As you read this, I’m at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with my son Tate for a three-week program that helps teens with chronic illness learn how to manage their symptoms and cope with their lives. As I write this, I’m aware each of us could probably benefit from such a clinic!
Yet, chronic illness is no joke. Tate has lived with an autonomic disorder for over three and a half years. His symptoms have ranged from severe pain to debilitating fatigue to extreme anxiety to passing out from orthostatic (blood pressure) issues. The name of his condition is hyperadrenergic POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), and over the years I’ve learned far more about the autonomic nervous system than I ever thought I would.
Nonetheless, we’ve been fortunate. We have health insurance, we live in a major metropolitan area with a POTS specialist, I have a job that allows me to flex my hours and take Tate to his innumerable medical appointments, and he attends a very small private school (paid for by both sets of grandparents) that’s made it possible for him to stay on track for graduation even when his symptoms require him to learn from home.
What I’ve discovered is that illness can be unpredictable, unfair, and unrelenting. It doesn’t consider the stress an individual or family already has, and it doesn’t care whether you’re too tired or overworked or overwhelmed to deal with one more “flare” or symptom or specialist. My connections with other families and individuals with special needs or chronic illness or other life challenges has made me intensely aware of the fragility of life and the fine line between normalcy and whatever lies on the other side. It also makes me question whether there is such a thing (as normalcy).
In addition, I’ve found out how easy it is to believe: “If we just ___________ then everything will be all right.” And so, I often put too much pressure on myself to just ___________. But the truth is, none of us has any idea whether things will be “all right.” No matter what we do. All we really have is this moment, this breath, this time, now. Thus, I urge you: make the most of it. Love yourself. Love your child. Love your partner. Love your mother. Love your friend. Love your God. Love. There’s no good excuse for anything else. Just Love. And give thanks for each good moment, while forgiving yourself and others and God for the bad. Because life is both/and. And we’re right in the middle of it.
I’m grateful to each of you, especially the Worship Committee, for making it possible for me to spend this time in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic with Tate. I’ll be out of town, working remotely, until next Thursday, 3/29, when I’ll return to DC for our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. Then I’ll head back to Minnesota, again working remotely, from 4/6-4/12. If you need to connect, please email or call my cell.
I look forward to seeing you for Holy Week and Easter. And I thank you for your prayers!
Peace and Blessings,
March for our Lives, 3/24—We’ll gather with UCC members and others from around the country for a gun violence prevention march. Our group will meet at the UCC Washington Office in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill between 9 and 11:30 am (we’ll leave to march at 11:30). For more information: March for our Lives FAQ.
Coffee Hour Conversation: Jubilee Jobs, 3/25—The Mission & Social Action Committee is excited to welcome Emily Hincher from Jubilee Jobs, an Adams Morgan based organization that helps low-income and returning citizens prepare for and find employment. Emily will tell us about their work and provide information about a Saturday, 4/21, morning of service for us to help out with mock interviews, online applications and resumes.
Maundy Thursday Service, 3/29—Join us for a 7:00 pm service of Communion & Tenebrae (Latin for “shadows”). This Holy Week Service celebrates Jesus’s Last Supper and new commandment (Love One Another) with a participatory reading of the Passion Story.
Good Friday Vigil, 3/30—We’ll gather at 1:00 pm for a vigil that includes meditation to the powerful tones of a gong at 1, 2 and 3 pm. Scripture readings and periods of silent meditation will take place in between. You are welcome to participate in any or all of the vigil.
Easter Sunday, 4/1—Join us for a 10:30 am service of Joyful Alleluias on this special day! The choir will perform Mozart’s Alleluia, and our children and youth will enjoy a celebratory Sunday School program and Easter Egg Hunt followed by a festive Coffee Hour.
Unite to End Racism Rally, 4/4—On the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the National Council of Churches (NCC) is gathering people from across the country to remember the past, recognize King’s work, and launch a comprehensive effort to end racism. The UCC will be actively engaged in this multi-year initiative. April 4 begins with a silent prayer walk to the mall, followed by an interfaith prayer service before the rally. April 5 is a lobby day. For more information: Rally to End Racism.
Many Ways to Pray Retreat, 4/6-7—Join Kris Davis and Rosemary Peters at Bon Secours Retreat Center in Marriottsville, Maryland, for a weekend of Opening. Using prayer, meditation, art and nature, we’ll explore many ways to open our hearts and minds in this season of rebirth. Cost: $175 single (overnight/3 meals) or $110 double. To register: firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Paul’s Food Pantry, 4/7—We need six volunteers to serve from 9 am-Noon at St. Paul’s Food Pantry, located at 4900 Connecticut Ave, www.stpaulslutherandc.org. Please email Jennifer: email@example.com.
Coffee Hour Conversation, How We Worship, 4/8—Dan Sack will lead us in the second of two discussions about the theology and experiences that shape how we worship. In this conversation, we’ll talk about the sacraments: baptism and communion. There are multiple understandings of both in the Christian tradition. What has been your experience? What do these rituals mean to you? Which ways of celebrating in our church and other churches have you liked/not liked?