Archive for the 'Friendship' Category


long ago and yesterday

Today is Friday and I am waiting for the hospice nurse to come visit AD. I look forward to her visits because they are informative and stabilizing for me as a (novice) care-giver. While I wait I think about my friend, adopted daughter, cancer buddy and teammate. This latter description is one we came to recently as we realized the synchronicity of the dance we are doing together. I am learning so much from standing back and standing by, trusting my intuition while ready to give it up when I am off course. This is a truly sacred space we are occupying together. I don’t think about the end, although I know it is not terribly far off and I am somewhat familiar with what it looks like. I think about now and sometimes I think about a few of the yesterdays, but if I do too much of the latter I get weepy and that is not helpful except when I am alone and private.

AD was diagnosed with ovarian cancer two months after my own diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A month prior to my diagnosis I had fallen down the basement stairs and fractured my right foot. By September, just after my first chemo session, and before her diagnosis, she took me in a wheel chair to buy a few items of clothing that I needed. I was very weak and still short of breath. It was tiring and we weren’t out very long, but the memory comes to me now that the roles are reversing. I want to share photographs with you that in my heart, speak of the relationship we have together. These are from October,  2006, after her surgery and first chemo session.

So long ago and just yesterday…..


life goes on

I had a few rough days and nights as my last post reveals. By Thursday I was nearly undone from sleeplessness and despair. A phone call to my fine feathered friend, whom I shall call the Empress Bird (EB), and another to her dear partner, Queen Bee (QB) brought enormous relief. In the evening Big Dawg and I spent a couple of hours with EB, a person much like me, and through sharing back and forth, all my feelings that had no place to go were witnessed and released. One more time, the waters were not permitted to overcome me. Empress Bird spoke many life changing things to me and I heard them somewhere inside of my own silver lining.

When we left, I had two recordings in my hands that Queen Bee made for us—one for Adopted Daughter and her pain, and one for me and my sleeplessness . My recording was 100% helpful. I slept like a baby. Got rid of some nasty fears through dreams, and am now convinced that whenever I hear the sound of QB’s voice I may just become dumb-struck! AD used hers last night and says it helped her so much. We are grateful receivers of God’s gifts…the miraculous and the useful…we are open mouths for all that God sends any which way it comes.

Tomorrow BD and I will become members of our Little Church That Could in the city and AD will rejoice. Many of our friends from here and there, across the years and recent, will be there. Songs of our hearts will be sung and we will share with everyone what it means to us to have come this long, long way. We will rejoice  as endings fold themselves into new beginnings. Our good friend will come and sing Here by the Water for us…a song about the rough stones we are…stones only God can smooth, only God can make holy. That is our story, BD’s and mine…rough stones in the river of life.

Called by name….you are mine.

Cairn was built by Todd Friesen with love

Composite was made by Naomi with love..


christmas eve

It is late afternoon on Christmas Eve and all through the house not a person is stirring, not even a cat. The laundry is done and folded with care in hopes that my loved ones will have something to wear.

Ah, the memories of childhood…that advent of wonder. The sacred world begins to turn a new page on the first Sunday of Advent each year. As a child, I didn’t know that  Christmas was more than Santa, presents, family and fun.  I love Advent from start to finish. It’s just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that bring a lump to my throat. Family, you know.

Yesterday I marked the first year anniversary of my oldest sister’s death from lymphoma. She was a mother/sister and a cancer buddy to me. A week ago, I learned that my adopted daughter’s cancer has returned. She and I are also cancer buddies—she having been diagnosed two months after me in 2006. She’s has three recurrences in three years, while I spent the past three years recovering and achieving remission. The past week has been full of challenges, both painfully sad and amazingly joyous. I am thankful for God’s grace and the love of friends. This small, chosen family of ours is standing in the wind…holding on tight, even as we let go, as we must…as we all eventually must.

I will write more about this as we go. Right now, it’s time make merry. It’s Christmas! And at midnight, even the animals speak!


blessings and prayer

Yesterday my partner and I marked our 33rd anniversary together. We have the pleasure of sharing this date with adopted daughter who turned 48. She has just begun her second cancer remission in three years and hopes to reach retirement at 50, and have a few extra years for fun. We had a lot to celebrate, but it was just a quiet dinner out. We have all learned that life is quite fragile, not to be taken for granted and lived as well as possible each and every day, whether in joy or sadness.

Just before AD’s birthday, she learned that a friend in her cancer support group had died despite the heroic efforts of oncology to save her and her own weakened, body’s desire to be saved. She was 52…a wife, a mother, an activist.  News of death among this group is near to shattering for them and for us as well. We are sobered by the fragility of life and the knowledge that time is as limited as it is infinite. Our evening was an affirmation rather than a jubilation. We breathed quiet prayers.

The night before I had one of those sleepless in the suburbs challenges and had written about it, posted it, then deleted it the next day. It was not entirely appropriate for public consumption. But I learned something about myself through it…about all that I want to do with the rest of my life despite the ebbing of energy as I age, and how anxious I still can get about interfaces with people I don’t yet know very well. The abusive experiences of the past year have left me feeling shyer than I’d like in my new congregation and reticent to make new connections. I have a little card that came home with me from the  Mennonite Conference in July. It says:

Become the leader you are called to be.

Well, what do you suppose that means? I haven’t figured it out yet, but there really was no reason for me to have seen this message. It just happened to be left at the table by someone who’d sat there before I’d come to the session. I don’t know if leadership is one of my gifts or not. I never thought it was, but if it is, I’ll have to grow into it. And if I grow into it, I hope to have far fewer sleepless in the suburbs nights. I gratefully accept prayers.




I don’t see many hummingbirds…have not seen many and may not. They are not everywhere. One must have red flowers with nectar that calls to them: “Come here, little ones, come quench your thirst on this delicious wine…” One flower would not be enough unless there are hummingbirds in the area. I think I may have only seen 4 or 5 of them in my lifetime. I said, seen. That’s the difference—seeing them. They are always on the move, fly a million miles an hour and do not linger without cause. Flitting from flower to flower in total delight, they are energy and wonder, love and joy.

Legends concerning this tiny little bird are generally positive and hopeful. Native Americans associate hummingbirds with the Ghost Spirit, who teaches a dance intended to return the natural balance of the world. An Aztec legend says the god of music and poetry took the form of a hummingbird and descended into the underworld to make love with a goddess, who then gave birth to the first flower.

Last Sunday (hope and help, Sep. 2) I was sharing with friends and spoke about some of the more difficult challenges I’ve had in my 70+ years. Suddenly they spotted a hummingbird just outside the window adjacent to where I was sitting. It hovered next to me, looked in and dashed away quickly, realizing there was no portal through the window. Shy little birds, barely weighing an ounce, I suspect. Messengers of love and joy, some say.

I was startled and slow to respond.  My story had sadness in it…sadness I was used to, but sadness oneHummingbirdgenerally leaves in boxes and prefers not to open unless asked. It had been a tough half hour, and a tough week prior. My friends were ecstatic with joy at the site of the little bird. They thought it was a blessing from God and a good omen. I thought it was a blessing from God too, but not just for me…for all of us. Was it God-life answering my prayer the night before, for a pathway out of sadness and a way in to joy? Did the Holy Spirit appear to me as the angel appeared to Mary?


tending relationships with love and humility

My last blog post created a bit of a stir, mostly off site, I am pleased to say. I feel the need to state clearly that while there are many blogging styles and purposes, mine is 75% open journal sharing of my thoughts and experiences in the 7th decade of my curious life. The remaining 25% is whatever crosses my path that I think might be of interest to others. I am not out to create controversy,  show off to the world or hurt my friends, but sometimes it seems inevitable that someone will be offended by my views. Richard Rohr has occasionally used the term Receiving Stations, in reference to the way we receive information (whatever it’s origin or content) through the channels of our particular personal views and life experiences.  Important fact to remember for communicating with others: Receiving Stations are as important as Sending Stations. What is sent may not be received clearly. There could be static on the line, or perhaps some other type of interference.  So, as a blogger I must be clear that what I am publishing is the truth as I have experienced it; I must own past and present views as my own…and I do. When I write about  experiences that include others, I try to do so with anonymity for them. Even so, there is always the chance that someone will find offense that I do not intend. Sometimes it’s the receiving station on the blink…sometimes it’s me, the sending station. The thing is, you bloggers out there, if you are writing about your own views, reflections, and experiences with respect for others, then you are okay, until or unless someone shows you differently.

One of my friends left a comment about tending relationships with love and humility. What about this? As Christ followers (or people of spiritual conviction), how is this done without occasionally stepping on a size-able twig and hearing it snap back? And what if the twig was never really there at all, but only there in the receiving station friend? What if what one has said, or written is true, but perceived by another not as intended, and that person (one’s friend), sustains offense? What next? Matthew 18:15-20 has always been the model for me, but the success of it seems to rely largely on each participant believing in its form and value.

I have tried on the humility of apology for love’s sake—Jesus sake. When the result has been reconciling, I’ve been glad to do it (maybe even a bit too proud?), but when the problem is so large that it becomes chasmic, I find I do not yet possess the quality of humility required to absorb in love rather than a more familiar ploy of escalating my effort to explain into a win/win ending. In short, I become defensive. This is much more likely to be the case for me  in relation to some Enneagram types than others. Nonetheless, it is a problem:  do I fall on my sword, continue explanations ad infinitum, or resort to the defensive posture I’ve known all my life?

Well, here’s the thing:  my defensive posture covers anger, which in turn covers hurt. Some will say that no one can make you feel hurt unless you give them that power. Of course I don’t buy that. Been there, done that, and have a few scars to show. I’m in my 7th decade. I was out there trying this, that and the other before some of my dear friends were even born. There is just enough truth in this paradigm to be dangerous to most of us common folk. What really happens when we sustain a sense of wounding/hurt—if true,  we have the option of being truthful about it and possibly receiving an apology. If untrue, we can respond as though it were true,  and avoid a falling out. Or we can yank out our trusty defense responses and gear up for battle…the first one to wobble loses… Then again…we can take whatever spiritual path is common to our belief system and work toward its promised conclusion. As a Christ follower, my professed choice is, of course the Matthew 18 pattern of resolution, that failing, my choice defaults to a descending order of  first setting aside the defense measures that cover my anger, then setting my mind to letting go of the anger (which so perfectly covers my hurt and/or humiliation), and sitting with that while God watches that the waters of mourning climb high enough to transform, but not overwhelm me.

Just so you don’t think I am whistling Dixie while the bullets fly…  This is very hard for me to do. Let me say this again in another way: allowing the painful place to lie uncovered…open to the wind and rain is extremely difficult to do. I think the only reason I can occasionally come anywhere near close to this is because I am old enough to know that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain in the end. By everything I mean Spiritual Transformation/Wholeness…Peace…Shalom.

So this is my summary answer to the self-help therapists responsible for the popular notion that by not acknowledging hurt received, the responsible party is not endowed with enough power to grow his/her power garden. If I follow your counsel I risk losing my ability to feel as well as think. And I so appreciate that right brain gift of the Magae: feeling, and especially the transformation thing. Now that is really something!



Last weekend a number of friends from our former congregation came together to meet and greet and enjoy each others company. Nothing unusual about that, except that this is the congregation that now exists in painful division  after the effort to extend membership to my partner and me failed in the most miserable of ways—on Pentecost Sunday, the day the Christian Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the followers of Jesus.

Our friends came to see us and each other to affirm and enjoy. Each one had something to give to the evening and each one had something they mourned, but mourning was mostly absent, except for a few forced smiles and the sense of sadness that wafted through occasionally. Gatherings like this are all about closure and they are as bitter sweet as they are comforting. Closure is what we do in our society. We seek closure, as though anything can ever really be finalized, categorized,  shelved and forgotten—not even death. I don’t think anyone went home that evening feeling good or released from the issue that fills the space where we used to stand. I think we said goodbye in a dozen different ways—all of them leaving a stain in the heart.

My partner, Big Dawg and I are making ourselves at home in another congregation, but we can’t help the sense of knowing that what went wrong went horribly wrong, and the price to be paid will come due for everyone. As an idealist, I struggle with this. As a Christ follower, I see everyone’s tears melting into God’s tears and then…


Do you think God goes for closure? I don’t.

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