Saturday, October 07, 2006

Family Time

This is one of my precious nieces and nephews --- isn't she dear? A great great gift to me is my family! We had a fabulous summer vacation together in our childhood stomping grounds for summer vacation --- Onamia, Minnesota and Mille Lacs Lake, and later Gull Lake. We shared a large Van Risseghem- Anderson Family Reunion day with extended family and great history and memories shared. I loved being with cousins (Jeanne caught the most fish!) and aunts and uncles and my brother and sisters and all the nieces and nephews. Jumping off a floating raft with Amelia my niece and looking for crawdads at night...enjoying the annual family talent show....and visiting gran'pa's farm. The sense of place, and shared history and loving investment over the years just restores some soul! The history of immigrant grandparents, living very very simply through harsh winters and Depression times with strong faith in God to guide them leaves a deep impression and legacy. The hard work with hands and with the land...clearing it of rocks and cultivating it over years to produce abundantly -- all are a great legacy. I want the seeds of love sown long ago to be planted again and again in season, tended to produce a great crop in my own life and in my family. May God make it so. Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Candle on the Dinner Table.....

I lit a candle after Chepe and Julio and I sat down to dinner.... The week had been long for them I had learned --with one of the teens mothers in bed ill all week and the other mother was drunk --- both little families in the same slum hotel apartment sharing the nightmare. The 20 year old daughter of the ill woman was the peacemaker over the wild drunken tantrums, throwing things and running into the walls. She had called desperate for me to get the boys out of the apartment. They came hot, hot, hot and we made homemade lasagna together in a lot of heat. They seemed not to mind at all and enjoyed the time. Me too! The drunken mother was very sad at times inconsolably as she relived the memory of her beloved husband and three sons being killed in front of her in El Salvador on a Christmas morning in the early 80's.

While I have little by many standards, I have so much. And one thing you can experience in the city is that blessing of sharing. One who has no yard can enjoy another who has a tiny yard. One who has no teeny place for a few flowers can enjoy another who has a mere patch for this. And today is one of those days. The relative peace of my apartment can be shared today when these boys need it more than they can possibly speak.

We sat down to our homemade lasagne and salad and I turned out the light and lit a candle and prayed for us and for them and for their mothers and sister. A few minutes into our meal, Julio asked the question, "Where did you learn how to eat a dinner like this?" When I asked what he meant by "like this" he responded, "Like eating a supper with a candle on the table --- who would ever think of that?" I explained that it was a way to honor the special people present, and to acknowledge the presence of God with us --- making the meal a celebration of the love of God --right with us.

What a privilege to break bread with these young boys ----- to light a candle for them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Con Man " finds his Con-science

He had come several times to my door over many months - always polite and gentle. He would knock on my door and then chat a bit and have me sign a log of donors for a large local mission for homeless men. He would give me printed literature from the mission. Though I never gave him very much money -- I usually scraped a couple dollars to donate. This night, he came and was coughing and sounded pretty sick. It was rather cold out, so I naively offered for him to come inside. He declined. I asked him if they paid him to do this or if it was volunteer. He noted that he was paid 20 cents on the dollar. He said he got off at 9pm and this was about 8 30pm. Then I told him that I didn't have any cash and asked to pay by check...and he was agreeable. I told him I used to work at the mission myself. He noted that I am gone a lot in the evenings....
Then he asked me if I spoke Spanish and I said that I did...but I didn't get any sense that he did and I didn't see him knocking on any of my Latino neighbor's doors either. We shook hands warmly and he left. I felt something didn't seem right. Why is someone recruiting funds for the mission in my poor neighborhood??? and at night at that???

The next morning I called the mission and found out that they do NOT solicit any funds door to door and that they know there are imposters rolling in the dough out there. I put a stop to my check and wondered if this guy would try to mess with my account or steal my identity. I prayed for him. I felt that I actually liked this guy and I prayed that he would have some kind of moment of examination of conscience as he held that check in his hand. I want him to choose to do the right thing! I want to believe that he can change and turn from this life of a con-artist. I feel that I can trust no one when these things happen all around me. God help this man to change from a mirage to a man of substance and godly character -- for real! Please!

I opened the mail today. A letter from the LA Mission with the enclosed check they had received but which had been stopped by me. My man had taken that check to the Mission to its intended place to bless. It likely took some effort for him to take it or send it. I take this as early evidence that God is answering my prayer. Pray for me that I will know how to respond to him the next time he may come to my door.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Benedictions over Ingrown Toenails

My goggles were steaming up from the heat in the room. The sterile instrument tray I had carefully set up was beside me and I could feel the perspiration come through my white coat and my double gloved hands. My patient was nervous but holding both feet steady as I worked to remove three ingrown nails all at one sitting....and not betray that this longer procedure had blown my schedule for the morning. I was trying so hard to concentrate and had let my casual conversation lapse into silence. I knew he was HIV positive and had some very long waiting lists for attention for this, which lead to months of delays in getting the help he needed. Months of pain and he felt barely able to walk. Gracias a Dios, all had gone well and I pulled back from the table with the blood stained drapes in my hand. "You did so very well!" I said. He pulled himself upright from the bed, and looked straight into my eyes with meaning, "Doctora---I really love you." I marvelled -- for surely no patient I have ever had, has said those words to me even after ONE ingrown nail removal! Our eyes met, and hands clasped before he left, and I spoke blessing to him -- that God would bless his life and feet and walk him into the destiny He has for him. We had shared mutual benedictions at the end of our unusual meeting.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A time of Celebration...

These weeks have marked some celebrations -- Easter, Birthdays of Katy and Alex my sister and her husband's twins, and my sister Mary and I marked our birthdays. We are Irish twins which just means that we are less than a year apart from each other in age. Another celebration was Joe getting out of an unjust prison sentence. It looked like there was no way out of it - no one understood these charges that should have been off the record a year ago. He was sentenced to 80 days in prison and then -- a miracle! The judge re-reviewed the case and someone came in on Holy Thursday to let him out of jail! We celebrate that the cockroaches which have had a booming population with the rains in LA this year...finally have been more quiescent! My InnerChange friends celebrated with Willie -- who is now one whole year out of prison, free of alcohol and drugs, and with a good job and health insurance and now is engaged!
This is a miracle! Today I celebrated with Ivan -- a survivor of the holocaust--- his 89th birthday! We had lunch at Langer's Deli a neighborhood Jewish Deli at 7th and Alvarado.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Getting Your Night Vision

I went on a fabulous night hike last weekend in the mountains but it was pretty dark! Our naturalist, Peter, asked us to not turn on a light so that we could acquire our "night vision." Indeed, slowly our eyes accustomed to the dark or rather sought out the light that was in fact already there. As my week would continue, on Wednesday night my women friends and I studied John 11 (in Lectio Divina style). Jesus told his disciples that without the light of this world we will stumble in the dark. Later He says that "I am the Light of the world." Sometimes when we are in dark places in life, and the Light is dim we need to look for the light rather than flash around some artificial light that keeps us from getting the ability to see the true light. It is amazing that we are so Light avid --- that we have a natural tendency to be drawn to the Light. Even a low watt strength of light like 4 watts will keep us from stumbling in the dark on the way to the bathroom. How much more with the Light of the world keep us from stumbling on our Journey of Life!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Power to Bless

"The greatest power in primitive religion is the power of "curse."...."We have all come through the primitive fears in our childhood existence. No one can escape the various aspects of some curse upon feelings; these include sex, anger, death, or even love. These feels of curse are increased where there is illegitimacy, minority status, prolonged disease, deformity, poverty, grief, or extreme ridicule. Adults tend to play childrens games when they isolate the black man, shun the leper, laugh at the hunchback or the retarded, slander the poor, and ridicule the mentally ill. They are only trying to relieve their self-rejection by rejecting outwardly."
"The Christ-Spirit does not reserve the blessing for the intelligent, the affluent, the white, the fortunate, the healthy, the wise, and the productive. It is really no respecter of race, religion, rank, power, past achievement, or personal piety. ...."
"The cross sets off the rage of the human race because all special claims are done away with, and the origin and power of all healing and blessing begins with God, who sees and knows us as we are."

-- from THE POWER TO BLESS by Dr. Myron C. Madden 1970 Broadman Press

May we find the power, the wherewithall-- to bless even our enemies, even those who curse . If cursing seems like the structural beams---may blessing encroach like billions of teeny subatomic particles coming in between the woodwork, under the doors and pouring in through the walls of life perhaps seemingly small and insignificant but persistent and pervasive -- and more core to the air we breathe for our existence than the visible reality of cursing in front of us. Like ultraviolet light, like xrays, like gases and so many things unseen --may we never doubt the power of blessing and the heart of our Father to bless. May we walk in the footsteps of our Father who blesses us and desires to make us a blessing to the nations.