The last few weeks have been packed full. There’s been some amazingly wonderful stuff… and there’s been some real crap. I’ll start with the thanksgivings.
I’ve talked for a couple years about becoming a spiritual director, and over the last about-9-months, I became one. I haven’t been to any classes or training. It just sort of… happened! My alter ego (can a Sister be an altar ego?) has had several people come to her with questions, and the relationships formed into just this model. One is a recent convert to Christianity, who is being baptized at Easter. Another has allowed me to witness their conversion from not believing to being willing to admit the Divine might exist to believing with all their heart. Another lives in an abusive relationship. All are broken, as I am. All are a bit quirky. All are very intelligent. All have struggled with depression. I cannot tell you the blessings I have received from this work. I am in awe at how God can work through us, in such deep and powerful ways. There’s a major event at my parish church in a few weeks, and I’ve donated 3 months of spiritual companion services (because I much prefer companion to director). I hope this ministry is helpful for God’s children.
The new rector at our parish is fabulous! He is plugged in to the Holy Spirit and actively listens for God to point him and our church to our next work for the Kingdom. And — you’re never going to believe this! — I’ve joined the praise band for our contemporary service. Yup, I’m playing flute with the band, and I’m having a blast doing it! I have missed making music terribly, and I’m so glad to be able to serve the church in this way. It’s been quite a while since I’ve played in jazz bands or done improv, so I’m stretching those skills and taking some risks. That’s almost always a good thing.
God willing, I will take my life vows with the Anglican Dominicans this summer at Chapter. I’ve been leading our annual online lenten retreat, on the theme of narrative, and that’s been fun. I’m finding that our mind-heavy Aquinas-Dominicans are less interested than our more heart-oriented Eckhart-Catherine-Dominicans, but that’s okay. A couple weeks ago, I heard our new fabulous rector refer to a certain mystic as being “pretty out there,” and shared my (very slight) offense at this with my husband later. He asked me, “What, you mean to tell you that you aren’t pretty out there?” I said, “Well, yeah, but he shouldn’t say that about all my fellow mystics!” Then I laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of this, especially because I’d written a reflection just a week before about mystics and how we’re all sort of “out there.” I can be pretty protective, but it’s weird to be protective of people (saints, even!) who have been dead for centuries.
I am joyfully living into another new ministry at the parish. Our “family area” in the nave is in a place where you can’t see the altar, so when the children become bored because they feel excluded from the Important Adult Business — which worship should never be! — they can become noisier and annoy the Important Adults around them. Being a rather untall person myself, I know how icky it can feel when you can’t see what’s going on. So I now sit with all the children who want to, right in the center aisle, on the floor, where we can all see what’s happening during the Eucharistic Prayer. I like to say that we do this because churches are short-sighted that they don’t provide sycamore trees for us, like Zaccheus climbed to see Jesus. When I used this line with one gentleman at church, he said, “We could do that!” We had fun exploring what it would be like to have a tree in the middle of the nave: the symbolism, the places to climb and sit, the ways we could decorate it and use it as part of our worship. It was fun, in a totally liturgy-geeky way.
I continue to work part-time on disability, and I continue to wait for my disability claim to be approved. It is in appeal, and the decision is due any time now. Meanwhile, I owe about six months of child support, am perpetually a month behind on my car loan, and seem to stay about a month late on most of our other bills, too. Some days I want to echo Teresa of Avila: God, if this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them!
On Wednesday, I had my second appointment with the new rheumatologist, who turned up an active chronic Epstein-Barr infection. So that goes onto the diagnosis list, along with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Proportionate Short Stature (yeah, I’m Little), and a severe Vitamin D Deficiency. I’ve learned some things about these conditions this week, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it all yet. For example, I’m finding increasing numbers of people labeling CFS as an auto-immune disorder. I’m finding CEBV described variously as a form of CFS, a potential cause of some cases of CFS, and as a separate (but similar) disorder. I’m learning that EBV will become active pretty frequently, but only becomes symptomatic in those whose immune systems are faulty somehow. I’m learning that there are physical changes in the brains of PWCs (persons with CFS), a reduction in grey matter and increase in white matter — so the “brain fog” and other cognitive effects are not only real, but are based in physical matter. This terrifies me. I’ve learned that each recurrence of EBV infection increases one’s likelihood of developing lupus later in life.
The rheumatologist has recommended to my primary doctor that she send me to a specialist in infectious diseases, and I’m expecting to have my immune system checked out as well. I need a new echocardiogram — these are recommended for EDSers to have annually — and a bone scan.
It’s all just so much stuff. And oh yeah, here comes Holy Week. Maplestar and I are ready to sleep until Ascensiontide. I expect there’s a significant number of clergy and other Professional Christians who feel the same way.