Saturday, November 29, 2008

Helen Keller and The Miracle Worker

Today my husband, daughter, and I saw the play "The Miracle Worker." It was about the time from Anne Sullivan's arrival as Helen's teacher, to the time at which Helen understood the meaning of words.

Watching the story unfold, and knowing how accomplished Helen Keller became, it was surprising to see the early struggles, how "Annie" took Helen next door to live so she could isolate her, break through some of Helen's stubbornness, and make progress. Then after a time they returned home and Helen immediately began to regress. But also, right after that, the breakthrough came, she understood the meaning of words--Annie had connected with Helen as a person.

Just looking at the general world, there is a time when things "click" for people--like when a child learns to ride a bike, or even learns to walk. For a person with a disability, it can be different. So as the play ended with Helen "getting it," I was brought to tears. I thought of times, with MS, when I still can learn and "get" things. I thought of skiing, when things were not clicking and then started clicking. I thought a bit of handcycling and how it started to click. And for these activities, there are still barriers to getting further, but things can still click. It's beautiful really, how disability can be "turned on its head." Just beautiful.

Thanks be to God for the beauty of it all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


One of my mentors spoke and wrote on his mentors, so I thought I'd write on mine. Here are the mentors who have had the greatest impact on my life, "saints," who have given me the gift of grace.

My mom, my rock, who before I could understand, showed me true love, and then as I grew up, became my best friend--who she still is today.

My coaches. Coach Luckasen, who showed me that if I make a seemingly impossible goal, I CAN achieve it. Coach Gomez, who showed me that I can reach my goals by breaking the big goal into little pieces, conquering each piece, one at a time. Coach Charlie, who helped me to see that I am and will always be an athlete, and who also became a friend with whom I can share tremendous sarcasm, smile, and laughter.

My doctors. Dr. Schermer, who (is making me cry now) looked me so many times directly in the eye with driving compassion, and helped me to continue to believe in myself. Dr. Mulica, who paused to ask if I was ok, who continues to pause when I see him, and who "gets it" with MS, points to my head, and tells me that my mind drives me where I want it to go.

A few pastors. BE Palmer, who was there and prayed for me shortly after I was diagnosed with MS, when I first felt the great presence of God, there, holding me. Pastor Joe, who somehow, some way, brought faith back as an important presence in my life.

And in keeping with the format of the mentor who got me to write this, the Trinity--God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, for helping me to feel that presence, for reaching me a year ago when I was desperate, for showing me peace, for leading me to ask for help when I needed help, and for maintaining that presence.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giving of time and talents...

The stewardship talk I gave at church on Sunday (or something close to it!)

This week I’m giving a temple talk on time and talents, although do I need to remind you to turn in your envelopes reflecting monetary stewardship?

I was asked to talk about time and talents, how they relate to my faith experience, and how they have been a large part of my life. A bunch of ideas then mulled in my head about how to approach this, what stewardship means, and what I wanted to say.

This week, ideas still churning in my head, I was meeting with a physician collea gue and eyeing all his books. At some point we began talking about various books when all of a sudden one caught my eye: Stewardship. I borrowed it—not religious, but it is from a public service perspective. It says “Stewardship taken seriously is not an economic strategy or a way to achieve higher levels of productivity or to succeed in a marketplace. It is also an answer to the spirit calling out.” I like that.

Stewardship can occur at so many levels—I recall the hardest time of my entire life early last December when I reacted to a drug and was thrown into a deep depression. I remember driving around, picking Lori up from daycare, wondering how I was going to get through that day, and so on. And then I found myself driving to an Advent service at Holy Love. There, for the first time since the reaction started, I found a sense of peace, a sense of pause, and I realized I needed help. To me, stewardship can be that simple--it's about relationships, with God, with this community, in the simple context of coming to church when I am struggling most in life.

First Corinthians says,
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone." - 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 [NRSV]

So, for me, thinking further about time and talents (not sure about the talents piece!), I’d include being a lector, assisting minister, and singing in the choir. When I was first a lector long ago (another church in Minnesota), it was just something I wanted to try for no apparent reason. Same with most things I do—I just want to try them. Then I find a sense of passion—when I lector, I think about the scripture more than when I listen to other people reading it—the text seems to mean more. When I read the prayers of the people, the same thing happens. When I sing certain music in the choir, I feel it pretty intensely. If I do not feel the passion, I may not continue to do something.

You have a sheet with possibilities for time and talent stewardship. Please consider choosing to try a couple. You may find a new passion. But more importantly, you will feel the sense of community here, and the community here reaches to broader communities—there are opportunities there too. So I’ll close with the following quote. I love quotes and this one I try to read before bed each night, as a way of reflecting.

“Listen to your life. Pay attention. Observe. That wonderful phrase, "religious observance," means observe religiously. Don't just get through your life, as all of us are inclined to do, on automatic pilot, not much noticing anything. Listen."

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Today I picked up my daughter from school. In the car she stated in a distressed tone, "I don't know what I want to do when I grow up! I don't know if I want to be a nurse, or Ariel, or a princess, or an artist, or a child of God."

Oh, to be 5 again! :)