That time I gave him a ride

Note: I think I’m catching a cold; downside of working a job is that you come into contact with lots of germs. So I’m fleshing out unfinished posts for a change. This one should have come out last month.


In the course of spending a lot of time with Grace and at the church, I wound up giving a ride to a man that was living on the church grounds (literally.) During the course of the five minute ride, he told me his life story. This is what he said:

Yeah, I’m not actually from this area. I came up here a while ago to get medical treatment at the big hospital. I have cancer, like really bad. I was doing chemo for a long time, but now they said that it can’t be treated any more. So I’m just waiting for a few more days for my last doctor’s appointment at the clinic and then my brother is picking me up and I’m going home.

I made some comment about the fact that his doctor’s appointment was at 9 am. And he said quite simply, “That’s not early. When I was doing chemo, I had to be at the clinic at 6:30am and then had treatment from 7-7. That’s early.”

And I was humbled. I realized that here was a man who had been through much more than I had. (After all, he was much older than me. Just because I have an illness and have been through a lot doesn’t make me older and wiser than everyone!!) He was being sent home to die because the doctors “couldn’t help him any longer.” In the mean time, he was living outside in the (literally) freezing weather.

I was happy that taking one minute out of my day made a difference in this man’s life. Mostly, I was grateful that he took the time to share his story with me.

Abigail

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Reflections with Aaron

I’m trying to write down all my thoughts from moving and transitioning. I realize that there’s some details that I haven’t had a chance to blog about. Not sure that anyone’s following, but I want to write them down so I’ll remember later.


I met with Aaron one last time before I moved away. It was an interesting time of reflection for both of us. We first met about twelve months before, and we talked about how much our lives have changed in the last year and a half. We’ve both made changes that we never dreamed we would ever make, and we’ve also both been faced with decisions that we never imagined we’d have to deal with. (We just felt sad for other people who had to experience them & patted ourselves on the back that they didn’t happen to us.)

Aaron gave me two parting thoughts:

  1. Live well with illness: Neither of us are sure what that means or even what it would look like. But at some point, God calls us to live well on the path He’s ordained for us. While that doesn’t preclude praying for deliverance, it does mean that we have a responsibility to endure. I think that’s one thing I’ve definitely learned by being around Timothy & Aaron. Learning to focus on living well & living Christ, period. Not to worry so much about the context. Or compare myself to other people. Because that’s all that God requires.
  2. Live well spiritually: We talked about liturgy. We talked about having a communion centered life. We talked about a sacramental faith. Mostly we talked about following the peace in our spirit and not compromising.

Besides that, Aaron commented that I need to surround myself with friends who don’t just make me comfortable but aren’t afraid to ask hard questions. That was a hard comment for me to swallow, not because I’m afraid of that, but because it feels like that’s all that I ever do. In the past year, I’ve been in more Quality of Life conversations, more fertility/genetics/gynecological conversations, more purpose-of-your-life conversations than any girl my age should ever have to encounter, let alone all in a one year period. I had a lot of friendships come and go and made some fairly difficult decisions. So, isn’t a girl allowed to kick back and relax once in a while???

At the same time, it’s nice to have solid friends when those hard times come, even if I manage to stumble into those difficult questions all by myself. In that sense, Drs. Leo, Samuel, and Mark have been amazing rocks. Diana, Alana, and Tabitha have never been afraid to ask hard questions and to pray & support from afar. Bethany’s been pretty amazing as well. Timothy & Grace have had open ears, especially Grace, who’s shared with me things on her heart as well.

It’s a lot to think about moving toward the future. I’m not entirely sure what God has in store for me. But I know that my season with Timothy & Aaron & company was not in vain.

Gratefully,
Abigail

Burnout

I think I’m really burned out. I’ve noticed that I’ve been extremely mopey lately. And I’ve started swearing a lot. Which is extremely unusual. Usually I’m allergic to swearing.

Anyhow, I’ve determined that while living with Aaron and Timothy & Grace’s friends is quite an opportunity, I think it’s stressing me out more than it’s helping. I don’t really know the people that I live with. The community is also incredibly unpredictable. Most of the time I’m one of the only people home, but sometimes (and with almost no notice) someone(s) will just show up and be there to stay. Last night, after a terrible, terrible day, I came home to just rest and chill and try to forget everything that happened. But, lo and behold, a bunch of people showed up at the house for dinner. Which I’m all about dinner and fellowship and community. But really? When I wandered out (in my pajamas) to figure out why there was so much noise, I didn’t expect 20 people in my living room and a toddler running around the whole house. As the night wore on, it just got to be too much.

I love the ministry. I love what they’re doing here. But it’s times like these that I really miss Timothy & Grace (because they don’t come to these impromptu shin-digs. They retreat to the serenity of their house.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole point of being here is to rest and recover. It’s hard to heal and think if I’m always stressed out and can’t hear the sound of my own voice.

I think, for my own sanity and for the sanity of those around me, I’m moving on. I don’t have a job yet. I don’t have a place to live. We still have no idea what is wrong with this most recent (and annoying) source of inflammation. But part of figuring that out will have to include transitioning out of this community, at least living here. I think part of my heart will always be here.

It was an interesting experiment. I’m really glad I did it. I’ll be here for a little while longer (and probably longer than I’ve been here already.) But I’m not going to linger here forever trying to make this work. Because all of this directly counters why I’m here in the first place. And, since I’m doing this for me, taking care of me entails doing something else.

I talked to Aaron about it already. He encouraged me to pray about it all. He also promised to pray for me. But he urged me to start looking into options to move back to where I was before I started graduate school. And we’ll touch base in a week to reassess.

Praying for clarity and for all the pieces to fall into place. Praying for strength for the next few weeks. Praying about all the conversations that will occur in the next week or so.

My life never ceases to amaze me.

Abigail

Learning to Receive

It’s Day 5 at the new house and the new community. I’m loving it, although I’m still getting used to living with a lot of people and still trying to learn what the prayer & service schedule is.

At prayers and then dinner last night, the Lord put this on my heart for this season of my life: learn to receive as much as you give. The text at prayers covered Jesus feeding the 4000. I’ve always focused on the giving aspect, the part where someone had a certain number of loaves and fishes, the part where the Lord gave the food back to the disciples and asked them to distribute it, the part where they collected the remains which were more than the original food. But there’s also the aspect of receiving the food from the Father. In order to give, they had to receive something. What they gave wasn’t of themselves. It wasn’t something they created. It wasn’t even something they improved upon. Aaron shared that the beauty of this story is that it’s a picture of the eucharistic ritual. It’s a picture of receiving food from the Father. And, that being the basis of the gospel.

Later on, during dinner, I realized that the fact that I was trying to be green and rode with someone to dinner meant that I was stuck at the dinner without a means to get home besides walking. Everyone else walks, but with the chronic fatigue and all the pain, it’s not worth the cost to try to walk even the blocks between the houses and the chapel. On my own, I was just stuck. There didn’t seem to be any way out of this problem. But God provided a way, a sweet solution, that showed me a little bit more about receiving His blessing.

Grace encouraged me to find someone who had a car and to ask them to drive me to my house, drop me off, and drive back. It took me a while. But I finally asked Phillip. I barely know Phillip, but I was desperate, so I just asked him if he had a car and if he could give me a ride. He said yes to both and then gave me a ride the nine blocks. It gave me a little bit of time to explain CFS and my plans (or lack thereof) for this season of my life. I’m not sure what I expected his response to be, but it really surprised me. He said, I’m so glad that you’ve moved here and were able to part of this community more deeply. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make things a little bit easier or to be more supportive. We’re all here for you, and never be afraid to ask.

It was such a humbling experience for me. I realized that so much of my life has been focused on giving and giving back. Helping other people feeds my soul, and my concept of being part of a community has always been about what I can put into the communal pot (so to speak.) But I’m realizing that my time here may be a lot more about receiving than giving. Not that I won’t give at all, but that I shouldn’t be anxious that I didn’t help out enough in the kitchen today. Or that all I did was go to prayers and go back to sleep. Because that’s enough. And maybe that all God wants from me right now.

Learning to receive,
Abigail