Sunday, November 27, 2016

Small Moves, Small Moves

As I've been recovering from my surgery, my world has narrowed.  My bed, my room, my house.  Just stepping outside the front door feels like an adventure.  For someone who is usually very active and busy, I have had to adjust my expectations.  I'm amazed at the joy I find in achieving the smallest things each day.  I've also been amazed at how hard it is to keep my daily goals small and doable.  I'm reminded of the movie, Contact, with Jodie Foster, in which the child, Ellie Arroway, (Jenna Malone) is adjusting the dial of a ham radio receiver in an attempt to make contact with someone out there.  As her father watches her frustration, he advises, "Small moves, Ellie, small moves."

Small moves, Lauren.  Small moves.  The past two weeks have been about setting small goals and then achieving them.  Or not. Sometimes I pick something that is too hard, and then it's like Ellie turning the receiver dial too much - she winds up with static, and I wind up disappointed by my limitations.  Having the goals gives me something to look forward to, something to work toward, something I can discuss when people check on how I am. Here are a few of them:

Tuesday:  get through surgery, manage pain.  ✓
Wednesday:  walk downstairs and sit on couch.✓
Thursday:  have a BM, shower, change clothes, take a 5 minute walk.  (Way too many goals.  Only achieved the first one.  It's surprising how much you talk about bodily functions after surgery!)
Friday:  have a shower, wear clothes that aren't pajamas, take a short walk.  ✓✓✓ (Did it!  Jan helped me to the mailbox and back.)
Saturday:  take a short walk. ✓ (Jan helped me walk 1/4 way around neighborhood.)
Sunday:  go out to lunch with Jan.  (Too ambitious.  Had to rest from walking the day before.)
Monday:  go to the grocery store. ✓ (Jan took me to lunch and Nicole took me to the grocery store.)
Tuesday:  write some ty notes, make 1 lap around the neighborhood. (about 1/2 mile.)✓✓
Wednesday:  make pumpkin and pecan pies.  ✓
Thursday:  go to Thanksgiving potluck dinner at SpiritWorks.✓
Friday:  walk labyrinth. ✓
Saturday:  go hear bell ringers in CW.✓
Sunday:  go to Celtic service in Richmond for Advent 1 (too ambitious, couldn't do the hours in the car.)

See how small my world has become?  I was so thrilled the day we walked the labyrinth because I was outside in the sun, and walking around my neighborhood has never been so exciting.  Usually that's the walk I take when I'm being lazy and just trying to get in a few steps.  But the two times I've done it, I've gone so slowly, noticing the sun backlighting the golden leaves, feeling the crunch of the leaves under my feet, (HA!  Durn leaf blowers couldn't get them all!) breathing in the chilly, invigorating air, that it has felt like a long journey.  Each time I've been proud to get all the way around.

Having my world narrowed has broadened my gratitude.  So many things to be grateful for.  Gradual healing, time to rest, visit from my brother, excellent care from Jan, beautiful flowers from friends and family, gifts of soup and chicken salad and pumpkin bread and milkshakes, the warmth and purrs of Spirit as she warms my neck, the sweet ball of fur I call Shadow sleeping on my legs, phone calls from family and friends, a delicious Thanksgiving feast, cards and cards and cards.  I feel so loved and supported in this time.

I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to go to the Celtic service tonight.  It feels strange not to be in church for Advent 1.  It seems like every time I take two steps forward, the next day I take one back.  If I want to go back to work on Tuesday, I need to honor my body's needs today.  And today my body needed rest.  Being sick or having surgery teaches me compassion for those who live with sickness or injury all the time.  How hard it is to accept our limitations.  Grateful for the lesson.

Tomorrow's goal is to drive for the first time in two weeks.  And Tuesday I preside at the 7:30am service at Bruton.  There are so many things to be praying for right now.  Will you add me to your list?  Please pray that I can accept the things I am not able to do this week, that I have the energy and strength to do the things I can, and that I have the wisdom to know the difference.  And that I keep resting when I need to.  Small moves, Lauren.  Small moves.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  I am so grateful!!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Surgery, Self-Care, and the Election

On Wednesday morning I woke up with dread in my heart and went downstairs to turn on the news. When I saw the headline, I instantly turned it back off.  I didn't watch anymore, and I didn't look at FaceBook for a few days.  I started to sink into a depression as I imagined all the terrible things that could happen, the most frightening of which had to do with nuclear weapons.  By the time I got to Morning Prayer with my fellow Bruton Parish clergy, I was barely able to lead the service as I choked back tears.  The words of the liturgy were comforting, and I was grateful I could just read them.

Later I asked to assist at our healing Eucharist.  When someone asked why there were two clergy there when we usually have one, I answered, "Sometimes you just need to be at church."  I needed the Eucharist.  And I wanted healing prayer.

I'm having surgery on Tuesday.  I have a dermoid cyst in my right ovary causing it to more than double in size, and the whole thing has to come out.  Turns out dermoid cysts are weird things that contain genetic material like hair, bones, teeth, and skin.  As a child I thought I came from another planet.  Seems as an adult I have a little alien inside.  Alien removal will happen on Tuesday.

The surgery will be outpatient, laparoscopic, and should take less than an hour.  No big deal.  But I will need time to rest and recuperate from the procedure and the anesthesia. And I know I can't go into it in a state of depression.  I have to keep my spirits up so that I will be able to heal.

So I have been working to take care of myself.  That means I have to be careful about how much news I can take in.  I have to eat right and sleep and walk.  I've had my house cleaned and took my car to get the oil changed.  I'm walking the labyrinth. And I even purchased a new bed, since the one I've been sleeping on is at least 25 years old.  On the airplane they say that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you help someone else with theirs.  If I don't take care of myself, then I won't be able to help anyone else and I will have a slower recovery from surgery.

Today I took a walk to the labyrinth after finishing my sermon.  The sugar maples blazed in their glorious fall foliage.  How I love them.  I soaked up the beauty, listened to the chirps of small birds, felt the crunch of acorns under my feet, and walked the sacred path, sinking into God's peace.

Most of all, I have been staying close to God.  How grateful I am to know that God is in charge.  Maybe I'm in denial - certainly I am appalled by the things that the president-elect has said and done, and I'm horrified at the potential for damage to our country and harm to those most vulnerable.

AND, I believe that God works through everything.  Even when I don't know how.  So, my friends who are grieving, raging, despairing, and afraid, I hear you.  Take your time to feel your feelings.  Be gentle with yourselves and your loved ones.  Take walks.  Plant bulbs.  Dig in the dirt.  Feel the sun on your face.  Give your bodies good food and move around.  Turn off the electronics for a bit and hold your loved ones close.  Be gentle.  Be gentle.  Be gentle.

There will be much work to be done to stand with the oppressed, to reach out to those in need, to hold the leaders accountable.  I am hoping and praying that things will not be as bad as they appear, but if they do go that way, we will need our strength.  We will get through this.  We must take care of ourselves so that we can be there for those who need us.  Love will win.  If you can't believe that now, I will believe it for you.  Love heals.  Love wins.