Floods and Feasts

I missed church yesterday and consequently missed my usual feed of writing prompts.  I missed church because I have been prescribed blood pressure medicine and the advice given by the manufacturer was warranted; I was too ill to drive or be away from home.  I would blame my blood pressure on my mother and would probably be justified to do so, but I will evict this demon as I have the others.

It was fortunate that I did stay home.  At about the time I would have arrived at the church, I became aware of a sound with which I was not familiar; there was a high-pitched hissing coming from behind the easy chair in my den, the ‘cave’ that my blessed dog, Stella, sleeps in.  Concerned and curious, I got up from my desk and stepped around the chair.  Before I got far, my bare feet were met with wet carpet.  Cutting to the chase: water pipe behind the wall split and much of my home was already sodden.  Almost 24 hours later, wallboard is tossed (or rather chucked, as it was heavy and sopped), pipe is patched (my brother knows people), floor under carpet is gone in places.  The carpet is finally dry and the easy chair is over the unsupported section.  The fan still blows into the opened home of the water heater, and all is on the mend.

Another gift of the flood:  I have been needing to address the (then) unpacked boxes of office and art supplies and the accumulated papers to be sorted and filed or tossed.  I accomplished much of that yesterday and God willing, will finish up today.

Wisdom:  One should periodically rearrange one’s books.  I have put aside a few books that I not only forgot I even had, but are exactly what I need to be reading right now.  Over the years, I have acquired many many  wonderful books.  In my days of manic over-spending (demon gone) I typically bought 4 books at one time:  one book was the one I went to the bookstore to buy; one was the book I really needed to read; and two were to go on my bookshelf to be necessary 10-15 years later.  I have enough desirable and quality reading material that I do not need to buy another book for probably the rest of my life…although, I will, and have, and did, the day before yesterday.

You know you are practicing the presence of Jesus, when you fail to put grounds in the coffee maker because you are talking with Him.  Pouring a cup of clear, hot water brought a smile to both of our faces.

The birds are finally becoming comfortable with my birdbath.  Soon they will be fighting over it.  For a long time, it only attracted bees, wasps, and the occasional high-climbing snail.  I wrote a review of it the other day and a responder remarked, “Oh, good.  A bee bath.”  I have yet to see a slug, here in the Upstate.  They were an unpleasant downside to the cool, damp mountains of Western North Carolina.  There may be slugs here but right now it is too dry and oppressively hot for them to survive in the open.  My morning glories are crunchy.  The moss that holds back the red clay on the bank in front of my home is parched and receding.  (Don’t tell anyone…I lightly sprinkle it with water (by hand) each morning and evening.  If the moss dies, and the red clay is exposed, I’ll never be able to climb out of my home when it rains….if it ever does, again.)

There are frogs, here, though…much to my delight.  Tubbs, my black cat, also delights in them.  I especially love the itty bitty ones, the tiny ones that remind me of the hand full of  tiny things I have collected over the years.  I asked my brother the other night if he remembered making frog houses as kids.  (He replied, “I didn’t…until now.”)  We would pack dirt around our bare feet and slip our feet out, leaving a little enticing cave just the right size for a frog…and frogs were never hard to find.  (okay, they may be toads.)

Another climatological (or rather biological…or would it be ecological… environmental? speciological?) difference between here and the mountains, is the cicadas and katydids (scientifically known as Tettigoniidae).  My seasonal clock has been thrown completely off.  In Asheville, I know it is June when the fireflies appear.  Same, here.  But the crickets, Katydids, and cicadas, don’t speak up in Asheville until late July and August.  They are here…here…now…and in abundance.

Have you ever listened to the YouTube recording of the woman concerned about the deer, crossing the road in high traffic areas?  You MUST.  Trust me, you must.  But I am also concerned about the turtles crossing the road.  I have not seen a sign posted, but there must be one, because I am often having to stop the car, put on my emergency flashers, and assist a turtle to the other side of the road.  I love to do it; it brings me joy.  The difficult part is the worrying afterward because no matter where I put her (it’s always a her) the terrain is treacherous.  Small embankments are deadly.  Sticks can be fatal.  I just know she will roll.  But I cannot stay with her.  Traffic is backing up and I have animals at home to tend to.  So, after a requisite quick prayer, I turn and go.

Speaking of tiny things (yes, I was…), I am reading my mother’s favorite book.  I have started it several times over the years.  I know I have, because I remember reading about the “little things,” but I must not have been, those former times, where I am now spiritually, because I am truly appreciating the natural, easy, matter-of-fact presentation of things spiritual by the author.  The book is The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge.   Ms. Goudge presents (as in a ‘gift,’ lovingly given) examples of Mary’s practicing the presence of God…without the overt and flashing, finger-pointing hand “Look here”.  Also delightful, is how the author slowly slips into your gaze subtle glimpses of ‘non-standard mentality,’ aka, mental illness and adaptive perception.   Several characters in the book ‘present,’ in the medical sense, mania, depression, psychoses, and their companions:  keen insight, ultra sensitivity, brilliant conceptualization, telepathy, and a closer than is common connection with God. The book was written when I was 9.  I recall having to check it out of the library every few months or so, especially when I was a teenager.  The library eventually gave my mother the book.

Well, enough of this.  I have much to accomplish today:  serious book reading, bird watching, squirrel feeding (yes, I gave in and put up a feeder just for them), flower dead-heading, moss dampening, picture hanging, presence practicing, high blood pressure demon dashing, and anything else He suggests.

God bless…

 

(Addendum:  as it is 95 degrees at noon, outside…I will shift to chores, indoors.  I have just released into the yard, two frogs/toads that were dwelling in a bag of compost on my screened-in back porch.  I appreciate the wisdom of God when he uproots us from a place of (relative) comfort to relocate us somewhere better suited to our spiritual growth, i.e., His purpose.

 

The Hospital is a Holy Place

I spent most of last night in the local Emergency Room with my next-door neighbors.  As I was not technically family, (I was her driver), I spent most of my time in the outer waiting room.  Although last night was not the exact full moon,* it was definitely a full-moon-night at the ER.  There was everything from vomiting children to psychotic teenagers.  But during a quiet spell, I remembered a truth that dawned on me a long time ago: there is a lot of holy and spiritual activity in and around a hospital, all the time.

There is the constant battle for life over death.  There is the constant struggle of good (health and wholeness) over bad (illness and brokenness).  There is also a great deal of fervent praying going on, the desperate begging of God for more time for oneself or for a loved one, promises to God and pleadings for forgiveness before it is too late.  There are priests and ministers giving last rites or hearing confession.  Children, as well as parents, are whispering their last good-byes…often with Jesus standing to one side.  Spirits are being released from the deceased.  Babies are coming into the world with souls newly sent from God.  With so much divine presence, I would not be surprised to see someone drop to a knee before entering. God dwells in such places.

Later in the evening, when the seriousness of the issues increased, I noticed even more God stuff going on among the people waiting to be ‘taken back:’ mothers were holding and comforting their sick children (temperatures seem to go up after sunset); men were wrapping blankets around their elderly parents or grandparents or wives; people were sharing personal and sometimes intimate stories of pain and hardship to total strangers; a father told of raising his children alone; young men accompanied by three or four policemen were relating sensitive details of their circumstances with them; another young man had an ankle cuff attached to his right foot…he and his friend were conversing in a casual, kind, and gentle way with other people waiting to be processed.  Some people were hungry and food was shared with them.  A white station wagon careened into the pull-through with horns blaring, doors opened before the vehicle had come to a stop, “She’s having a stroke!”  The entire family was there in desperate support.

When I made a food run, I noticed many people sitting alone or in groups of two or three outside in the warm night…waiting…one seemingly napping against the brown brick wall (perhaps he was praying or dreaming); others were talking quietly among themselves.  Even the exhausted drive-through attendant, used to the round-the-clock need for food to be taken back to the hospital, spoke in soft, hushed, gentle tones as if in respect for the serious circumstances surrounding the ones who had come to her for sustenance.

When I returned to the ER, the outer ‘triage’ waiting area was empty except for my neighbor’s wife to whom I had brought something to eat.  The gentleman, whose intended meal was also in the bag, had already left.  My neighbor said a silent grace over her hamburger.  We ate without speaking.  We were out of words and she was exhausted.  After another hour or so, I drove her home and came back to stay with her husband until he was released.

At some point during the ordeal, I noticed how within the walls of the hospital, just as within the walls of a church, no one requires an introduction to speak to the person across the way or sitting beside them; you are both there for a common purpose:  healing and help.  Words of encouragement or hope are shared without forethought or agenda; blessings and well-wishing are sent without concern for a return; gestures of kindness and consideration are extended regardless of race, age, or circumstance.  Pain is a leveler.  Fear and despair know no boundaries.  Disease and injury are no respecters of social standing or wealth.  We are all broken and in need…and that fact is well comprehended.

I never saw looks of judgement or disapproval.  I saw teary eyes of compassion and knowing eyes of having been there….eyes of tolerance and perhaps a look of relief as if in thanks for one’s own comparatively light burden, reflecting “there, but for the Grace of God, go I.”

 

*The next full moon will occur on Friday, April 22, 2016. It is known as the Pink Moon and may look full a day before and after to the casual observer. – See more at: http://www.space.com/16830-full-moon-calendar.html#sthash.NPzYK34A.dpuf  Apparently, last night, I was a “casual observer.”  The image of the moon, up top, is borrowed from the internet: (www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/full-moon.jpg)