Friday, September 15, 2006

San Franscisco Beyond the Equator

Hello, and welcome back
to Peruvian church week.

This Fransiscan church in Lima has survived
earthquakes across three centuries.
Most memorable were the catacombs
beneath the church
with bones out in the open,
femurs and skulls and such.
My visit was, oh, ten years ago,
but if memory serves me
the bones were not sorted by person
but by type of bone.

My south Georgia relatives
would have been agog at the sight.
In south Georgia,
you mummify your relatives
and carefully place them in silk lined boxes
and bury them within concrete underground vaults.

Burial is really about culture
more than anything.

I kind of like the idea of getting all stirred together
with the rest of the community of faith
and stored in bins underneath the church.

My old guidebook notes
that there are roughly 70,000 people
laid to rest in the San Fransisco catacombs.

In south Georgia, you can share a graveyard,
but your plot is a space reserved for one.
We're such an individualistic society,
even in the way we bury our dead.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's Not a Tumor

Last Monday I did a sporadic breast self-exam.
Found a large, hard patch that was most evident
when I raised my hand above my head.
Had a small, world-freezing moment of panic.

Called the doctor and got an appointment
for the following Tuesday.
As the week progressed,
I did about 50 additional self-exams.
I thought about my mortality.
I chose french fries instead of brocolli
as my side dish, since life is short.

I sat at the bedside of a wonderful woman
only two years my senior,
as she gently died of metastatic breast cancer,
surrounded by family and friends.

I did about 50 more self-exams...
always waiting until I was alone,
although I would have liked to do them more often.
Still there, no change.

Obsessed, prayed, remembered
that I had found a cyst five years before
and that was no big deal.

My doctor expressed doubt
that it was anything serious
after a quick exam,
and then sent me this morning
for a mammogram and sonogram.

Won't go into detail about the
smashing good time I had at the radiology clinic....

Except to say,
I have another cyst.
Happily, they no longer feel a compulsion
to follow such news with a needle.

Women, do your self exams.
Men, do the same for testicular cancer.

Check early, check often.
You never know.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday, Church Day

Cathedral in Cuzco, Peru...1996
We started back Sunday School for the fall today.
Had bright smiling faces in the adult class I teach.
Some know far more than me,
others find the Bible a strange and alien book.
Never know who is going to show up in class.
They keep me on my toes, this lot.
Sometimes I teach, sometimes I learn,
sometimes I just keep the ball rolling.
Today, like a children's class,
we began to learn a song that lists
the books of the Bible.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers....

We're reading Joshua right now.
Holy War, invading and killing in the name of God.
Difficult material...especially
since we tend towards being a peace church.
But you can't skip it and pretend it's not there.
For one thing, humanity continues to wage war
in the name of belief and religion.
More than the name of God.
So, we read and discuss...
and try to figure out
how to interpret...what to follow....
and how to be human,
violent, selfish and fearful...
and yet capable of great compassion,
great faith, great generosity.
Be strong and courageous.

Friday, September 08, 2006

August 10 Garden Pictures

I took pictures of the garden back a month ago,
but never posted them...
will share some this week.
Now, looking out the window,
the corn and squash are gone,
the beans are past their peak
and the tomato plants are giving their last burst
of summer energy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Labor Day, Labor Weekend

Last Friday was one of my harder days
at Hospice.
The kind of day people assume I have
all the time, when told where I work.
I rushed from visit to visit all day,
had lunch around 3:00.
In the morning was called
to the home of a family I've visited for a year
because my friend and patient had died quietly in his sleep.
Spent an hour mid-day on the phone with a grieving widow.
Was called at the end of the day
to the home and bedside of another longtime patient,
who was in her last hours of life.
Left her home at 5:45, with work still to do
and no more week in which to do it.
Went to sleep Friday night
trying to figure out how to get my paperwork turned in
and when I would prepare for a weekend funeral.
I thought about work all weekend.
Even with company for Labor Day,
and a few hours at the Apple Festival,
I kept having to excuse myself to go back to working.
Sunday I only had three hours on my timesheet,
but the whole day was consumed by the memorial service
in my thoughts and energy.
For the record, my boss told us not to do funerals on the weekend,
but sometimes I'm a soft touch, to my detriment.
Monday, even though it was a holiday,
I found myself at work,
pretty sure it was my own fault for not
just taking the day off like company policy allows
and all my smarter coworkers did.
So my body was at work,
and my attitude was in the cellar,
angry mostly at myself, for working all weekend
when it was so obviously a time
the rest of the country
knew to take off to renew and relax.
After all these years, I'm still trying to figure out
how to have appropriate boundaries.
When I don't get any sabbath rest,
my work suffers,
my coworkers suffer,
my friends suffer.
My cat seems unaffected,
but cats are much better at knowing when to knock off
and take a nap.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Blogless in Carolina

Simple Friday morning update:

There's been a yellow jacket nest in the front lawn,
resulting in an unmowed patch of grass
and an epic battle involving nasty chemical sprays.

No one has been stung, to my knowledge,
but the first evening we stood and watched
over 100 little wasps fly into their hole. Yikes.

The vegetables in the garden are winding down production
at the end of the summer. It was a great tomato year,
unlike the previous two cool, rainy summers.

The avacado pit I pictured weeks ago
sent down large roots into the glass jar,
sent broad green leaves into the air.

Work is going well.
Continuing to have mundane and profound visits
with people at home and in nursing homes.
Sometimes funny, sometimes sad,
sometimes I'm the only person even partially awake
during the visit.

It has been kind of a sleepy week.

Looking forward to weekend time at home.