Monday, March 24, 2008

More Workers

“The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.” Mtt. 9:37

I don’t know, maybe I am the only one, but I have always heard this verse in the context of evangelism and missions: Pray for more pastors and missionaries!!  

Not any more!

Before being readmitted to the clinic in Munich four weeks ago, we needed to get a referral from a doctor.  It being Sunday, the only way to get this was to go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.  Great! Emergency room on a Sunday!  I mean, I loved watching ER, but I had absolutely no patience for this.  After about two hours of waiting, I started acting very childishly.  I was glad no one I knew was there but Jan, who already knows how immature I am.  Later, when I regained some measure of my adulthood, I made this realization: 

There were a lot of people there! 

 There were a lot of hurting people there!  

We asked the doctor (once we finally got to see him), if it was like this every weekend.  “Saturdays are even worse.”  When I go to our family doctor here on a Monday, there are already people lined up outside the door waiting for them to open at 7:30 in the morning!  Surprise, surprise, it wasn’t any different at the private clinic in Munich.  At least this time I was in a two bed room instead of the 4 bed room just after the OP.  Imagine, that whole big hospital filled with hurting people... and now I was one of them!

In the midst of all this, I “happened” to be reading in Matthew chapter 9.  Low and behold vs. 35-38: “Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the kingdom.  AND Wherever he went he HEALED people of every sort of DISEASE and ILLNESS.  HE FELT great PITY for the CROWDS that came, because their PROBLEMS were so great and they didn’t know where to go for HELP.  They were like sheep without a shepherd.     (SO) He said to his disciples, “the harvest is so great, so pray to the Lord....(see above).”

As I was lying in my bed day after day after day in the most excruciating pain I have ever known, I was so thankful for every single person who came into our room.  My competent doctor, who spent lengthy visits (sometimes up to half an hour..just shooting the breeze and soothing my fears) and a lot of time in consultation, tests and diagnosis;  the nurses (male and female) who were there around the clock literally at the press of a button bringing me food, changing my bed, giving me medication, helping me to put my socks on, and who rescued me in the middle of the night from the bathroom from where I had to crawl back to my bed again after crumbling to the floor in pain.  Many of them knew exactly what I was going through, because they had had the same or similar back trouble, and one in particular helped to coach me through my panic attacks and muscle spasms.   I was so thankful to not be just an anonymous number, but to be treated as a person, who was more than just the sum of her momentary ills.  I was thankful for the guy who came every day and disinfected our room, picked up the stuff I had dropped, threw away my snotty tissues.  I was thankful for every phone call and visit, many from our friends who are themselves doctors or nurses. They, especially, showed an overwhelming concern and interest in every detail of my diagnosis and treatment, and wouldn’t be satisfied I was in good care until after lengthy “interrogations” (once even of my doctor! :-).  Add to this list the many helping hands from our church who have cooked meals for us, done our laundry, driven our kids to their afternoon activities, called, and even given us money for a cleaning lady! 

 I am so overwhelmed.

How grateful I am for all of these workers.  All of these people, who in one way or another, regardless of their religious orientation, have heard the call of “the Lord of the harvest,” and have responded in kind with Jesus: having pity, doing all in their power to help, heal and comfort someone like me, when I was ill and in great need.

Now, I in no way want to get down on anyone, but none of those people were either pastors or missionaries, and most of them weren't even professing "Christians".  Maybe Jesus is talking about something much more basic.  Something really quite simple.  Maybe Jesus is just longing for more normal people to open their eyes to the hurt and pain and sorrows around them, because it really is everywhere.  Maybe he is crying out to his Father for more people to be moved to an active compassion for one another.  Any people.  Any where.  

Me, for example.

Friday, March 21, 2008


How fast can you say this word?  I’ve gotten pretty good at it in the mean time.  Comes with practice.  Spondylodiscitis is the name of what has been keeping me bed tied and on drugs for the last 8 weeks and counting.  After 20 years of recurrent disk protrusions and related back trouble, this latest round, beginning last August, just didn’t seem to want to yield to my otherwise very adept therapist.  After initially trying to stave off the endoscopic surgery prescribed by a specialist in Munich to remove the core of two disks and patch up the protrusions, I finally surrendered to this “minor” surgical procedure 8 weeks ago.  Five days later I was home again reading Jonathan’s book, “Ink Heart,” getting myself acquainted with my new Macbook and generally taking it easy until the surgery wounds would heal, and I could get around to business as usual.  It was not to be so.  Although the surgery wounds did subside, another pain on the opposite side grew stronger with each day.  Several trips to both our family doctor and the surgeon in Munich, days and nights of pain that truly deserve the word excruciating, and disaster morphine reactions brought me back to the hospital in Munich.  Diagnosis: spinal infection of the vertebrae and disks, ie Spondylodiscitis.  Heavy dosages of antibiotics, lots of anti-inflammatory drugs, two weeks in the hospital, nine IV’s, bed rest and tons of patience. I was naive enough to think that after giving birth three times, I had had the worst behind me.  I had some of my darkest moments ever during those two weeks, and it was in many ways a total eye opener for me regarding certain facts of life I am prone to ignore.  Laying only on my sides, i was in no position to write, nor did I have the concentration to read.  I am allergic to day-time tv, so I had lots of time to observe and to think.  I am hoping that in the next few blog entries I will be able to share some of these reflections.

I’ve been home for two weeks now and am in considerably less pain.  I still need quite a large dose of patience, for it could be another couple of months before I am over this.  Thank God for my Macbook!      

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama Speech

I've been trying to keep up with the Hillary, Obama race as best I can on internet resources.   And I must say, the more I hear Obama, the more impressed i am with him.  Just got this link  Obama speach: race relaions to a speech he gave (where, when i don’t know). I cried while reading it!! What a mature and honorable way to respond to the media magnified "association" accusations with his pastor. Not only does he not let himself get backed into a corner, but he uses this situation as an opportunity to really lead the nation to a higher discourse on this very relevant subject. I am fascinated, not only by his personal story, which is simply amazing, but by what appears to me to be the deep calling and gifting to integration that comes from this history. 

Hillary, although perhaps more polished and savvy, has neither been able to gain my trust nor inspire me.  I've never been a Clinton fan, tried to read her autobiography (never finished the whiny, self-defending, explaining away all the mistakes of their time in office book), and of course i haven't followed her political career from over here, so I am certainly no judge of her character or competence, but there is just something missing that is crucial to me for the trust issue.  And whatever that is, Obama seems to have it.  It is all through this speech.  Humility, transparency, not putting himself at arms length to the things that might be political disadvantages, but embracing his rather odd story and identity wholly and unabashedly.  And quite honestly, his manor alone (and of his wife) is enough to win me over.  I feel like I could just sit down over a coffee with him and have a conversation...the kind where both listen and are interested.  With Hilary, I have the feeling I better have some good one liners on hand or I will be served for dinner.  And of course there is the word that I am certainly not the first to use of her, but which does capture my impressions so far:  Polarizing!  

Well, I hope I figure out a way to vote this year.  For the first time in many elections, I actually want and am inspired to.   lee

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bored in Church: Poetry to the rescue!

t is true; I have to admit it: I am ever increasingly bored in church. And I do believe with good reasons, but more on those at some other time. My saving grace has been to bring my journal and pen and see where my thoughts take me. One frosty Sunday morning, waiting for the service to finally be over, eyes glued on the glorious nature outside the large windowed wall of our sanctuary, I wrote the following poem (no doubt that it is self revealing), so all was not lost.

Oh you leafless tree
You bundle of bare, wooden arms and fingers
Frantically groping for new life
You pathetic and naked collection of sticks and twigs
Still bound to trunk and bark
How cruelly the maple orphans her stoic branches
And the mighty oak humbles summer’s lofty limbs
How humiliating this sapless slumber
How bitter this winter exit,
leaving pine and fir to take center stage

Cold and colder.
Dark and darker.
Until that long solstice night gives way to
Morning's magic light
Then all nature catches her breath
and is dazzled by the sight
Some mysterious Confectioner
has crafted from their boughs
A frosted bouquet of delight

O you leafless tree
Redeemed from your shameful uncovered state
Crowned with sparkling ice diamonds
Standing nobly before this Bavarian blue curtain
to receive a winter encore
For even out of your cold, dark, lifeless enemy,
Heaven has made something beautiful.