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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Welcome, Welcome

When you run into people in July, they usually ask, "How's your summer going?" I'm not quite sure how to answer this. Should I mention that my computer, my phone, my car, and my watch all went on the fritz about a week and a half ago? Should I share that my daughter's asthma seems to be flaring up because I took her off Advair, intending to find a homeopath for her, but never getting around to it? Should I say, "Fine. The kids are having fun at camp." Or should I share that we enrolled my mother in a hospice program last week?

If it's a good friend, I tell them about my mother. Most people get a tragic look when they hear the word "hospice," and I think it's those reactions, as much as anything else, that has gotten me more in touch with my sadness. My mother's condition hasn't actually worsened. She's still living on her own, able to fix her meals and make her bed, though with greater effort. All that's changed is that she's gotten clearer about not wanting to take antibiotics every day for the rest of her life or go to the hospital every time she gets a cough. What's also changed is that we now have a team of people ready to help her, and me. My mother seems relieved and said the other day, "I think everything is going to work out." She's dreaming a lot about people who she's known who have died.

A few days ago I was catching up with a friend, telling her about my mother, about how the children are complaining that "visiting Grandma is boring," and about how Tom has had a lot of extra meetings lately, in addition to his job interviews. My friend asked what I was doing to nurture myself, and I answered, "Writing."

"You're the only writer I know who is really clear about that," she responded, a comment that surprised me since my friend is a former editor who must know many writers. It is so clear to me that writing nurtures me, whether or not the work is ever published. Perhaps I assume this is true for everyone.

I woke up in a bit of a panic this morning, realizing that after this week of camp I won't have any scheduled writing time until school starts in seven weeks. And then I'll be teaching a new course that is already taking a lot of preparation. I'm sure I'll squeeze in a few writing hours in August, but it will be stolen time. Then I remember all the chores that need to be done this week--fixing the computer and the car, meeting with the hospice social worker, finding that homeopath--and I think of the quickie prayer we learned in the workshop I attended a few weeks ago. When things are tense and you want to invite God's presence into the situation, you can say, "Welcome, welcome, welcome." The theory is that the Divine is always present, but we need to consent to that presence, become open to it. So far, I have usually said, "Welcome, welcome, welcome," with my teeth somewhat clenched, but that feels so ridiculous that it usually makes me smile at myself. There's something in it that changes my perspective, widening the frame I'm looking through so my problems don't seems so big.

I think fixing the computer can wait another week. Instead I'll welcome the few hours I have left to write and try to be open to whatever August brings. But I'll need many reminders.


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