Chaplain Tortoise

turtleplanking
From an unknown artist, speaking my truth.

There is progress. Slow and steady. Chaplain Tortoise,  here, is almost ready to go back to work on Tuesday!

Almost 2 weeks out from surgery, I’m feeling encouraged. (I’ll spare you a picture of my knee, minus the sutures.) The swelling is going down and I’m able to do simple things like stand up and sit down without pain. I can navigate steps (going up is easier than going down) but still find it difficult to do things like pick up a bag of groceries from the floor, or squat. (I probably could squat, but someone would have to rescue me.)

Now, as my surgeon says, I have a “better” knee, but I do not have a “healthy” knee. It will take some babying and strict rehab to get closer to normal functioning. And, though I hate to say it, I will have to start going to the gym regularly. My whole body will benefit (and I know this), but I’m just not someone who enjoys working out. And most of my friends are readers and knitters, not joggers and weight-lifters.

One of the realities I am facing, though, is that to get back to my personal “best” it will take some work. So I decided to check out the local gyms and fitness clubs, just to get a jump start on where I will end up after PT.

It was… interesting.

There was one that smelled like every high school gymnasium you’ve ever been in, minus the pull-out bleachers and whistles. Yeah… no.

There was one that appeared to have delusions of grandeur, with hardwood floors and a “eucalyptus” steam room. (Why? I don’t know). And a “day spa” where I could get a bikini wax and a facial after I work out. (Um. No.)

There was one that had row after row after row of treadmills and row machines, and not much else. Also no one on the floor who could teach a newbie how to use these things. My comment to the salesperson: “Look. I got this knee injury from walking. On a flat surface. I need a little more than a smile and wave.”

There was one that had pushy sales staff and warned me that “the price will go up if you don’t sign today.” (My response? “Oh well. Your loss.”)

Then there was the guy who schmoozed so much, I thought we would be meeting up with our spouses for a drink this weekend. Dude. I’m just looking for a place to work out. Your son is not marrying my daughter! (Creepy.)

And… my last stop, when I was almost ready to say fuggedaboudit, my search yielded a place with fairly normal people. People who get that I am not interested in being anything other than a better version of my best self. I think I’ll probably end up there. We’ll see.

I’m operating at a lower speed than normal, which has been frustrating. However, listening to my body has been key. (My knee definitely YELLS at me when I try to do too much!) Stepping back into mindfulness practices, I remembered that knowing and caring for myself is the best way to walk into a healthier me.

So for now, I’m Chaplain Tortoise… taking those baby steps towards healing. Slow and steady wins the race.

Echoing Footsteps

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
– Alfred Lloyd Tennyson 

Our congregation is taking a “slowed-down” approach to Lent this year. Our main theme is “Restore My Soul” – finding ways to feel renewed and refreshed in the faith. We are focusing on being “un-busy.” There’s just too much in our culture that fights against a deeper, richer spiritual life.

I chose to use coloring again for my personal Lenten discipline as a means of reflection and self-expression. Especially with my current physical challenges from knee surgery, I need to be intentional in reflecting and listening to the Divine. So, I pulled out one of my favorite coloring books which has page after page of labyrinths to color. I flipped open to a fresh page and saw this:

labyrinthpast

The colors of a completed labyrinth from a previous Lent bled through the page opposite of the new labyrinth I began coloring today. I paused to wonder, “What echoes from my past am I walking with today??”

Positive or negative, challenges or success stories, I have internalized all of these past events. Some memories are faded, others push through with more of an impact. All of them are a part of me. All of them are essential to who I am and how I serve as a pastor and a chaplain. And even the hardest memories can be an asset and inform how I serve. But they also can be triggers and block me from doing my best.

Stumbling. Falling. Trying again. That’s a life that walks with Christ, day after day, year after year. Walking in the Divine’s grace and love. Always until forever.

Blessed be.

ALL the things

On Monday, I am having a knee scoped to tend to some irritations and pain I’ve been dealing with since Labor Day. As anyone knows, even “minor” surgery requires a lot of preparation. It’s been a hectic few weeks. Squeezing in extra visits to patients, and getting all the requisite paperwork filed. Then there were doctor’s visits, physical therapy sessions, and lab tests. I tried to be organized without being crazy about it.

Friday afternoon, I tied up loose ends at work, changed the message on my work phone, and signed off on my caseload. I felt pretty good, but was honest about my feelings of trepidation.

I came home to a to-do list a mile long. Laundry, cooking, groceries, and errands, plus paying bills. I also put away the last Christmas decorations! (Hey! It’s barely into Lent! That’s an accomplishment.) I started looking for the info I need for our taxes. I treated myself to a nice relaxing pedicure Saturday afternoon.

Someone said, “you look so CALM!” But inside, I was acting out Allie Brosh’s art:

cleanallthethings
(c) Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a half

Clean all the things!
File all the things!
Wash all the things!
Do all the things! ALL of them!

Yeah. I’m calm on the outside, crazed on the inside.

It’s ironic and, at the same time, fortuitous that this year’s Lenten focus is on REST. Reconnecting with the Creator God who knows us best, and understands our needs. And even commands us to rest! (Oh yeah. That.) And it’s almost funny-not-funny that in our Lenten sermon series, I am preaching on…REST.  The Divine’s sense of humor is unreal.

So for what it’s worth, there many things left undone on my to-do list. There are tasks I will have to deal with when I have a brain post-surgery later this week. And, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that will stay “un-done” until someone (possibly not even me) gets to it.

And yes. I’ll rest. And let my body do the healing work it needs to do. And be very, very intentional about finding Rest in the One who knows and loves me best.

As my burdens bury deep into my heart
And the pressure starts to suffocate my soul

Your voice calls out from the clamor
Drawing me close to where You are
I rise up out of the chaos
Fall to my knees and meet with You

My soul finds rest, my soul finds rest in You
My heart will sing in the shelter of Your wings

Rest in You, by DK Worship, featuring Andrea Folet

 

 

 

When we are dust

A woman pastor’s Hand with ground in ashes from Ash Wednesday

When we are dust…

Will our passions live on
In the hearts of those
We taught by our example?

Will anyone know
What made our very bones sing
With deep joy?

Will the dreams for our children’s
And grandchildren’s futures
Be realized?

When we are dust…

Will we have lived into
The joyous “Hallelujah!”
The holy Presence
The final rest
Our souls have waited for?

When we are dust…

Whine Mode

Kneepain. Deb’s knee with an ice pack on it.
Ice pack on/off. Stretch. Exercise. Repeat.

I’m not happy. (Just being honest!)

Despite following orders, taking meds, doing physical therapy exercises, acupuncture, listening to my body, using all the herbs and tinctures, following a modified yoga practice, and the RICE protocol… it’s clear that my achy-breaky-knee will need more assertive treatment.

So… I’m having an arthroscopic procedure on March 11th, and will have to take some time off work. I have health insurance, and even disability if I need it! I have great support from family and friends. I have comfy positioning pillows and crutches. I have people already praying for me!

It’s a common procedure. The results will help with a better plan forward and (hopefully) avoid anything drastic.

But I’ve been in “whine mode” pretty much all day.

Even with the loveliness of a March snow falling outside my window. I’m whining. Even with the support and love of my spouse. I’m whining. Even while I had time to do some sewing, some reading, and then a holy nap… I’m whining.

I know all shall be well. This too shall pass. Yadda yadda. I’ll get over myself. I promise. But for right now, I’m whining.

That’s real life. Real struggle. Real feelings. And a very Real Presence walking through it all with me. Even… when I’m whining.

“…the greatest of these is Love.”

I am sharing this video so that it gets the widest possible audience to my friends and followers. I am one of many clergy who wanted to speak out loud these words of love and affirmation. Thanks to Drew Konow of the Religious Institute for curating this project.

To my beloved siblings in Christ in the United Methodist Church:
I am grieved with you at the decisions made this week which exclude LGBTQIA clergy and members from full welcome and inclusion. I hurt for the things that were said on the floor and on social media that discriminated against you. I am praying for you. You are wonderful, gifted and Called to serve the Church and the World. You are needed. You are loved.

 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13