Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quiet giant

Listen to post:

I want to rail ... rail that someone I consider a rock is suffering. I just don't understand this kind of pain and why it's inflicted so randomly. The phrase shit happens comes to mind, but that does not begin to cover the scope of a devastating cancer diagnosis, stents that break loose creating interior havoc, chemo that wipes everything out and a rushed surgery when a body is already under siege.

It's especially incomprehensible because it's Fred: Fred the treasurer; Fred the cautious and steady one; Fred the accountable one; Fred whom you can count on; Fred who rebuilt houses after Katrina; Fred who has always accepted my wild child Lily for who she is; Fred who makes sure the meeting [church] grounds and building are in good repair, safe and a respite from the world; organized, controlled Fred, who seems worlds away from my messiness, yet always manages to support my half-baked endeavors. We are like night and day. He's the on-the-ball numbers guy and I am the off-the-wall artsy-fartsy one, always struggling to discern my path through the haze of chronic pain. Now Fred has far more than a haze and yet, I think he saw me for who I am ... through all of the clutter.

He and Mary Ellen, his wife and our longtime clerk, have just always been there: when I applied for a scholarship to attend a far-away, two-year spiritual nurture program with young children; when we were purchasing new windows for the meetinghouse and I wondered if we could also fund ministry; when we wrestled with a formal pastor search after God had given us a gift; when I felt called to attend a Quaker writing conference and he deemed it an emergency, loosening emergency funds ...

I don't remember a time when they weren't there. Except for now, when they are at the hospital and noticeably absent from worship.

Tuesday, when then nurture group I lead met to explore a "journey to the center" with candles leading the way to a sacred circle, we placed both of them there in prayer the entire hour-and-a-half. We hoped to wrap them in God's embrace, edging the grip of disease.

I asked our minister when she visited Fred to tell him Lily was praying for him and she reported that he squeezed her hand at that message. Lily and Fred have developed an interesting relationship. As she has outwardly manifested various growth phases in her manner of dress (loud, disheveled and mismatched), Fred has always positively commented on her choices, encouraging her creativity and self expression. In his loving teasing of my wild child and constant support of my wild leadings, his BIG heart shows on his sleeve.

My prayer is that God is holding his heart and hand right now.

• Who's the Fred in your life?
• When have you found a cheerleader who seems so polarly opposite to you?
• What riches have the quiet supporters in your life provided?
• How/where do you find God in suffering?
• What prayer does that spark?

slowly the intimidation of
the quiet giant melted

he tended to physical and
financial matters of the meeting

I, to the spiritual and nuturance

he seemed controlled and wise,
me, all over the map, but learning by experience

and then we met in a kinda funny place:
somewhere between recognizing a creative kid for who she is
and a mother trying to regain her confidence and calling

he's been the rock, the foundation, that has freed me to
creativity and ministry

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