Mary M. Wrye
I have finished readying your book, Bill. There is so much in there that I resonated with, that challenged me, that taught me.
Your chapter on Poverty was unsettling and eye-opening. Coming from a family of 4 kids, mom & dad growing up in a small town – “home” was always THERE. I never had to worry about not having a bed to sleep in, food on the table, clean clothes in the closet. Home was a place of security, stability, belonging, trust… and therefore rest. I can’t imagine how difficult (I use that word because I can’t seem to find the word I really want) it would be to go to school and not know if you would be living in the same place when the school day was over. I can’t know the anxiety or frustration. But it certainly was an “ah ha” moment when you talked about the importance of church as community to the unsettled, the migratory, the homeless… for whom community is often illusive.
As well as your statement that “perhaps the rich and powerful oppose justice for the poor because justice demands the sharing of wealth.” We applaud folks like Bill & Linda Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres… for their generosity but quietly say to ourselves “well they have plenty to give so it’s really no big deal”. But it really does beg the question… could I live with less so others could have more? That’s where it hits home for me.
In Chapter 9 on Racism I was reminded of a book I read “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. You and Picoult pushed me to face my own racial insensitivities. While I consider myself welcoming and accepting – I must confess I have triggers that will send me into judgments that ought not be. I continue to work on that.
Chapter 10 – Prayer… I loved your opening on “I see God…”. I wrote similar things: one in 2009 after a severe ice storm in our area (I’m in eastern KY about 2 hours from Louisville) when our hospital housed, fed, and took care of community folks who lost electricity and needed it to power their oxygen generators (among other needs) for the better part of 2 weeks. The other after a difficult episode of C-Diff, a week’s hospital stay, and seven weeks of house confinement.
Chapter 11 – Miracles… As you began – coincidence or miracle, I thought of the old adage of the difference of major and minor surgery. It’s minor when it happens to you and major when it happens to me. I too have sat at bedside and listened to folks describe their “miracles”. Was it a TRUE miracle or medically explainable? Depends… did it happen to you or someone else? I am curious about the man in the ED who stated that he didn’t know if he believed in God but he certainly would not if his child died. Would he have claimed otherwise if his child had been ok? People “of faith” often add the very heavy burden of “if you only had enough faith – God would heal you” guilt. I am a right leg, above the knee amputee (born with no tibia or fibula) and was told by a fellow seminary student that I am “handicapped” because I didn’t have enough faith for God to heal me! My best friend ever so wisely told me that my living out my faith and my calling WAS my healing!!!
Chapter 13 – There is a point that you ask the question “SHOULD we do this?” with the answer “yes we CAN”. When I was doing my CPE at the Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, SC – I would sit in on the Ethics Committee meetings. The chair always started each discussion by saying “the question is not what CAN we do – but what SHOULD we do”. That has stuck with me for 15 years.
Thank you for offering your book, your thoughts, and your time. Doing all that in the midst of your own health and family crises – must have been exhausting. I am most grateful.