Saturday, September 24, 2016

         
           NEUROPATHY AND THE TIN MAN

One of my favorite childhood movies was The Wizard of Oz (1939). As a ten year old, I identified with the cowardly lion, who needed courage. I was such a repressed, timid person.  Now, seventy seven years later I identify with the Tin Man. Not that I need a heart, for my mind, heart and soul are well. For years I have battled peripheral neuropathy, which is getting progressively worse. Like the Tin Man, all my joints need lubrication. I have no feeling in my feet and legs, due to the death of nerves, As Marlene Dodinval, of The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy , has said, "When the nerves are dead, they  are dead. And there is nothing you can do about it" What this means is a major  change of life style.  Due to loss of balance and the propensity of falling I l live in mortal fear of a major fall. I am wedded to my walker, "till death do us part." This means loss of former joys, like driving.  walking, traveling, attending sports events, et.  al. It also causes loss of sleep, since every time I move in my sleep, I wake up..I have to be extremely careful making short turns, since it is so easy to slip and fall. Nights can become a challenge, too, since I have no feeling in my feet; they are like dead weights which can lead to treacherous falls. It is difficult at time to get up from a chair, and getting into a car is often slow and painful. Like it or not, I feel I am 50% disabled. No cures or relief have been found,. I have tried medicine and electrical stimulation but to no avail. Yet, I have little complaints. I  am among the lucky ones. I have little pain, only numbness, and I do not have diabetic neuropathy. My problem stems from genetic causes  (darn those Lyon genes). Furthermore,  at 87+ years, my mind is still active, and I remain amazed at how much I can  do on my PC. I find keeping my mind occupied helps to control the discomfort, always lurking on the horizon. And I  discover I can make my way using my faithful walker,  to do volunteer work where I live. For many years i have worked with people with dementia, and been an advocate for caregivers. That concern will continue.In the meantime, I intend to reach out to others suffering from neuropathy, to share our common battle against this crippling disease. THEN, in God's time, the Great Wizard will grant me  the gift of a new body. Then I can walk and run and go everywhere. Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty  Free at last!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

                                 

                              I WISH

In all my years I have never known such a corrupted, convoluted campaign for President of the U.S.  On both sides, it has degenerated into a barrage of insults, slams and a "I said, you said" fiasco.Years ago one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner, wrote these words about politicians:
"Suppose a candidate were to stand up before the reporters and the TV cameras and say something like this "The literal survival of civilization may depend on the decisions that I or one of the other candidates make during the next four years. The general welfare and peace of mind of millions of people will certainly depend on them... I believe that the survival and well being of the human race as a whole is more important than the partisan interests of any group, including both theirs and ours." In all the endless rhetoric and rudeness,I hear little concern  about the welfare of this country and the safety of the world. We have lost the dignity and calm presence  of the statesperson. Instead, both candidates lack putting the concerns and well being of this country and the peace of the world before their own selfish agendas. and attacks on the other. God help us!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

STILL A MYSTERY

Einstein once wrote,  'Life (and death) is like a child seeing many books in a library. He knows someone must have written those books, but does not know who or why. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the the arrangement of the books, but doesn't know what is. It seems to me, that this is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."When I became 80, I realized most of life had gone, so I began an intensive study of the life beyond this life. I read many books, mainly about Near Death Experiences, the latest being Jeffrey Long's God and the After Life. I am still a honest skeptic about these NDEs, and since they are out of the realm of my experience, I just don't know.  Seven years later, death and the life after life remains a mystery. I do intend to make a fuller study of the 40 days of Jesus between Easter and the Ascension, since I believe this is our only hold on eternity. So, I believe that death and whatever may happen after death is a journey into the unknown. Like Abram, who journeyed into the unknown,   but went in faith, so I look forward to what lies beyond, to a  future of marvel and surprise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

GOLD IN THE VAULT


Years ago I served as parish associate at the First Presbyterian Church Morganton, NC where Steve Eason was senior minister. I sent Steve some of my books, and he responded with a nice letter. He wrote, "I treasure these connections that last over the years; the older you get, the more they mean to you. This is  gold in the vault." As one grows older, the circle of friendship narrows to only a precious few.  Shakespeare wrote," I count myself in nothing so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends." One such friend is Jack. Our friendship spans over 30 years, and has stood the test of time and  distance. Now we live over 500 miles apart, but we keep in touch by phone and email. Jack keeps me up on news from the town where I once lived, and the church where I served. Jack is indeed, "gold in the vault." I live in a retirement community where many friends have died. And to lose them to death is the beginning of one's own. So, friends from the past mean a lot. I can talk about sports with men friends here, (but never politics). But there is an inner circle of "soul friends," past and present with whom I can bare my soul.  These soul friends like my wife, Alice Ann, my brothers Howard and John, and my spiritual director, Jane Thibault, continue to bless my life. As the poet, WB Yeats said  so well, "That's where man's glory begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends." 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

BROKEN CHORDS VIBRATE ONCE MORE

I still have happy memories of my older sister, Patricia, who died some time ago from vascular dementia. Earlier, Pat's ministry was to play the piano in nursing homes, where many residents suffered from dementia. Once, I went with her as she played some of the old tunes. Residents with dementia who rarely spoke and usually were slumped in their seats, suddenly came to life. They tapped their feet and swayed with the music, and some  even sang the words. I still remember one dear lady, with that usual  blank expression, had a light on her face as she sang  the words of the old Gospel hymn, In  the Garden, "And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and tells me I am his own.' It was a taste of Resurrection in that somewhat dreary place. Wherever heaven is, I believe Pat still plays the piano for healed souls and lost memories restored. For years my wife, Alice Ann, and I did worship in Memory Care facilities. Often I felt a failure when I used words, but when we sang, it was a different matter. "Chords that were broken vibrate once more." I learned that when ability to engage in conversation and abstract thought had gone, music endured. Music had reached beyond dementia to the soul.  We always ended with a favorite chorus written by David Haas,

Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name,
Come and follow me,
I will bring you home, 
I love you and you are mine.

YES!