Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cataract Surgery

Well, one eye done and in two weeks the other.
Many people have had cataract surgery and there is no question that it is easier than it used to be. When you had to stay still for over a week.

Everyone told me that it is no big deal. And in many ways it wasn't. My doctor's office is extremely organized and they certainly know what they are doing.

However, it is still surgery.

What happens is that you are put to sleep for 4 minutes in which they do something to your eyes. Something that deadens half of your head and makes your eye open. I think.
My theory is to not learn too much about exactly what they are doing.

All I know is that when I woke up I was in the operating room. Which was okay - I closed my other eye and prayed and waited for the doctor. Who, I think was late. So I could hear the nurses and techs talking quietly and Carrie Underwood singing "Jesus Take the Wheel."

I took that as a good sign and resumed my prayer.
Finally the doctor came and they started.
At this point I realized that I had to have my eyes open and see what was happening. As he started I could feel my heart really start pounding
So I start in
"Jesus take the Wheel"
Breathe in Love
Breathe out Anxiety
Breathe in love
Breathe out anxiety.

And I did start to calm down.
Everytime this thought came to me: "They are operating on my EYE!" I would say to myself - breath in love and breathe out anxiety.

But that thought kept coming in.
THEN I heard the doctor saying "They are stuck together. i can't get this."
And I am wondering "What is stuck?" Then I morph into the prayer for him and for the cataract to release - and praying God's guidance on him. And if you could hear this prayer - it was pretty impressive.

Then he tells ME - that they are trying to get the cataract out. And I say "OK" like it is no big deal and resume my praying

Again the thought comes - "They are operating on my EYE!"
But finally he asks for the lens and then it is over.

And the rest is Okay - I get orange juice and a cookie. (cookies are my comfort food) Chuck drives me home as I have a patch on my eye and half my head is pretty numb.

Today I went to the doctor, he took the patch off and there is brightness to my visioin that is new. And I can see twenty twenty out of that eye. Amazing.

Two weeks from now I go through this again. I'm not going to say it is no big deal - but I will say it is worth it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This and That

I came home from Advance Conference last night very tired and very satisfied. The last keynote that we heard was by Amy Gopp who is now the director the Week of Compassion for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is a world traveler with a heart for others and a truly inspiring speaker. she started her talk with this quote:

I felt in need of a great pilgrimage
so I sat for 3 days
And God came to me.

Here are some quotes from her talk on spiritual growth and compared it to growing vegetables and flowers.

"Growth is a process - often not easy or thoughtless"

We need to know what to plant where,when to deadhead and how to week. "New life can't happen until that which is dying is clipped off."

There is such a thing as "root rot" when we water something too much and don't know when to back off.

She told a wonderful story about visiting a woman in Haiti and saying to her "I will pray for you." and then the woman responded: "I will be praying for you because it is far more dangerous to have too much."

"God won't grow your garden for you."

Anyway, I just write all of this because it is ideas that I am still chewing on.


My reading has been consumed by two books and soon I will buy the third. They are "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Girl who played with Fire." These are the books of the summer and I loved them both. The character of Lizbeth is so quirky and the plots are so well constructed that I just have gotten lost in these books. No wonder they are on the best seller list.


I went to the movies tonight and saw "Eat Pray Love." I had read the book and really enjoyed it. Here is what is good about the movie - Julia Roberts is really pretty and so Is Javier Bardem. And actually so are the places that are highlighted - Italy, India, and Indonesia. Much of what made the book interesting was not in the movie - or hinted at. So, not a great movie - but good enough and reminded me of the book and what I liked about it. I would give it 2 stars if you read the book. 1 star if you didn't.

2 weeks left of my sabbatical - I am determined to enjoy every moment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A word about Advance

I am sitting in the office of the Admin building at Camp Christian on the last full day of Advance Conference. Advance is the camp for young adults - ages 19-29 which is a very special camp. Not many churches offer a week like this.

I have been coming here as "faculty" for over 12 years and for the last few serve as "co director" with Allen Harris. The other people who are faculty have really become friends over the year - not to mention Audrey who is here too.

Even though I am on sabbatical this week is part of my summer. It feeds me in so many ways. I really love being with the young adults and learning about their lives. many of them are in transition - from home to schools, from college to grad school, from school to job, from job to 2nd job. So much happens to us in our twenties.

The theme for this week is about our personal relationship with God. Monday Allen and I did a keynote on the roles of God - creator, sustainer, redeemer. My part was to do a "Cosmic Walk" about the universe (creator) and then to teach about how God and LOVE redeems our wounds. Later key notes have been about fear, sin, and "why Jesus" Today Audrey's is about our relationship with God. Following this talk, we meet in small groups and discuss among ourselves. It is so rich and full for me - the talks and the talking! One of the blessings of my long relationship with camp is that I am with young people in their 20's who I remember as 12 year olds! It is all amazing.

Anyway, saying prayers for Audrey today. I love that I get to be with her and see her in this role. She is a wonderful speaker and I know that her keynote will bless me as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

We are home again after a lot of traveling over the past few months. We are home.

Our last trip was the completion of the memory trips for me. At least I think so - I still could go to a few other places I have lived - like Cranford and Madison New Jersey, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Birmingham Michigan, Pittsburgh Pa (don't remember I was 2!) and Salt Lake City - (don't remember I was 3!) Which of course says - that i have lived in a lot of places during my 61 years of life.

And somehow I wonder if all of this has been ruminating on identity and where is home? When people ask me where I am from, I often don't make much of a response. I lived a lot in West Chester Pennsylvania - but graduated from high school in Michigan. My parents retired to the outer banks of NC where they are buried. After 30 years in ohio, maybe I am now from Ohio.

I spent Saturday night in Scranton Pennsylvania where Chris Connor and I lived from 1972-74. It was for us a place of firsts - our first time away from parents, his first REAL CAREER job, and the time when we became parents as Kacey was born in Scranton (is that why she loves "The Office?") I worshipped in the church where she was born - Covenant Presbyterian Church. It was also the first place where I volunteered to work with youth. It seems to be usual for me in these trips - my memory is not real good. I did not remember a whole lot - except that this was such an important time in our lives. Scranton is not the most attractive city in PA - but for us it was very special.

Then I spent three days in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in West Chester PA - The Faunbrook Inn. It was 200 years old and decorated exquisitly and a very special place. Wayne and Gail and Geoff and Vicki joined us in a time of remembering our childhood together. Our parents lived there three times and we journeyed to each house. The first one we were lucky enough to get to go inside and remember much about our life there. We also went to the church where I was so active as a youth and went by the old High School. It was all good.

What these trips have meant for me has been to give me a real sense of gratitude and grace. The gratitude was that I was part of the Gersen family and had parents that really sought to give us the best life they could. In one house it took us a while to determine which were the boys bedrooms and which were the girls. Finally, we realized that our parents had taken the smallest room - which was a pretty good symbol of their understanding of parenting. They taught us a lot about life and love and family and now as I am able to be with my brothers at this juncture - I am grateful for all of it. (but always wishing my sister was here!)

The grace comes when I remember some of the challenging times I had growing up - particularly my junior high years when I felt like an alien in school and with friends. The grace is the healing that happened over the years and the lessons - the compassion - that I learned BECAUSE I was the outsider. There is still much to ponder.

As we left West Chester Gail gave me a gift that was so appropriate. She and Wayne came to us from a Buddhist retreat and the gift she gave was a "beggging bowl" that she had bought there. This is what it says on the outside: "I am home" and "I have arrived."

And so, home has been many, many places for me. But now today I sit at 1812 white pine court and know that I am home. I have arrived.
I am here.
God is here
We are here together.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lily Dale

Yesterday I went to Lily Dale with Chuck and Jim Bane and his wife Holly Harris. It was a great adventure.

Lily Dale is a spiritualist community about 30 minutes from Chautauqua. I recently saw an HBO documentary on it and thought it would be interesting to go and it was.

We got there at 10:30 just in time for the healing service in the "Temple." It was a service that started with a prayer and then 8 men and women dressed in white offered healing to anyone who was there. We went in rows - we were in the very back. Their healing was essentially reikli and it was very similar to what we do at our church and it was very peaceful for me. Jim and Holly also enjoyed it and Holly said that she experienced a healing in her neck pain. We sat during the healing treatments and we had the option to be touched or not. I liked it!

Then we had lunch and went to "Inspiration Stump" to hear some messages from the mediums. Lily Dale is similar to Chautauqua in that there is a gate fee - $10 per person - (Chautauqua's is about $65 per day!) There are 40 registered mediums in the place and you can go to their house and sign up for a reading. I had hoped to have a reading, but I did not want to spend more than $25 - and the ones I saw were $60 or $70. When we went to inspiration stump (which was very similar to the vespers spot at Camp Christian) the mediums would do readings - if the person wanted - from the audience. We got to see 4 mediums and probably 15 readings during the course of the hour. Most of the readings seemed very hit or miss to us. As open as I am to all things spiritual - I have a very strong streak of suspicion and the readings were -in a word - disappointing.

At the same time, you were aware that there were people in the audience who desperately wanted word from someone who had passed "to the other side." So, it was not funny so much as sad for me.

I sat next to a man who told me HE was a medium (but not registered here) who came for the energy that he received in Lily Dale. He described himself as a "medical intuitive" who had been able to identify blood clots and cancer that brought people to the doctor.

All of this is interesting to me - and we enjoyed our time there. We went to the books store and learned that there was a lot of dismay with the community at Lily Dale about the HBO documentary. But, as I told the proprietor of the store - it did bring us there!

Anyway, as always - something to think about.
Just one more interesting experience during this sabbatical summer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I just have a minute to write this because I am on a computer at the library, but i would like to give a flavor of what life is like here at Chautauqua.

This is my 15th year of coming here for a week during the summer and every year I wonder if it is going to be the last - because of the price - but when I get here I wonder how I can ever give this up.

We are staying at the Disciples House on the third floor. We share kitchen and dining room space with others but it is all okay. There is always a real community feel to the life here.

One of the blessings of this week is that Jim Bane and his wife Holly Harris are here. My friendship with Jim goes back to seminary (we both celebrate 25 years since ordination this summer) and we never run out of things to talk about.

This morning I got up took a walk, had breakfast, went to morning worship and then sat on the front porch reading a new book. I have already read three books this week and now am starting "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." There is a lecture right now on education which i am missing. At 12:15 I will meet Chuck in the amphitheatre for a 30 minute organ concert and then we will get on a trolley to go intown (Mayville) to go out to lunch. Often we just grab a sandwich in the kitchen.

I want to be back by 3:30 when I go to a class on "Shame and Hope" taught by a doctor and a psychoanalyst. I have already been to 2 seesions and it is powerful and just absolutely fits into what i have been learning in spiritual direction (plus it will preach!)

Then we will have dinner and go to the ballet.
This is a typical day at Chautauqua - walking, reading, learning, and being with friends.
And did I mention that it is beautiful? To have a week every year when you are in a lace that values intellectual and spiritual growth is a terrific blessing for me.
That's all for now.