Saturday, October 24, 2009

Astoria 1972

I worked in a hospital in Astoria the year before I married. There was a patient with emphysema who had to be hospitalized several times that year. His name was Mr Hansen. I was always assigned to be his nurse’s aide. We got along really well. He was looking for spiritual comfort. I was a new Christian. We talked about scripture and I prayed for him. He could hardly breathe each time he was admitted but after intensive respiratory treatments he’d get to go home for awhile. The last time he was admitted he was much worse. That day I had to give him a sponge bath, he was too weak to wash himself.

I got off shift at 3pm. I was deeply concerned for him. When I got home I took a nap. I dreamt I was at work looking out the employee lounge window. It was on the second floor of the hospital, on the river side, just a couple of blocks from the Columbia River. You could just catch a glimpse of the river and when ships went by it was like they were going down the street. In my dream I am gazing out this window and two angels were with me. I don’t remember seeing them fly in or anything, just being there on either side of me. I have no visual impression of them and never did “see” them. I had the impression that they were going to take me to heaven, out through the window. I protested and assured them it wasn’t my time yet. That’s when I woke up. It seemed like the dream was about Mr. Hansen. It was profoundly spiritual. Have you had dreams like that? You just can’t shake them off.

I went to a meeting at the church that evening. When it was over I felt more oppressed about Mr Hansen then ever. Astoria is a compact town and I lived in walking distance of everything. This was a good thing since I didn’t own a car. I had walked to the church and the hospital was only a few blocks from there.

Even though it was about 9:30 pm and I knew the hospital was locked to visitors, I walked down to the hospital. I felt drawn there. Mr Hansen was in the corner room on the second floor. The light was off in that room. I looked up there and thought, why am I here and what can I do? I decided to walk up the length of the hospital on the riverside and pray. I prayed and sang worship songs up the deserted street and then back down. The heavy feeling was crushing. I finally reasoned with myself that I wasn’t really accomplishing anything and decided to walk home. I crossed the street and had walked about a quarter the length of the next block when I felt this sudden “lifting” of the heaviness, I can’t explain it any other way. I swung around to look at Mr. Hansen’s room. The light switched on right after I turned around. As I watched an aide came in the room, approached the bed and then exited leaving the light on. I continued to watch as a few moments later several nurses came into the room. I never saw them do this before or since but one of the nurses took the sheet and covered his face with it.

I was filled with an irrational joy and skip/ran home. I called my good friend Alden to report my experience. He told me that at the same time I was out on the street by the hospital he had felt an urge to pray for me. He had called another friend of ours and they had prayed for me together.

Isaiah 46:4—“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Aaron's Advice

Taking Aaron’s advice

Aaron’s advice is to write short sentences for online blogs.

He also advices writing short paragraphs. (I must assume he promotes complete sentences unlike the fragment I just wrote.) I favor an occasional fragment.

I believe Aaron’s advice is good.

Generally I ignore good advice.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In the Beginning

Though my IQ scores are high, if I have any genius, it is my ability to arrive somewhere without knowing where I’m going. My blog will be my record of such a journey. I expect to arrive somewhere important. I have no outline, I have no purpose, I have no preconceived idea. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have a purpose but it is a felt purpose, visceral and ill defined. My purpose is to influence, to make a difference.

My definition of the church is contextual. While reading my stuff please allow the word to mean different things. It is my nice catch word with several definitions. To help you understand me, when I capitalize the word “Church” it means something supernatural. I am then referring to a body that is much bigger then its parts. When I use it without a capital I can be referring to any blowhard that believes he represents Christ on earth. I can be referring to a local church or the American church or some other variant. The little “c” demands a contextual guess at my meaning. Bear with me.

The church has taken the Bible and has written endless books based on what the Bible says. An author will take three or four lines of scripture and create a movement. One such section is I Corinthians 12.

The writer’s main point is the church is made up of people with various talents and all of their talents and contributions should be valued. He lists a variety of gifts and then compares the church to the human body. He points out that some parts of our human body are visually attractive but the less pleasant to view are just as important to the total function of the body. We should all be valued without favoritism. This is not the interpretation of most of these modern books. These writers make it the point to figure out which one of the listed gifts you have. There have been endless tests developed to determine your “Spiritual Gift”. Once you figure it out, supposedly, it helps you to better function in your gift. (Or to wear a label and refuse to function outside of the definition it assigns you.) We love boxes.

This is ridiculous. And I love it. Give me a test to define me. I love these tests. I could take tests for a living. Tell me who I am. Please explain me to me. So I can marvel at myself. I am my favorite subject, so lets talk about me some more. Go to, type in “Spiritual Gifts” you will find pages and pages of websites devoted to helping me label myself. Even as I write this I ‘m resisting the urge to go online and take a test.

I am.

Exodus 3:13-14 records a conversation between Moses and God.

“Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ’What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “

I am fascinated by this record. I am. This is the greatest mystery of the universe. I am. When I say “I am,” I am (ha, it’s unavoidable) saying “how can this be?” I am a mystery. And Moses’ God puts His Almighty finger right on the point. I AM. I have accepted this apology for God. It is enough for me. God is. I am and so is He. I am the proof that He is. He is the proof that I am. It just makes sense.

But moving on….

Being a fluid “I am” is not easy for me. I love/hate the boxes, the definitions. I want to be defined but the minute I’ve come to a conclusion I find I am in complete error and I am relieved and again searching for the elusive “I am”. My body is 80-90 percent water? How much more fluid would it take to understand I am not static?

Repeatedly I have defined myself by my circumstances. As my circumstances change I discover my definitions no longer apply.

This “I” stuff is beginning to bore even me and since my point is to grab you and be of some value to you let’s leave off on it for now.

My parents were the babies of their families of origin. My dad was a twin. His twin was sickly. In some ways that made my father older then his brother, but he acted the baby well enough. Neither of my parents was attentive. I was third born of five. Middle children get to figure things out on their own.

I was raised in the church. The Catholic, one, true Apostolic Church. Now that capital is the Catholic’s capital not mine. I believe in the Church. It is obviously more then the Catholic variety. Growing up Catholic has gotten a lot of bad press but I was not molested by priests or abused by nuns. I was awed by the incense and robes. But mostly I was bored. Being bored is one of my strongest childhood memories. I just realized that. I was usually bored. I went to Catholic schools. I remember very little about what went on inside those walls. And it was because I was lost in my head, thinking of other things, what was going on around me seemed boring. I do remember arm wrestling the boy behind me in second grade. I remember the girl that showed us how she could pull big wads of her hair out in one pull. I remember bringing string with me to school to tie to an eraser and play “crane” in the unused ink well in my desktop. I remember laying my head on my desk and putting my glass ring up against my eye. It would reflect the objects in the room in pretty patterns. I found that interesting. And somehow I don’t remember how I learned to read, write and do arithmetic.