Taking a journey in time

Yesterday, we took the day for one of our favorite fall escapes–back to medieval England. The Kansas City Renaissance Festival is held every fall not too far from us…and because I am involved with playing for the graduation of the apprentices and have played for the last two coronations, we attend at least a couple of times during the season. There are many of the performers who have become friends.

There is a story line that runs through the day, although we’ve never particularly worried about following it through.

There are various musical groups–and some we look forward to hearing every year.

And there are other shows as well…a wild bird anctuary that shows (and shares information about) birds of prey they are rescuing…an incredible group of percussionist and fire dancers (there’s an article on the fire breather here)…magicians…Gypsies…jugglers…jousts…and shows that are unique to the themed weekends.

Of course, there are shops…LOTS of shops! Food shops, craft shops, pottery shops, weapon shops, clothing shops, stained glass shops…

I never go with the intention of buying–but every year I come home with something (sometimes several somethings!). Usually I end up with a piece of unique jewelry. Last year I also came home with a singing bowl.

It’s mildly bawdy. After all, it is medieval England. But the shows that are not suitable for little ears are clearly marked–and if parents decide to take their kids to them, they’ve been warned.

The bawdiest people are the ones who decide to dress up before they come out to the Faire–and sometimes I wonder if they ever bothered looking in the mirror before they left home! What were they thinking? (Or were they?)

It’s my fantasy time away from this world into a somewhat romanticized time and world–and I love it!

Better not be in a hurry!

Okay, so (as a follow-up to the previous post), I called a neurologist who specializes in MS today to see about getting in for an appointment to see what’s going on…since my mobility issues aren’t clearing up.

And…

Her January schedule won’t be available until around the first of November–and that’s the earliest I could get in. Obviously, if I decide to go with her, I won’t be finding out anytime soon if what I’m dealing with is actually an MS flare-up or if it’s just some residual damage from past flare-ups that’s creating problems.

I was going to try her because she’s in my health insurance network. The one I went to last time (about 10 years ago!) isn’t in network…but I may call him and see if I can get in any sooner, since I at least have a bit of history with him.

What I’m dealing with isn’t an emergency; if it were, I’d go to the hospital. But I would like to know a little sooner than 4-5 months from now what’s going on. Oh well…

Mobility?

Early on in our married life, we ran into a road bump. Well, actually, it was more like a mountain in the way…. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), and for the first five years that we dealt with it, it was major! I spent a number of 10-day stays in the hospital, receiving IVs of ACTH to try to stop the flare-ups.

But then it (mostly) disappeared. It left behind its calling card–some residual weakness in my legs that periodically flared up if I got too tired, too stressed, too hot (which meant that I have to be really careful when I get a fever). But that didn’t happen all that often…and when it did, it didn’t last all that long.

During that time, I said to myself that if I ever had to deal with the MS “stuff” again, I would simply thank God for the good run I’ve had–and deal with grace with what happens. That’s much easier to say when it’s not actually happening!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been having significant mobility issues. They started out rather gently; in other words, my body was warning me that there were going to be some problems (warning signs that I’ve learned to heed).

So I started wearing my brace shoe…to keep my foot from dragging. It’s still dragging.

I started using my cane for support. I’ve now graduated to using my cane and/or walker around home…and my Amigo (electric cart) at work.

I find I’m still doing the “dipsy-doo” as my leg tends to buckle and my foot tends to drag. My legs (both of them to some extent, but especially my left leg) feel heavy when I walk.

So…

Right now my mobility is dependent on my various devices. Is it going to clear up? I hope so–but I’ve not had issues like this for quite a while without having had a fever. So who knows?

I guess right now the bigger question is whether I’m going to actually live up to what I’ve said for so many years…to thank God for the good run of mobility I’ve had–and deal with grace with what is.

September 12…now what?

So…it’s now September 12. We’ve relived (and rehashed) the experiences of September 11…we’ve had our services of memorial and remembrance (and many of them have been beautiful experiences).

Now what?

Do we want to spend the next ten years still reliving and rehashing? And have a 25th anniversary memorial? Please understand–I am not negating the significance of the loss that so many families experienced…and for them, it may be very important to have those memorial experiences.

But what about us as a society? as a nation? as a world community?

I do think it is important for us to acknowledge significant events…life-changing events. But I hope we can do it in a way that helps move us forward, not that keeps us stuck in the past. I hope we can find ways of using those events to help bring us together–not push us further apart.

9/11 was a life-changing event–for individuals, for us as a nation, for the world community.

Can 9/12 also be one? an opportunity to make a commitment to seeing others as brothers and sisters of one global family? to commit to working together towards God’s shalom…God’s wholeness for the whole earth that God created?

A prayer for September 11

Several years ago I purchased 2000 Years of Prayer, a collection of prayers from around the world, and it has been an incredibly useful resource.

While there are many prayers in there that I like and that have spoken to me in different times and situations, I bought it because when I first opened it, I read one specific prayer–and that prayer sent chills down my spine. It’s a prayer that I think is incredibly appropriate as we move into this weekend that commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The prayer was found beside the body of a dead child in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. I don’t know who wrote it–a guard? an inmate? It doesn’t really matter. It’s a prayer for–and from–all of us:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will,  but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us.

Remember the fruits we bought, thanks to this suffering: the comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

Let it be so.

“The least of these…”

I spent last weekend at a retreat. Not just any retreat, but one sponsored by GALA (Gay and Lesbian Acceptance). This was our second year attending. We’ve become (and are becoming) part of this community the last couple of years in very personal ways. It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been a blessing…and this year was no exception.

We were a somewhat smaller group, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We heard–and shared–stories with each other. Sometimes stories of incredible pain and exclusion…but there were also stories of incredible acceptance and love.

We shared in laughter and games.

We enjoyed the challenge of a silent auction…wondering who was going to get the last bid on. The most popular items were some sets of jams…one set of 4 jams went for over $30, another for $27.

We shared our talents with each other…comic and more serious.

And we shared in a moving service that included an Agape meal. We began with singing–singing songs of joy and hope, songs of challenge. We shared in offering…and then we shared in sharing Christ’s meal. Those who offered it were selected because they embodied various aspects of the Christ–one who has been a member of our faith tradition for all of her life, but has never been allowed to be a “full” member…has always been on the outside because of who she is; one who is the hope of the future, a young woman who was presentative of the LGBT youth who were present…who is our future; and one who is the institutional representative, the ordained minister. The three of them represented different aspects of the one God–diversity united in one.

As the bread and grape juice were offered to each one present–many of whom have been deeply hurt in the past by being excluded from Christ’s body–by these friends, I was reminded of the scripture (Matthew 25:39-41) that says (my paraphrase) “When you minister to the least of these–those who are ignored or marginalized–you minister to me.” These were “the least”…at least in the eyes of many.

And I was reminded of just how much we need each other. When we marginalize others, we are marginalizing Christ…and we all lose.