July 17, 2010

Two little letters, what can I say
I used them with my daughter the other day.
“Maybe” wasn’t good enough,
Huff and puff, and huff and puff.
Mother, I want to do it, don’t you see,
You must be about as dense can be.
If you really heard my heart,
You’d see my point from the start.
You’d agree of that I’m sure,
If you only your heart were pure.
How can you say “no” to me.
I’m your daughter don’t you see.
I want this thing with all my heart.
Just say “yes” and do your part.
It only costs two hundred bucks,
I’ll pay you back when I have luck.
Mother, “no” is not the word,
Your mind is closed, you’re so absurd.
Why do you have to be this way,
I’ve nothing more to you to say.
You’ve broke my heart
I’m off the chart.
I’m not your friend
I’m round the bend.
I don’t like “no”, I want a “yes”
“Yes” is the answer that is the best.
If you say “yes” then I confess,
I with you will no more mess.
If you say “no” you close the door,
With you I can not say any more.
I close this talk I have with you.
A “no” has made me very blue!

The Power of Greetings

July 15, 2010

Sr. Wantabee has inherited two dogs from her son “to babysit.” One is a short legged, docked tailed rat terrier that treats everyone on the street as a potential stranger or thief. He barks! The second is a half great dane and half boxer young guy with an Avatar tail. He whips that tail back and forth, slaming it from one door post to the other without seemingly wincing. A stranger walks by and he woofs with enunciation on the end of the woooofffff in a deep bass voice. Yesterday these two characters were joined by a third, our friend’d boxer needed babysitting for the weekend. This poor guy has ears that both point left, droopy eyes, docked tail, and a bark that requires the whole front of his body to leave the ground before the woof can escape. His looks do not slow him down in greeting you. He does not know he is ugly or scary. The three make a formidable greeting team. It is not possible to walk into the house without the greeting of the three. What would happen if we greeted each other as frequently and as affectionately as the dogs greets Sr. Wantabee?

One of the Few

July 13, 2010

Sr. Wantabee was back at the hospital today. As she approached the first room she decided to first, she wondered what surprise awaited her. She tapped on the door and peeked in. The husband was sitting on a chair behind the door with his laptop open, typing, and the wife was lying in the bed appearing to be dozing. “Oh, she’s asleep. I’m the chaplain and my name is the same as hers except she has the shortened, fun version and I’ve never met one with her name before so just wanted to stop and say hello.” An eye peeked open and looked at Sr. Wantabee who apologized for disturbing her and introducing herself. The patient said, “I have a master’s in theology and am one of the six trained Biblical counselors in the world.” That was a conversation, jaw dropper.

It ended up that the husband was a professor at a local college preparing lectures for a group of students coming from the country where Sr. Wantabee once worked. The patient’s youngest daughter teaches at the school where the husband of the sister of Sr. Wantabee’s friend works. We figured we had almost crossed paths many times.

Sr. Wantabee had a delightful conversation and time of prayer with the couple but she left wondering how someone could feel they were one of six properly trained people “in the world.” That must be a tremendous sense of responsibility to feel so chosen. Or perhaps a tremendous sense of oppression to be surrounded by so many ignorant people led astray by evil. It is ununderstandable to Sr. Wantabee how that can be believed or spoken.

Upon arriving home, she shared with her daughter the honor of meeting one of the few chosen. Her daughter said, “Oh, my friend, is going to that college and studying Biblical counseling so soon there will be seven!”

Avatar Eyes

July 11, 2010

Wantabee got to do the children’s sermon this morning. The text was the very familiar “Good Samaritan” story where the lawyer asks Jesus how to get to heaven. Jesus responds by asking what the law says. The lawyer correctly replies that one needs to love God and love neighbor as oneself. Correct. All confirmation students know that. So to justify himself, he asks, “Who’s my neighbor?” Sr. Wantabee and the kids contextualized the story so that the congregation would not fall asleep with a very familiar text.

A principal was chosen and given a very big clock. His job was to walk across the front at the apropriate time and say, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” Next a teacher was chosen and give a big pair of gloves. Her line was, “I wash my hands of this. It is not my responsibility. I’m not on yard duty.” Lastly the students were to be at a pep ralley because the Minnesota Viking were to play the Green Bay Packers (arch enemies!). Viking reps were given red pieces of paper as their colors are maroon and gold. The other side of the room was given green paper for the Packers. The boy to receive the first piece grimaced and totally drooped to think that he would have to represent the Packers as he was a loyal Vikings fan. (The point was made right there!)

A young Vikings fan was walking to a pep ralley when a neighborhood bulley jumped out of the bushes and grabbed her cell phone, her ipod, her bus pass, her lunch money…everything…roughed her up and ran. Our sheroe lay in the middle of the isle, sobbing, a victim of identity theft with out even ear phones to listen to music.

The principal walked past chanting “I’m late…” The teacher with gloves walked past chanting “I wash my hands of this.” Next came the Green Bay Packers fan, looked at the girl sobbing in the isle, “Oh my gosh, you’re hurt. Let me help you to the nurse’s office.”

Jesus’ question was, “Which person in this story saw the girl with Avatar eyes?” The bulley saw the girl as a source of resources – cell phone, ipod etc. The principal saw the girl as an interruption to his agenda. The teacher saw the girl as not her responsibility. Only the scorned Packer fan saw the girl as a fellow human needing help. Only the Packer could say, “I see you!” The others looked but did not see. Jesus sees us, how will we look at others this week? Will we see them?

Remind Me About Smiles

July 9, 2010

Sr. Wantabee was at the hospital yesterday. She only had the blessing of visiting with two patients as she had meetings but both had smiles on their faces.

The first man, married 47 years had lost his wife in February and was in for a hip replacement. He had first met his wife in high school and invited her to a dance – rather funny as he thinks about it as she was on crutches from an operation for being born without a hip socket. She was a good sport. They fell in love and had a wonderful marriage. Yes, she did develop rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinsons, cancer and multiple other problems that necessitated him leaving his employ to nurse her with her cancer last year. She had died a year later and now he faced the loneliness. All said with a smile! Such a horrendous story of struggle with illness and limitations through child bearing and life and he smiled. Did that smile hold back the tears, Sr. Wantabee wondered.

The next patient wanted to talk about her life too. “I’m a train wreck!” she shared with a smile. A fall had left her with a fractured shoulder that was undiagnosed which then necessitated a total shoulder replacement. She had now fallen again a year later breaking her humerous (an arm bone), ruining the first surgery and requiring more surgery. In the meantime her achillies heel had degenerated and needed to be rebuilt. Her beloved mother and friend had died. Her beloved dog of 5 or 6 years had died. She has Parkinson’s and will go home to a husband with Emphesema from smoking. We agreed that some days just don’t seem like living and when we get to heaven we want to go to the video library and see the replay of 19… so we can better understand the bigger picture that our little suffering fits into. Yes, she would love a prayer, and we bowed our heads together.

Both tales of woe told with smiling faces left Sr. Wantabee somehow sad. We each carry our tale of woe and challenges how do we tell our story? As a detached news reporter, as a victim of circumstances, as the master of our fate?? How does she see her life story – with a smile??

The Hindu Meets the Christian

July 7, 2010

Yesterday Sr. Wantabee was back at the hospital. She met several very interesting patients. One, a handsome young man doing construction in a town she had eaten in during her trip West, had stubbed his toe in the airport, resulting in a huge inflamation and the exposure of an underlying infection. His care was no problem as he flew around the US doing construction, not married but his married friends wives cooked and cared for him, young, buff, and cared for. In the next room Sr. Wantabee met a tiny little lady from the East who was a Hindu by faith. Her daughter was there to translate but her English was actually very adequate. She had both knees replaced but one went bad and she was headed to the operation room. Being sick in a foreign country is noooo good, we both agreed.

The patient and her daughter gladly explained their faith to Sr. Wantabee and their Trinity: Brahma the creator, Shiva the bad guy, and Vishnu the nurterer. All have consorts. Prayer in their faith is more personal and done at home in a little temple area created in the home. The patient prayed daily and had a special relationship with the God of conservation, I think. But, she admitted, that she also had a statue of Mary and Jesus, in her temple area and included them in her prayer routine. Sr. Wantabee was touched that this lady, a foreigner, was able to incorporate aspects of Christianity into her faith routine. She was able to share about a previous experience in the hospital with a man who had his idol with him and had explained to Sr. Wantabee that the idol drew him into meditation on the truth behind the figure and the reality it represents. Likewise, the personage of Christ draws her into the reality that there is a God who reaches down, incarnates into human experience, to reconcile with us through the cross and who will go with her into the operating room.

We prayed and parted in tears. She because I understood her fear of another operation when the first somehow went bad and the doctor was struggling with a bad back…and perhaps my confidence that God cares about her and will be in the operation with her. Sr. Wantabee was teary, touched by a foreigner who was more willing to reach into her religion than she was to experience the others.

Perhaps Sr. Wantabee will meet again with this frail little lady on Thursday to hear how things went and to touch lives again across cultures.


July 5, 2010

Anyone who knows Sr. Wantabee, knows that one of her favorite movies is “Fiddler On the Roof” and the opening scene where the father sings, “Tradition.” Traditions are what holds society together, “Traditions tell us who we are and what God expects of us!” July 4th is one of those big traditions for Americans.

Flying to California three weeks ago, the United airlines was already running an informative clip on the traditions around 4th of July, and where fireworks came from. Sure enough, last night, even as she and her husband debated if the big fireworks would be on the holiday Monday or on the actual day, Sunday, the firecrackers in the neighborhood starting booming and shooting into the air. The TV had to be turned up to volume 45 to override the background noise. People were on the street, parties were being held and her husband even met the new neighbors and came home with a sparkler!

Sr. Wantabee and her daughter had a driving lesson going to Target and Cub, the food chain here. Black berries were on sale for $.50 a box!!! Watermelons went from $5 to $1.99! Hamburger buns were on sale. At Target, “Independence Day” was bought for $7.99 as it was on sale and that family tradition was organized.

They returned home and together made a berry pie from scratch, her first ever but the crust was actually tender. After bar-b-que chicken, veggies and pie, they settled down for the DVD. By midnight the world had yet again been saved from aliens by the wonderful Americans. Even in the absence of many family members, the traditions bought fond memories of former days. Culture was satisfied and they retired to bed full.

The second half of tradition, though, is telling us what God expects of us. Does God expect wars in the name of freedom and indulence in foods that might have otherwise been bought? Hummm, probably not. But God would want community, loving one’s neighbors, and laying down one’s life for one’s friend and faith. Perhaps those traditions did serve their purpose! And at least we are safe from aliens though not united in our world.

ID for Sparklers

July 3, 2010

Sr. Wantabee just went to Target with her daughter who was anxious to practice driving now that she has her learner’s permit and she, the daughter, had to cruise the $1 isle for this and that for camp on Monday. Sr. Wantabee survived the experience and entered Target to see the $1 stuff and there was a box of Sparlers for $2. Have we outgrown them or not, thought she. Ah, for $2 I’ll invest, she decided. On checking out the lady asked for her ID and ran her driver’s liscense through the register! Needless to say Sr. Wantabee had never been carded for sparklers. Carded for alcohol, yes. How ironic that she would be carded for sparklers but not for R rated videos, not for food that threatens her diabetes, not for sugars that threaten her weight. We live in a funny world to be sure!

“That Was a Trip!”

July 2, 2010

For the last two weeks Sr. Wantabee has been visiting in Los Angeles as a reward for finishing her internship and her first year of teaching ESL. Trips are fantastic because they get you out of your normal setting so you get a different perspective as you search for words to paint a verbal picture of reality for people who live elsewhere.

“Density” took on a new meaning flying into LA, driving on their freeways, and visiting homes. It felt like for every house that had been there in 2002, there were now two, if not three. For every car on the road there were now double the number. Get onto the side streets was a life threatening experience. The glare of neon signs was blinding and confusing. Six lanes of traffic on each side of the freeway can stream along at 70 mph, even at midnight, full!! But somehow in the mass of humanity, motion, lights and sensory grabbers, friends mingle and form a social bubble that keeps them focused.

Meeting with family that knew the “old time” stories from youth, before marriage, before ministry, before whatever brought a whole new level of integration to life. People who hadn’t gotten together, got together because Sr. Wantabee was in town, and stories flew. “Tell me the big fish story again!” “remember the time” “How is…” Hours were spent recreating the past and informing the present.

Thirdly, the “I’ve got your back” phrase took on a new level of meaning. At the supporting church of her husband Sr. Wantabee was able to ask, “And what happens if my husband dies…” (as widows and widowers are now appearing in her social circles.). “We’re aghast you ask! You’re one of us!” We’ll see but those were nice words. And the retirement policy is tied to social security. suddenly Sr. Wantabee realized she was married to a man who is turning 64 next month. How did that happen? The importance of community took on a whole new level of meaning as Sr. Wantabee reflected on her life.

Home? Home is a place she chooses to be because that is where her family, her new friends, and her life calling is now. But those roots from the past that make the present even more wonderful the trip a trip to remember. “That was a trip!”