Are You Too Busy To Listen?

Are You Too Busy To Listen?

“Storehouses” – Extended.
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you, Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

Still you keep on and keep on, playing your game.
The more you control, you’ll victory claim.
And, all will know, “You’re living the dream.”
But, when it comes crashing down, what will it mean?

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Image Description: Sunlight breaking through clouds. Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity lately. How we take and turn something intended to be positive and recast it in our own image. You can read a little about this in my previous blog post, “Where Will You Store Your Treasure?”

We are good at that, we humans. If we can control everything through our own efforts, we don’t have to rely on anyone or anything else. Sure, we might offer our words to G-d but to actually trust, especially in something we cannot see, that’s a different story.

That’s the myth of productivity. If I just work harder, I’ll get ahead. However, I’ve witnessed many people work hard only to end up on the short end of things. It’s easy to see if you’re looking. It happens all the time, actually.

Further, this notion of never ending work isn’t biblical either. I heard a message this week based on Luke 16:19-31. (Hat tip to Rev. Matt Kofahl of the St. James and Hope United Methodist Churches in Niagara Fall and Sanborn, NY respectively.)

The narrative tells the story of two recently deceased people; one rich, one poor. In a twist as shocking to the initial hearer of Jesus’ story as it is to us, it is the rich man who finds himself far away from G-d as the poor man is comforted.

Didn’t the rich man do everything right? By worldly standards, certainly, this is true. However, as the rich man cries out in agony he is told quite simply, “You received your good things already.”  (Verse 25)

On the other hand, look at the poor man, Lazarus. He couldn’t work. He couldn’t even get himself to the rich man’s gate. He was laid there! (Verse 20) It’s as if we have everything backwards in our human brokenness. Less is more.

I have to rely on G-d when I can’t rely on myself.

When you can do nothing, G-d still loves you because Love is not dependent on what you do. It’s dependent on G-d.

Back in the Luke 19 parable, the rich man begs for someone to warn his relatives only to be told as Jesus foreshadows his own resurrection, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Verse 31)

The same message holds true for us. The only question is, “Are You Too Busy To Listen?”

Wherever you find yourself this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions. 
Peace Love and Acceptance

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

“Storehouses”
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Image description: Sun breaking through clouds. – Pixels.com

Hey all!

I’ve been super sick for some time now. I hope to be back on a regular writing schedule soon. I appreciate your prayers and support. Please keep them coming.

In the meantime, I’ve been pondering the state of our world. The profit at any cost narrative and its accompanying notion that if you just work hard enough you’ll get ahead.

This, as I’m fond of saying, is bullshit.

Now, I’m not against working as you are able, but a person’s defined worth is not based on their productivity. Your worth is inherent. Read the Bible.

In fact, you don’t even need to read your preferred holy writing.
Use Google. It’s talked about a lot.

Sadly, I am still too sick to dig in with any depth for now, but this is a narrative put in place by those at top to keep you right where you are now.

You can work for them or you can die. From a disability point of view, this is what brings about the super-crip or die scenarios where one can either overcome their disability or it is a fate worse than death.

However, what if this is a lie? What if the reverse is true?

What is Love really is about expanding the circle until everyone is included?
(Matthew 22:36-40)

Maybe Jesus was right when he said you can’t serve G-d and money.
(Matthew 6:24)

Your hoards of gold might shield you for a time but this is temporary.

Until next time friends, live, be well, and don’t forget: Wherever you find yourself this day, especially if you are on the margins, Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Thanks, again for the prayers!

Peace Love and Acceptance

The Chronic Pain of Chronic Pain

The Chronic Pain of Chronic Pain

“Push”
The push away
The tension
Cries
The in between
Disconnected lives

To carry on
Can be no more
The hurt
The pain
The days we mourn

What once lived here
We can no more pretend
Pushed too far
This is the end.

The most difficult thing to explain to non disabled people is chronic pain. It comes and goes without rhyme or reason. Sure, sometimes, experience dictates you might feel worse after engaging in activity but you never really know.

My life, never really one of feeling good in recent years, has been in a more extreme downswing over the last few months. Hence, my lack of blogs here.

…The one little thing I do as I can that makes me feel like I’m an active participant in the world… I can’t do. I just haven’t been physically or mentally able to keep going.

I hope that changes, it likely will improve a little eventually, and then revert back the other direction. That’s chronic pain. You just don’t know.

It’s exhausting on every level.

Sometimes, just to avoid giving up, you do things anyway although, again, it’s sort of a one shot deal knowing more pain is coming.

69367806_10214683585783976_7380800624142581760_o
Image description: Man with glasses, beard, blue hoodie, red shorts and gloves seated in a wheelchair. Woman with red hair, glasses, gray and white shirt, and jeans standing. Between them, team mascot standing; a brown dog with tongue sticking out and red shirt.

Last night, my wife and I went to a local minor league playoff baseball game – Awesome.

Today, I’m dealing with higher than normal (even by my standards) back and leg pain as a result – Not Awesome.

I’d love to get more sleep. About four hours a night is my average since my knee replacement in 2015. Last night was a little less and, frankly, I’m struggling.

At least we won the game

This is my life with chronic pain. I hope to write more soon.

Wherever you are this day, remember, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

I’ll try to remember those words apply to me too.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Tormented by Sleep

Tormented by Sleep

“Tormented by Sleep”
Tormented by sleep
As hours tick by
Tormented by sleep
Let out a sigh

Pain is too great
Long to be free
Tormented by sleep
Gaslighting me

Available remedies
None presenting peace
Long for my release
Nightly enemy

Tormented by sleep
Day after day
Tormented by sleep
Take me away.

alone bed bedroom blur
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com Image Description: Person flat on stomach in bed. Covered completely by a sheet except feet sticking out.

There’s a lot going on in our world. I hoped to talk about some of it today. However, my body is not cooperating.

Disability is like that. You never know how you will feel.

Today, like many days, I feel bad. This is just part of my story.

All I have today is a poem inspired by near nightly painsomnia but I’m sharing because, if you are struggling with pain of any sort, I want you to know you aren’t alone.

That’s part of my story too.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

Are You Hiding Behind Your Smile?

Are You Hiding Behind Your Smile?

“My Sanguine Shell”
Sanguine
Shell
Fake

Pain
Anxiety
Depression
Regression

Rudderless Ship
Assailed by Stormy Seas
Wave Battered
Sinking
No Release

SOS
Drowned
As Smiles Abound.

 

photo of thunderstorm
Photo by Rodrigo Souza on Pexels.com

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”Matthew 16:18

Do you ever wonder if others can really see you; not just what’s on the surface but underneath? It probably doesn’t happen most of the time. We’ve become good hiders.

That’s what I love about the dynamics between Jesus and his disciple, Peter.

Peter gets it wrong as much as right. He sinks in water instead of focusing on Jesus. He goes around chopping off ears. Still, Jesus sees and loves him. He sees the possibilities behind the fearful surface Peter exudes.

That’s the heart of God. It does the same for us. It strips away all the coverings of brokenness and finds the good underneath. Yet, I still wrestle with this.

I know God can see me completely, but I still cover it up. Talk about hubris.

I hide my true self from others too. Vulnerability is scary. They won’t accept me if they know my weaknesses.

Except, we all have weaknesses. Some of us might be better at hiding them but we all have weaknesses, fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. So, what if we didn’t hide them?

Maybe we’d all be better off if we were a little more honest with ourselves and each other. Maybe, we could engage in meaningful conversation and begin to break through all our divisions.

I don’t think it’s easy. Being vulnerable might be more difficult for us than building equitable systems and relationships and, frankly, we are pretty bad at both these things.

However, since I have to start somewhere. Maybe this change starts with me.

I hope you’ll join me in building coalitions of love, justice, vulnerability, and equity. In doing so I believe we are truly being faithful disciples of Jesus.

What do you think?

God, you see my heart.
You know my
hurts and pains.
You sit with me in my brokenness and comfort me.
Use me as you will to be open to the hearts of others.
Help me be open too that I might sit with them and together we might know your peace even amidst sadness and uncertainty.
May this be my p
rayer.

Amen. Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

“Justice”
Judge not.
But, what about justice?
Lord, will there be equity?
How long must we wait,
For heaven’s sake?
Watching others die,
Pain exchanged,
For personal gains.

Reveal your plans,
Here and now,
Let Love transformed,
Become the norm.
Just make it soon.
Can’t you see?
I’m dying too.

inside photography of church
Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Hey Y’all,

I planned to write something else today (and, have it up before now) but, I’m exhausted.

One of the most difficult aspects of chronic pain is that you never know what you’re going to get.

I know I’ve overworked my body recently, which isn’t saying much by nondisabled body standards frankly, but I’m feeling pretty bad. My entire body hurts.

If you are a praying sort, prayers are appreciated.

Positive thoughts are always welcome here. 

Another part of my struggle with chronic pain is what I call painsomnia.

Simply put, that’s insomnia caused by pain and, in case it isn’t clear by now, I don’t sleep much.

So, here I am.

Exhausted and typing for public consumption. There’s probably a law against this somewhere. If it’s in my bedroom, I’ll plead cripple ignorance.

Anyway, I digress…

I know many people have it worse. This is also a frustration of mine.

I think about these things at night while not sleeping.

We live in a world filled with injustice. 

Racism.

People exploiting others for their personal economic gain.

Outright hate.

There’s prejudice of all kinds for many people.

Maybe it’s always existed but it seems worse than in recent memory.

Meanwhile, overtly and covertly, those on top by virtue of privilege are still working to make more, pay less, and take more away from the rest of us. 

Look at healthcare.

The elite are in court right now working to take away the few remaining protections of the Affordable Care Act. (USA) Things like coverage for preexisting conditions.

Social Security and Medicare coming next.

(I feel like I’ve talked about this before, though, I’m too tired to look it up.) 

You don’t have to look too hard to find something happening that will hurt most of us in one way or another in exchange for profits. There are plenty of examples.

Some folks are just marginalized more than others.

That’s intentional. 

If they can keep the fighting focused on the fears of those who have little and those who have less, they win. Divide and conquer.

This strategy is working. They’re on top! 

The disparity between the top and the bottom is growing while the middle is shrinking.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sleep. But, sleeping is what brought us here.

And, I get frustrated. I want justice now.

I know Love works toward justice.

I just wonder how many people will die waiting for change? 

I wonder, “Will it be me?”

That’s the thing about justice. Prayers are good. Action is better. 

One of the mantras I repeat most often is “God’s Love works most often through our own hands and hearts.”

God doesn’t need me but God can use me.

I’m reminded of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

So, here I am.

I’m awake anyway.

How about you?

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Simulation Incomplete

Simulation Incomplete
“Labels”
When you label me,
You negate me,
Your simulation incomplete.
So, clearly,
Please hear me,
As I tell you what I need. 
Inclusion
Acceptance 
To know I am enough. 
In this way, 
Living forward,
What it means to be
God’s love.

The following piece is cross posted in conjunction with my friend, Tim Vermande, who writes at Flying Kitty Monster. His reflections from a recent conversation are below along with this graphic from G. Lake Dylan.
use stairs

My friend, and co-conspirator who wrote the poem above, Chris of Crip Pastor remarked a few days ago while writing about a particular event that he is not trying to join in some “oppression Olympics,” what with so much of nation in an attack mode lately, but to share experience. It is true that even allies don’t often fully understand, but almost everyone can be in solidarity from common roots–as I once said about another group at seminary, we all have an interest in being judged for who we are, not by appearance.

As I read that, my thoughts turned to conversations about disability simulations. In a simulation, limbs are tied to splints, blindfolds worn, or similar measures. The intent is to give a feeling for what it’s like to live with a disability. The idea of giving a feeling is true enough–I once had a class of interior designers try to simply enter a room and reach the wall switch while in a wheelchair. It was an enlightening time.

But it wasn’t complete–it lasted an hour. An hour is not a lifetime (or the time of a life since an injury). After a quite troubled week of access problems, I list some real-life things that a disability simulation will probably never convey:

  • Making a hotel reservation well in advance, confirming it by phone, and arriving to find that the accessible room isn’t available after all.
  • Asking extensively several times at a theatre about wheelchair seating, only to find that you’ve been given inaccurate information, and have to sit by yourself in isolation.
  • Being told that a place is accessible, only to find a step or two when you arrive, and then being told, “well, it’s only a small step.”
  • The exhaustion of taking a 20-minute paratransit trip that picks you up an hour late, takes two hours while the driver crams in a last-minute addition (which takes you past your house twice) and ends up taking more than 2 hours, so you miss dinner and part of your meeting.
  • The time that evaporates as you call ahead, plan ahead, and hope (as noted, sometimes to no avail) for an event.
  • Entering a restaurant in winter, looking forward to eating with friends in a warm atmosphere, you see that there are a lot of open tables, but you are taken to a cramped booth (with fixed seats) next to the take-out door.
  • Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the fire alarm sounds and the elevators shut down.
  • Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the power goes out.
  • Giving your wheelchair to an attendant on an airplane, not knowing if you will ever see it again, if it will get shuffled to the wrong place, or if it will be damaged.
    in case of fire, use stairs -- person in a wheelchair on stairs
  • The look of surprise when someone realizes that, despite some problem here or there, you are an intelligent, functional human being worthy of respect.

  • And finally, the feeling of being alone when you are too exhausted to go out, or left out because of access or transportation problems, or someone hasn’t caught on to the previous item yet.

— Poem by Chris Wylie
— Post by Tim Vermande
— illustration by G. Lake Dylan