Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What The Cold Revealed

I ashamedly remember my first year singing with the choir. I must have been a spry 40 years old or so. We had an elder soprano named Frances who had horrible arthritis. Her top knuckles were so eroded that her finger tips twisted sideways until they were perpendicular to the rest of her fingers.

Every once in awhile I'd glance at her fingers and think (now, shamefully): I'll never let that happen to my fingers. I figured you could tape your fingers or maybe splint them so they would stay straight. That's what I would have done, I thought all those years back.

What an ignorant fool I was.

Now I have severe "erosive" osteoarthritis. That means that the cartilage in the joints of my fingers and thumb have been eaten away, leaving the bones to grind against each other. An X-ray would reveal a haze where my joints are supposed to be.

This "bone dust" is a wonderful metaphor for fallen creation. As Paul says in Romans 7:

For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

How many times I've repented of my stupid thoughts about dear Frances! Beyond her near century of service to our church and community, two things stand out to me. She sang with choir into her eighties, and though her voice grew faint, she always sang in key. (In my spry 50s, I'm finding it hard now to not go flat.) And, though the year she died she was into her nineties, she still managed to knit something like 50 scarves, hats, and/or mittens for the children in her extended family. Twisted fingers, failing eyesight and all.

Were I only to have a portion of Frances' spirit!

I have a blessing Frances did not. About five years ago, I had two joints on my left hand fused against pain. This was the only remedy at that time. Last year I had a joint replacement in my left hand, this year a joint replacement in my right hand. I lost the pain on "mousing" and typing, and gained the ability to open jars.

In August, I had the joints in two fingers on my right hand not fused--replaced. I continue to discover the extent of this blessing. Yesterday I picked up my flute for the first time in years and delighted in pushing the keys. I can make a fist. Today I sit in my office, typing and mousing happily away. Pain-free.

There's been another blessing associated with my hand restoration.

Last winter, we kept the thermostat at 68. This was far too cold for my hands, so I wore two pairs of pants, a tee-shirt, turtleneck, and sweater to get my body temperature high enough to bring comfort to my eroded fingers.

Today the temperature in my office is 62. I wear yoga pants, a tee-shirt, and a light long-sleeve shirt. My fingers are warm and happy because Dr. Stefan Strapko of Nashua, NH restored what was eaten away.

Frances May of Dunstable, Massachusetts blessed so many with her twisted fingers. Without complaint. With conviction.

With a quiet and enduring faith.

Thank you, Jesus. Frances deserved these pain-free and functional fingers far more than I.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Older Women Teach the Younger...

Daisy O., a two-year-old beagle, visited last Sunday and took 2 hours to teach Savvy how to play. Savvy rolled continuously for almost an hour, trying to "submit" to her elder. Daisy persisted, hopping around, on, and over Savvy until Savvy finally figured out what to do.

She was more than ready for Sadie when she visited today.

The elder hath taught the younger.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

We had powerful rains last night and this morning. It's hard to believe that we got pounded at 9:30 this morning, greeted by blue skies and bright sunshine by 10. Perfect for Savvy's morning walk.

One of the by-products of the forester's mess is that the woods have many deep ruts where the path used to be. In the spring and after hard rains, these ruts fill up with water. I have hated these ruts--they're nearly unpassable when wet and treacherous when iced over.

Amazing how a puppy can change one's perspective. I now do not leave the house without boots because if it's not dewy (or frosty) grass, it's mucky, wet woods. When it was just me and the forester, I hated having to wear boots because of his mess.

But here's the untended consequence of that mess -- water for my dog,.

Savvy discovered water her first day with us, stepping into her water bowl and overturning it. Gone are the days we used to have to bend down and hold the bowl when she drank. Now she's a lady (relatively), drinking nicely from her bowl. And the jacuzzi. And the toilet bowl...not yet but she's trying to figure that out.

Savvy is a Labrador Retriever, bred to run through swamps and bogs to retrieve water fowl. That breeding is fully on display on a day like today when the ruts are filled with water and she can leap and dive and splash and frolic to her literal heart's content.

I love the ruts because my dog loves them. I'm blessed by watching this joyful emergence of her basic nature.

And isn't this what God expects of me? Joyful frolicking in whatever mess He allows in my path?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Every Dog Lover Dreams Of

Grace, dignity, and beauty. Correct?

And here's Savvy...starting to doze off under a bed, the toilet paper she's stolen by her side. Yep. Grace, dignity, and beauty indeed.
That's my pup.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mortality in Splintered Steps

Steve's father died yesterday. At 94, we all agreed he had years left. Harry still babysat his great-grandchildren, loved lobster rolls, loved his wife Evelyn more than anything.

One can wax on about mortality as if it's to be measured on the vet's scale. But life will have its way in splintered steps, marching or leaping or shuffling forward until it fades away with the morning mist.

Breathe in. Then sigh.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mortality in Leaps and Bounds

Savvy is going to the vet weekly for her shots. They always weigh her, a tail-wagging exercise that makes me so pleased she's not Tasha, who would scramble off the weighing table.

Two weeks ago she gained 2 pounds. This week she gained 3 pounds. No fat on this dog, she's all muscle and lately, lots of leg.

The lesson of mortality is so evident in her rapid growth. Dogs her breed live around 10 years, can become pregnant at 6 months, so she's got to grow fast. Sometimes she's grown during her afternoon nap, so the dog that went into the pen comes out a taller lass.

I can't remember Barnabus, our first lab, as a puppy. Perhaps that's because that was almost 30 years ago. Or perhaps it's because I had two toddlers at the time so he fell into the mix. Tasha came to us at 1 year old so she was full-grown, though terribly in need of training and order. So I watch Savvy with considerable joy, but also a certain trepidation, as soft puppy turns so quickly to gangling doggie. Adolescence will come around Christmas, adult-hood next summer.

Maybe then I'll stop thinking about how fast time goes. Until then, I'll praise God for the miracle of puppies and stop worrying about the mortal inevitabilities.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Creation Thuds

I have a deer tick imbedded in my umbilicus. Deep in, under a fold of skin. (And we won't mention the adipose tissue cushioning it!) I will need to go to my doctor to have it cut out of there.

I discovered it only because my belly broke out in a rash. Yeah, that good ol' Lyme Disease rash. Otherwise, why ever would I venture into my own umbilicus. I prefer to meditate on the Lord Almighty, and not my navel.

I know from Genesis 1 that deer ticks were not designed to feast on blood. And that they do is part of our corporate Adamic sin. That a disease as potentially debilitating as Lyme nestles deep in their throats (or whatever ticks have) is downright tragic.

And now that tick has to be cut out of my bellybutton and the Lyme washed from my blood.

So it goes. Over and over again.