Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jeremiah Wright

I watched Jeremiah Wright's speech to the NAACP in Detroit tonight.
What a great speaker he is. His message was that people are "different and not deficient."
And that he is "descriptive - not divisive."
Example upon example in education, music, language, and finally homiletics - that the African Americans are different and not deficient.

He was entertaining and yet right to the point. I thought it was wonderful.

Now CNN is showing reaction to the speech starting with an adjunct professor from George Washington University who is saying this is going to be bad for the Obama campaign. And she is alarmed that he is citing an old study that says that African American children learn differently from European American children. She is also saying he could have been more contrite.

At what point does this man get to defend himself (and his church) after he has been maligned for the past two months?

This makes me crazy.
Anyway, I hope everyone gets a chance to see this speech. I think it is terrific!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Leaving Chicago

We will be leaving soon. Chuck and I will drop by the hospital and spend some time with Ellen before we make the drive back home.

and now we know more than we did.

We know that it is cancer and it (probably) started in the lungs and then went to the neck and the brain.

We do not know the pathology, but we know that she will probably start with 10 to 12 days of radiology in the hospital on the brain and the neck area.

We kow that she will eventually come home and start treatment - (chemo?) for the lung area.

We know that this is going to be a long journey.

We also know that her family is ready to help her and walk with her as much as we possibly can.

We know that life has changed - and will never be the same.

I think of Psalm 46 - which I read to people at church when they go through these times. Life is so uncertain and there are these episodes where everything has changed so radically.
I believe that under everything and around everything is our God.

Here is Psalm 46:
1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
6The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah


Friday, April 25, 2008

From Chicago

I sit in my sister Ellen's office writing this and she is in the hospital at Rush Presbyterian in downtown Chicago.

Yesterday she had a laminectomy. I am a big picture person, so I never exactly get the details - but this much I know - they had to do more than they thought on her surgery. And at the same time, because the bone tissue was soft, they could not do as much as they wanted.

Of course, nothing is for sure because tissue will be biopsied, but the resident who spoke to us afterward suggested that there was some cancer cells possibly in the thyroid, lungs and lymph nodes. This is not good.

Meanwhile, Ellen lays in her bed optimistic and ready to fight this terrible illness. It is hard to realize that three days ago she was relatively OK and now has a terrible awareness of tumors in her head and body.

As I look at her in bed she looks like my father and my brother Wayne. And herself - a very strong woman. After surgery, you can see that she is worrying about her family and trying to make sense of all of this.

Right now we have many more questions than we have answers.
I am a woman of God who knows that in the midst of this storm there is God who is loving, strengthening, healing and holding us all.

God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prayers for my sister

Everything changes in a minute.
I got a phone call from my brother in law Tom who told me that my sister Ellen has a brain tumor and a mass on her spine. As we were speaking she was being flown by helipcopter to the hospital in Chicago.
Everything changes in a minute.

I have spent the last four hours calling family, emailing friends and clearing my schedule so Chuck and I can go to Chicago tomorrow.

There are many, many questions - but all I know is that we want to be there with Tom and Samantha and Sarah.

One of the things I found myself doing was getting Ellen's name on prayer lists.
I believe in the power of prayer.
So, whoever is reading this - please keep Ellen Hughes in your prayers. We pray for healing - body, mind, soul, spirit, relationships.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rest in Peace, George

This morning we took George our cat to the vets and within 15 minutes got a phone call that told us that George was not going to be able to make it.

George has been lethargic and in pain for 2 days and we thought perhaps he had eaten something - but it turns out that he had crystals forming in his urethra and he a urinary tract infection. Apparently this happens with male cats.

We had a hard decision - it would have cost $450 - $500 for his care for this week with no guarantee that we would not be coming back later for surgery. We cannot afford it.

So, George was euthenized and this afternoon we will bury him in our back yard with a tree or a bush as a marker.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am hardly a pet person and not exactly a cat person. But George was special. We got him about 10 years ago. He was in the barn at the Wood County Historical Society and so we named him George. (after Washington!) He was black and white and pretty independent. Hardly ever meowed - except when he was hungry.

Over the years however, he has spent a lot of time on my lap and often slept with me and Chuck if we let him. My morning always started with making coffee as he wrapped himself around my legs waiting for me to go downstairs to feed him.

The coolest (or the weirdest) thing that George did was that he batted and growled at his tale as if it were the enemy. We always wanted to get a video of that.

He was not good with the grandkids because he was our cat. Not theirs. They were in his territory and he let them know.

We are going to miss George.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

home again

Thursday night home again from our vacation.
At some point I will do a whole blog on the retreat with Julia Cameron. It was really wonderful.
There were over 100 women at the retreat on "True North: Finding your Creativity" and the women themselves were impressive. I was really impressed with her format. She taught us and then asked some very questions and then gave us time to cluster and talk. At one point she gave us four questions to reflect on and had us take a walk for 30 minutes. Lots of ways of helping to break through our resistence and to be freed from the inhibitions to create.

So I come home with intention - to continue to do the Morning Pages. I have kept at it every morning for a week. I also bought a new journal for that (of course) and today in the airport - a new pen. I do this all the time - every time I start a new spiritual practice I have to start by buying new. I also got 2 candles in Sedone - one for me and one for Susan so that we can light our candles as we do our morning pages. I also intend to walk in the morning. I just hope I stay with it.

Sedona is so beautiful I found myself looking at real estate ads and thinking maybe Chuck and I should just take a year off and live in a little apartment and I will work in a gift shop. We met many people from the midwest who got "Red Rock Fever" visiting there and just did it! I can understand that.

And what a blessing to be with an old friend. Susan is the only friend I have who knew me when I was 18. And I have no one - except brothers and sister - who knew me as a child. There is a comfort to be with someone who knew you when.

Last night we watched the debate together - which is a treat in and of itself. We both groaned over the 45 minutes of Charlie and George asking questions about misstatements in campaigning and Rev Wright and other peripheral stuff. My sense is that Barak is trying to campaign on the issues and the media just goes for the gaffes (and Hillary thrives on that!).

Anyway, I am back home again and hoping that some of the creativity is going to bloom within me and my life.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday in Phoenix

Chuck and I just took a walk to a second hand store and now we are getting ready to go to Sedona for 5 days. Susan and Ken have rented a timeshare.
It should be beautiful there.

Yesterday I read most of "The Writing Diet" by Julia Cameron. The retreat we are going to is being led by Julia Cameron. So, here are some highlights from the book -

1. Do "Artist's Pages" every day. This concept was in her book "The Artist's Way." It means to start the day with three pages written. Three notebook sized pages - 8 by ll. Not journal sized pages. That is a lot of writing. the point is to get out what is within us. She used the image "getting current" which means to get in the current. And the artists pages reveal the blocks to the current. I have done this in the past and know it is helpful. And I recognize that i need it.

2. She writes about walking. And interestingly, I had just come back from a long walk with the realization that I need to do that every day. She quoted someone as saying that the artist's pages are sending (messages to God) and that the walking is receiving. (messages from God) and that is true for me so many times. In walking I have insights that are so helpful in sermons and in just planning my life. She calls them "Alpha Ideas" - thoughts that seem to come from a higher power. She quotes a Zen master who writes about "walking the self" and often I say (to myself!) "I am going to take myself for a walk" Hmmmm

3. She writes about journaling all day long. Keeping a journal with you so that you notice when you eat and when you want to eat. The events of your life and the emotions that trigger you desire to eat.

4. She writes about the 4 questions - when you want to eat.
  • Am I hungry?
  • Is this what I want to eat?
  • Is this what I want to eat now?
  • Is there something I can eat instead?

This is not exactly new - but helpful.

I am hoping to literally get myself on track into a healthier way to start the day. I have been a journaler in the past and have not gotten into a regular routine and I have been a morning walker in the past. Now that it is spring - maybe I can jumpstart my way into a new pattern.

The other wonderful event of yesterday was seeing Audrey. What a great coincidence that she was in Phoenix for a Bethany Fellows retreat and yesterday afternoon was their "fun time" and she could get away to have dinner with me and Chuck and Susan and Ken in a cuban restaurant. We sat outside in the patio and had a wonderful meal and great conversation.

I just loved the oppportunity to bring Audrey who I love together with susan and Ken who I love. Wow. What a blessing.

Now today - on to Sedona and a two day retreat!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Walking in Phoenix

A quick post to say that I am on vacation in Phoenix and so happy to be here.
I am sitting alone in my friend Susan's home. I took a long walk this morning which was a blessing. It is different walking in Phoenix than in Columbus. The sky seems bluer, the houses are "southwestern" , the flowers are abundant and so fragrant.

This week is - except for a two day retreat - unplanned time. What a gift.
I have brought four books to read and immediately Susan recommended more.

I look forward to spending time with Chuck and Susan and Ken ---but what a great beginning to be having time alone.

Monday, April 7, 2008

when you grow up.....

I started a new Bible study on Sunday morning and one of the opening questions was: when you were a child - what did you want to be when you grew up?

And as a good leader I went first. And said that I wanted to write broadway shows. I remember reading about George S. Kaufman and many other around the Algonquin table and I thought what a wonderful life to work with other people creating shows. I also always wanted to have a partner. Not to do it by myself. You know - Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe.

Now, the people I envy the most are the Coen brothers - how cool it must be to do movies together with your brother.

And I realize that in some ways - I may not be writing broadway shows - but I am part of putting together a production every week. We call it worship. I also realize that I want to be part of a team that does that. There is nothing to me that is more wonderful than dreaming up ideas with other people and then later watching them come together on a Sunday morning.

The other part that is so funny now -( that I am as old as I am) is that we make our plans and I usually put the service together early in the week and by Sunday I have forgotten all of the elements and am often awed by how well it all fits together.

Anyway, I realize that I am really blessed to be doing something that is a variation of what I wanted to do when I grew up!
Are you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I know that my Nora Ephron post contradicts my mini rant
Point being: you can write and say anything if you do it with wit and style!

Nora Ephron

I love Nora Ephron and I have loved her for thirty years. I first came to like her writing when she wrote a column in Equire Magazine in the 70's and have followed her forever. She wrote an article in the Huffington Post that really resonated with me about Hillary Clinton.

Like me, she used to like her and now is disillusioned.
This is what she writes:

"I would like to put myself among the growing chorus of people demanding that Hillary Clinton withdraw from the election. I don't really think it's fair to ask her to withdraw, and I certainly don't believe she's going to; she'll hang in there till the last dog dies, or till she runs out of money, whichever comes first. I'm not asking her to withdraw because I prefer Obama, and I don't think she should withdraw "for the sake of party unity," or whatever current bromide is being flung at her to get her to pull out. I think she should withdraw because I'm losing my mind.
Don't get me wrong, this primary election has been swell. Like Michelle Obama, I feel proud of my country for the first time in a long time. I loved Dennis Kucinich, and I had a big sneaker for Chris Dodd. But now that we're down to two contenders, it's turned into an unending last episode of Survivor. They're eating rats and they're frying bugs, and they're frying rats and they're eating bugs; no one is ever going to get off the island and I can't take it any more.

I am particularly sensitive to this because I'm a woman of a certain age, and this means that part of the pie that passes for my brain contains a large slice called Hillary. I've been thinking about her in a fairly pathological way ever since 1992 and dreaming about her as well. She is me, and then again she's not. I used to love her and I no longer do, but unlike what usually happens when love dies, I still think about her far too much. When she tells a big lie, like her recent Bosnia episode, I can lose hours trying to figure out why. I mean, why? Was it one of those things that she'd said so often that she'd come to believe it? Was it a story that had worked in the past so she thought she'd gotten away with it? Did she honestly think that no one would rat her out? Does she not understand that if you're famous, there's almost nothing you do that someone doesn't have a picture of? I have no idea what the answer is to any of this because I'm not a liar and she is. (By the way, I don't think she was always a liar, the way some kids are born liars and never get over it. I think she was once a truthful person and her lying skills were forged in the early years of her marriage, forged in the crucible of Bill's infidelities and in her role as point person in dealing with them. This is what happens when you marry a narcissist: he spills the milk, you clean it up and your love grows. And then you end up a liar, just like him.)
But the point is that it doesn't matter why Hillary lied; what matters is that I'm hooked on Hillary and on the Rorschach process that defines my relationship with her: she does something, I spend far too much time thinking about it, I superimpose my life and my choices onto hers, I decide how I feel about what she's done, I bore friends witless with my theories, and then, instead of moving on, I'm confronted with yet another episode of her behavior and am forced to devote more hours to developing new theories about her behavior. I don't have time for this.
I understand that asking Hillary to withdraw from the race has more to do with me than it does with her, but that's my point."

Isn't she great?