Elizabeth F. said that someone recently had asked her what she was going to do with her life and when she told him he said, "That's God's work," and she said, "Yes it is," and she commented that sometimes she needs someone else to remind her that what she is doing is God's work.
Courtney shared something and I forget what it was, but after she had finished, the candle she had blown out continue to spiral smoke up into the air, so after the smoke stopped, I got up and said that what Courtney had said, combined with watching the smoke continuing to come from the candle even after it had been blown out, made me think of how the Holy Spirit is always present, even when we think it's gone away, even when we can't perceive it.
On my lunch hour today, I finished reading Theology Without Words and started Practicing Resurrection.
Beginning to read it I had the same feeling of almost wanting to cry.
It's beautiful and compelling. And seductive -- it makes me want to have a strong Call to ordained ministry, even though I think that where I am right now is the right place for me right now.
I could talk about the moments of disconnect I have had with the book thus far, but instead I offer you this:
A few days later, I heard a story about a group of men who were in prison. They were part of the more than ten thousand political prisoners in this particular country's particular jails. It was Sunday and they wanted to celebrate communion but they had no wine, no bread, no cup, no priest.I literally cried.
"We have no bread, not even water to use as wine," their leader said to them. "But we will act as though we do."
And so he began to lead them in the communion service from the Book of Common Prayer that he had memorized over many years of attending church. When he got to the words of Jesus that are said during the Eucharistic prayer, he turned to the man standing next to him, held out his empty hands, and said, "This is my body, which is given for you."
And so they went around the circle, one by one, each man turning to the next one, opening his palms, and saying, "This is my body, given for you."
(Later on page 22, Gallagher writes: "The Eucharist is meant to call us out of our own capacity to be sacraments, one for the other.")
I was sitting on a bench in the closest thing the b-school has to a Quad. I literally shut the book and just let myself cry.
That's near the end of Chapter 1, and as I started reading Chapter 2, I decided no. I set my cell phone alarm for the end of my lunch hour (ten minutes) and sat and prayed.
re/New last night's theme was "holy spirit" and for the breakout session I was really torn between "make a pinwheel; if you like, draw or write a prayer to the spirit before folding" and Lindsay's teaching breath prayer. Ultimately I chose the latter (I prayed "renewal" for myself and "guidance" for the community).
Praying outside today I focused on my breath, did the words of the breath prayer a little but mostly just focused on my breath -- thought about some of the images Gallagher had talked about in her first chapter, gave thanks for the beautiful breeze and then prayed some other thanksgivings, prayed some intercessory petitions, recurrently wondered if my alarm would fail to go off. I sit in prayer for ~15 minutes almost every Wednesday, so I knew I could do 10 minutes, but I was still surprised at how quickly the alarm went off.
It's so easy for me to "work through my lunchbreak" -- to stick around for work-related potentialities, figuring it all comes out in the wash since I have so much downtime at my desk during which I'm doing my own stuff. (I do purchase and eat lunch, I just often eat it at my desk.)
But I have learned that actually stepping away from my desk for a solid hour a day is good for me.
Laura Ruth once told me, "You are a wonderful friend to [so-and-so]! Boundaries help me be a wonderful friend to myself. I pray that is true for you, too"
In all the "saying goodbye" and "letting go," I'd forgotten that the first theme I articulated for 2010 as this year was developing was "boundaries."
I have realized recently that pausing to say grace is really good for me -- really pausing ... not just rushing through the words, but stopping to reflect as I pray them (so probably praying out loud, or at least mouthing the words, would be good), to actually pause before I start to eat.
For dinner tonight I made Trader Joe's mac&cheese and reheated some of the falafel from church. And I sat down at the kitchen table to eat. I almost always eat in front of my computer -- which is not a great idea for a number of reasons -- but tonight I made the conscious decision to sit down at the kitchen table to eat. I brought Practicing Resurrection with me, but I actually spent much of the time just eating.
[Admittedly, I cry at nearly everything. Later today I kept almost-crying while watching Cat Valente's acceptance speech for the Norton Award for Fairyland. "The girl lost in the dark just trying to survive, and she turns to this very old, very odd, and very new, kind of magic to save her family and somehow it works, and she finds her way."]
From: MollyAnd from Molly's facebook:
Sent: Sat, May 15, 2010 4:50:16 PM
Subject: [FirstChurch Mailing List] Holy Spirit Portality.
Peter and I met with an oncologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute yesterday. He was a kind man, a gentle and very experienced doctor, and he told us that I have a very rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
It is usually a cancer that is found in the bones of teenagers, and has no known cause—just one of those things. It is rarely found outside of the bones; and also, rarely, found in adults. They believe, right now, that I had only the one tumor in my lung. Further tests next week—a bone scan and a bone marrow biopsy—will double check to see if there are tumors elsewhere, but the PET scan from Thursday didn’t show any alarming cancer-type activity elsewhere in the body.
That’s the good news. The bad news is, with this kind of cancer, cancer cells can often go undetected in the blood, for quite some time, even if the body is apparently free of tumors. For this reason, they recommend a long, intensive chemotherapy. Very soon I will start 14 rounds of chemo in two week increments. This will last last 7-9 months if I can go straight through without interruptions (endpoint sometime between Christmas and Lent). After that, they will do quarterly CT scans to check for activity, and, if I reach the 5-year mark with no recurrent growth, will consider me cancer-free.
There is a lot I don’t know yet. One thing I don’t know is what my energy and availability is going to be like while undergoing chemotherapy. I know that I will want to work some during chemotherapy, because I love my work, working with you; it is work that keeps my spirit strong and hopeful. I will be talking with the Deacons and our staff restructuring team to figure out what kind of additional staffing the church may need to function optimally during my treatment.
I will be setting up a blog to keep folks who’d like to stay abreast of details of my treatment. A blog will help me manage my time in communicating details to so many people; it will also allow you, hopefully, to check in about it at the pace that is right for you, rather than having it always across the First Church email ticker. I’m not going to pretend, in prayers, in conversation, and in the pulpit that I don’t have cancer, but this is only one part of me, and it's only one part of the fullness of our life as a church.
Brothers and sisters, you have been helpful to me and our family in countless ways these last weeks. I’m so grateful for all you’ve done, and so sorry if I have failed to tell you individually just how moving your contribution was. We feel incredibly helped by you. I also want you to know what a great network we have outside of our church: close friends, loving and present family, a spiritual director, a therapist, fantastic doctors, nurses and social workers, as well as Rev. Wendy Vanderhart, our church’s MBA/UCC area minister and my clergy friends, all of whom are taking good care of us.
The number one thing you can do for us going forward is pray vigorously. Some prayers you might pray with me:
“God, I sure hope you know what you are doing.” (this was the first one that came into my mind)
“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
“God, Jesus, Mother Mary: please cure Molly. Keep her spirit strong and cast out all cancer from her body, down to the last cell. It does not belong there; it has no place there.”
I’d also ask you to pray for peace in my family, for our sweet and sensitive children to feel God’s protection powerfully, for Peter’s peace and ability to suddenly do a million things at once while acknowledging and taking time for his own feelings and needs; and for my dad George, who has been an angel to us in this hard time.
Love, love, love to you Body of Christ, Rocks and Redeemers,
Mysteries of the Holy Spirit Portal revealed: I have Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer. Of all the things you don’t expect to be posting as your FB status update.+
Sunday at 6:40am
This week: second opinion at MGH, bone scan, bone marrow biopsy, heart test for chemo endurance, oncologist check-in. Next week: snorkeling in the Yucatan, God willing. Week after that: Chemo, chemo, chemo, from now until Groundhog Day.
Sunday at 6:41am
How much do I love that we, the Body of Christ, are Rocks and Redeemers? (per Molly's signoff on her email)
Seeing Molly at re/New last night (she sat sort of across from me in the circle) I had this deep desire to offer to step up to help with the work of First Church Somerville. But that's not my place. I will continue to be involved with the church as I have been, and that involvement may change but it will be an organic process, involving my gifts and abilities and the needs of the church. (Burnout, I do not want. I'm also not interested in trying to force a match where there's a mismatch.)