Thursday, January 27, 2005

Covered in Love & Prayers

As I begin typing I am in Frank's office. After today’s round of EP chemo he felt up to working a few hours today. It is a good thing that I am generally able to work where ever I can find a phone and sometimes a computer and or read. I'm blessed to have a flexible job. There's the “built in” inflexibility that Sunday always happens every 7th day, but beyond that I am able to make appointments with folks and be hither and yon and do tasks on the fly. I am appreciative that my work enables me to be present for Frank during this time.

I serve a really wonderful congregation. For the record, I'm not saying that just because several of them are reading this. We are truly blessed to be in such a good place. And not just ‘cause they are good in a crisis such as this; they are good all the time.

Tuesday night's meeting was for the committee that deals with pastor issues to do some of their yearly paperwork. It gave them an opportunity to once again let them let me know how much they are supporting us. It also gave them an opportunity to hear from me how they can help.

Very simply, they have told me to do what I need to do to be present for Frank; they want it to be my top priority. They want him to have the best care and in turn they want only the best for me too. In the same way I've asked them to let me know when I need to poke my head above the cloud of cancer and pay attention to them. Also, one of them has agreed to be the point person for carry in meals, so I don’t have to coordinate that too. This is important because an indication that I’m tired, the following has happened more than once this week: I get on the elevator of the two story building of the cancer center. I’m by myself and I just stand there. The door opens back up for people to get on and lo, I will still on the ground floor! I’d forgotten to press the button…..


Balancing family and work is something that I’m still working on mastering. Perhaps that is why we’ve not yet had children, our days are so often full with the lives we are living. I am constantly amazed by the women and men at church who have families. Their level of involvement and commitment to the church as well as their participation in their kids and their kids’ activities is so high. Some of them do too much, some of them are simply wonderful. You can tell they are doing something right because the kids are really good kids.

But I digress.

There is no doubt in my mind that Frank comes 1st, but I have a strong desire to be super-professional in my life as a clergy person. (One of my biggest disappointments with clergy peers is that some appear to not be striving for professionalism. Granted some of that is b/c of my super high standards; they are quite possibly doing what they do very well, but very differently than I do. On some level I am OK with this...).

I am pulled. My heart, my love, my life is sick and at the same time I have a desire to remain fully present for my church. I know that their lives don't go into a holding pattern just because my life seems to have. I have a desire to remain fully present because I'm their pastor. I have a desire to be full of integrity in all things that I do, first of course in taking care of Frank, but a close second is taking care of them, it's my job, I'm a pastor.

I'm reminded of the movie Saving Grace. An older woman who is a gardener is asked by some younger not-so-bright neighbors to look in on some plants of theirs that are not doing so well. Crawling through the underbrush of the trees that are hiding the crop of marijuana, she dutiful tends to the sick plants. She brings them back to health and increases the production as well as quality of the stuff by helping them build a state of the art greenhouse. On some level she knows that they are illegal, but she needs the money too AND her passion in life is to care for plants. When asked why, she shrugs and in her British accent says, "the plants were sick, and I'm a gardener." In other words she is compelled, regardless of circumstance to help. In this same vein I shrug and say with my accent, "y’all are the people of God, and I'm a pastor."

Ok, enough of me.

Frank's round today went faster than before. His nurse didn't hook him up to a pump, but just let the river flow so to speak. The bags on the IV pole let gravity do its job. It may have felt faster too because I had a dentist appointment and then when I got there he wanted the MK chicken noodle soup that was back at home. I drove home and packed a lunch and drove back (round trip about 40 minutes).

The end of round one week one and I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Mom transported him to chemo this am and sat with him under the new BRIGHT quilt she made him. She reports that he slept a lot. (Was it because he forgot his sunglasses and had to have his eyes closed so as to not be blinded by the quilt? We’ll never know.) No sooner was lunch done in the microwave in the chemo food room (sounds like the chemo has to eat) and he was ready to go. Ok by me!

The nausea is better today; some medicinal adjustments seem to be working. The hiccups were pretty brutal last night, but we should be able to medicate them away as we are learning how to manage the many bottles of controlled substances held in the Sponge Bob lunch box. ;-)

After we got home from his office he crashed on the sofa in the fading sunlight of this winter day under the new prayer blanket he received yesterday from a red headed wee one. This wee one evidently helped her mommy make it by saying prayers like "God bless Frank, he's sick, and he has a boo-boo" as they tied the knots around the edges. He’s got a soft place for red heads. Who doesn’t really? Especially the really cute ones….

The Sponge Bob prayer blanket. Posted by Hello

Peace y'all,
The Rev.