Archive for February 2nd, 2010

02
Feb
10

and then…

The day following our joyous membership ceremony, Adopted Daughter and I made a visit to the palliative care doctor her oncologist had recommended. Thinking we were going to get something better for pain along with good advice, we greeted the doctor warmly and answered all questions. Then came advice we were not prepared for: “Have you considered hospice?” the doctor asked, succinctly and sensitively. We listened, understood, and as if on cue, we both agreed that it was a good idea to get that service in place at the outset. We quickly understood that hospice was not just for those near death, but for those whose illness leaves them less than six months of life. While we knew the likely prognosis, neither of us were quite prepared for the realities this move would usher into our lives.

No sooner was the decision made than the wheels of hospice care turned quickly…all week long. Every day last week was filled with planning, preparations, announcements, discussions, hospice visitations and shock. By Thursday night shock morphed into full-real in a dance without rehearsal. What I had begun with practicality became mournfully tearful without warning. On Friday a visit by the pastor of our church, along with AD’s friend and pastoral mentor, wound it’s way into an amazingly comprehensive plan for counsel and support that we call the Care Team. This is now in place, complete with a special blog to provide updates, conversation and a visiting calendar for two congregations and AD’s many friends. I am exhausted. I am halfway through an unexpected course in caring (not curing), taught by the holy spirit of God.

In two day’s time, my partner (Big Dawg), AD and another dear friend will pack up a huge van, climb in and head to Cincinnati for the biennial Mennonite Arts Weekend, where I will be an artist-presenter. The theme of the festival is The Art of Place: Sacred Spaces and Common Ground. Long before any of the heartache of AD’s metastasis, or the trials that so painfully excluded BD and me from membership occurred, I had determined that suffering as sacred space and common ground would be my reference. Now, I find this quite stunning—a clear convergence of harmonic God-tones toward a thin place I am both prepared and unprepared to speak about.

“That’s fine,’ says God. ‘Now you can listen and speak the words I will give.”

02
Feb
10

life since then

I have not written since the eve of our membership ceremony. So much has happened since that day. I will start by sharing with you in this posting, the words I spoke to the members of my new congregation, and thereby bring you up to date on that part of my journey.

Membership Sunday, January 24, 2010 – Naomi

I am not a newcomer to pain and disappointment. I did not live a charmed life. It was as a single desperate mother that I came to Reba Place Fellowship in 1972. I had come to the end of my road——what I knew how to do to survive. My first experience of worship at Reba was amazing. Most everyone will tell the same story: It was the abundance of love that drew me in; it felt unconditional and I sorely needed a place to lie down. Life at Reba had its ups and downs. It was a mixed bag, but one thing was certain: It was discipleship 24/7. I became a Christian there in the Immersion Method. Whether guided or misguided, we lived Matthew 18 in households of various sizes. There were a number of painfully misguided events that were personally devastating to me, but on the whole, I don’t believe I could have had a better grounding in Christian life and principles than I received at the Reba “boot-camp.”

Judy and I met at Reba Place and have been life partners for 32 years. Devotional journaling was an everyday event. During one of these times in our last few tumultuous months at Reba, we each received a word, or prophecy, that we were not to worry; and that God had given us to each other for the purpose of becoming the full persons he intended us to be.

Living this out was not possible at Reba and we eventually had to endure a painful leave taking. It was with this vision at the center of our life together that we journeyed through the next 30 years in a kind of Ruth and Naomi relationship, searching for an acceptable version of what we’d left behind.

Judy and I have been true partners through many deep waters. We’ve had many challenges as well as blessings. We survived and prospered in the secular world, but we never found another spiritual home for worship.

Now at the beginning of my 7th decade, having survived round one of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the recent experience of church non-acceptance, I believe I am finally growing up and into the child God made me at the moment I was conceived. It has been a hard road with many rough stones, but here by the water, I build an altar of praise and thanksgiving to the One God—faithful life-giver, stone smoother, transformer and charmer who has indeed Called me by Name and never let the water overcome me.

After all is said and done and the fire has been laid to rest, I see that although only grafted in and not cradled in, I am a Mennonite and one day, just once, I’d like to wear a little white bonnet—to stand under it, just to know what it feels like to be so represented by honor.

I am delighted beyond words to be here…to lay down the gifts God has given me to give to you. It is an enormous blessing to be part of the wheel of life, turning and coming round right.




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