we need to know. So perhaps I have learned much more than I allow myself to see. I do know we are truly all connected. And it seems to me if humanity accepted that one reality,perhaps we would not be so fragmented. I would like to think also that there would not be so much suffering.

    Your writing is beautiful. I like to write as well. I wish I could be eloquent in my communications.

    Tell me Naomi…when I saw you at J’s birthday party and you said in a response, written, I think…that I was like an angel. I was touched by that, but also wondered what you saw in me that inspired that thought. It makes me want to cry. But I don’t know why? Thank you for all of your beautiful writings. I did watch the Thirty Good Minutes clip. I learned a lot about you in those three minutes. But I wish I could have heard the whole interview!

    Loving thoughts and kindness to you.

    I had a lovely talk with Korin. It was so nice talking with her.

    • 5 Naomi
      December 7, 2009 at 10:10 am

      God sends angels to me when I need them. You are one of them. That doesn’t mean you have to do or be anything. It just means that God used you that day in a special way for me. And because of that, you will always be special to me. It’s not what we are, it’s what God has made and makes us. It is Grace.

      You say all this makes you want to cry. Crying is a good thing. It can be an expression of emotion too deep for words. Perhaps in this situation, you receive God’s unconditional love through me? God uses the lowly pretty regularly.

      I think my encounter with God during this time is what has made the difference in my life. I am learning all the time Janet. I have written more in an email to you.

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