September 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm #3931
Please click on reply all to share your best ideas, questions, reactions to the Preface and chapters 1 – 4.
September 17, 2018 at 10:43 am #3942
I realized that I posted this last week under “introductions” instead of “week 1 discussions”. So this is what I posted…
I have read the Preface and through Chapter 3. I really like the was Bill writes. It feels like he’s sitting next to me telling me his story. I was particularly struck by a few things. First… standing with families as they sit “the death vigil” with a loved one. It is that moment that they realize there are no more minutes left to change something, say something, forgive, ask for forgiveness. I have watched gratitude for a life well lived. I have watched anger, fear, guilt. I have set with a family member while they died with the rest of the family in the ICU waiting room because they wanted to be there, but they just couldn’t be physically present in the process. “Come get us when it’s over” they said. I realize that some folks can sit vigil and some can’t. It in interesting that you can detect the type of relationship between the person who has died and the one who is grieving by the response at the time of death.
I experienced some of all of that when my brothers, sister, and I sat vigil with my mom the last week of her life (she died about 2.5 years ago). She was unresponsive but we could hear her breathing for the last three days. The night she died, it just suddenly went quiet. She was 93, tired, and ready to go. I knew it would be a relief for her, but I was her main caregiver (she lived in an assisted living facility and I lived 2 blocks around the corner). I grieved and was relieved all in the same breath.
I was especially taken with Chapter 3 – Bill’s own cancer journey. I have been invited to stand on some really sacred ground with folks. They tend to thank me at the end of a heart-to-heart talk, but it is my person opinion that it is their sacred ground and the only way I get to stand on their sacred ground is by invitation. I find it a privilege and honor to be invited onto someone’s sacred ground. I like the orientation/disorientation image.
I look forward to reading Chapter 4… and beyond.
Thank you Bill for leading this discussion.
September 19, 2018 at 11:16 am #3945
Good morning all. It is Wednesday, September 19 and the year just keeps on flying by. In reading Chapter 4 on Community… I am reminded of the importance of community (however one chooses to define that). Bill, your discussion about solitude, the need to begin there, and that “maybe, just maybe, God will get a word in as well. Given a chance, God turns our attention to others and their needs. Out of our solitude come community and service to others”… I also find that to be true. As I sit in solitude and quiet (which I don’t do nearly as often as I should) God calls to mind those in need. And God nudges me to show up and care. When folks tell me they couldn’t do my job, I tell them it isn’t that complicated – all you have to do is show up and care. Your reminder that “while it is Jesus who cures, it is the community that has the power to enable”.
And your discussion on Compassion not Judgment was yet another reminder for me. To be honest, I struggle with that. Even now there is a patient I am dealing with who has lung cancer, is in and out of my hospital, and continues to drag her medicine pole outside to smoke multiple times a day. I want to yell at this patient to STOP SMOKING!!!!! And yet I realize there was a time in my life that I was 80 pounds overweight and very unhealthy. Did I lose weight when people kept telling me I would feel better if I did. NO!!! While I did eventually do that – it took me well into my middle adult years to do that. Do I feel better? Of course. Do I wish I had lost the weight when I was 25? Absolutely. But I had to decide that for myself. So helping by judging is certainly not helpful.
I am a Baby Boomer so I recall those times when a phone in your house meant a party line with the neighbors, when you knew your neighbors and you knew that if you did something stupid they would not hesitate to inform your parents, and when you spent Friday nights “cruising Main” to see friends, stopping often in the parking lots to talk through the car windows. While technology makes it much easier for me to stay connected to my good friends on the West coast – it is also a reason to text rather than call. And when we don’t feel good, when life sucks, we need those phone calls and visits. A quick text is fine, but you can’t see the look on a face, to discern if the truth is being told. I worked with a pastor some 25 odd years ago who told the congregation that she had a “ministry of absence” so we wouldn’t get dependent on her. The congregation bought it. I didn’t. Just being present with folks is powerful… show up and care.
Thank you Bill, for giving me things to ponder, for reminding me that I need to put my judgments away, for reading my thoughts.
October 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm #3964
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.
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