By now most of you are coming to the end of a very unusual semester. Maybe you’re mourning the loss of the end of the school year rituals: honors day, baccalaureate, graduation, and goodbye parties. Maybe you’re mourning a beginning cut short, and you missed out on what everyone else got to experience. There is enough uncertainty and frustration to go around in a world with a very large number of challenges. What is one to do?
In her book, With the End in Mind, palliative care physician Kathryn Mannix writes about an experience with a thirty-something patient named Veronica. Veronica is one of those people Mannix describes as “not just beautiful, she is stunning.” Walking into her clinic in tight jeans, high heels, impeccable make-up and long, dark hair, she’s come because she’s experiencing pain in her pelvis. It’s cancer. Her kidneys are beginning to struggle because of a mass of cancer. She struggles to remove the jeans, and struggles, painfully, even more to put them back on. Dr. Mannix presents a plan to help her feel more comfortable and cautiously suggests that the tightness of the pants presents pressure on the nerves. She might be more comfortable, and feel less pain, with less constricting pants.
That’s when the dam bursts; Veronica starts to cry. Those pants, her look, is all she has left. To admit the loss of that is to give up any control; it means she has to name death, a death that is imminent. “If I let one thing change, then I might lose control of everything,” she says. Our experience is important, as is the opportunity to find help and assistance to see what we can’t see, can’t name, can’t acknowledge. All of us have methods of coping, but are they coping to cover up what we can’t admit because we fear we’ll lose control, or are they coping skills to help us look beyond the now?
Understanding the problem is one thing, but recognizing and accepting the limits of what you can and can’t do to address it is another. Education is important, and the realization of what gifts and opportunities are available to you is another. Coming to understand opportunities and limits is one of the great challenges of life, and it takes a lifetime to grow into them. And it’s not easy. As the weird school year ends, it will present us with time and space to examine our lives without the distraction of school work. As some things change, we’ll confront other things we can’t control, and that is a powerful life lesson. Be gentle on yourselves at this time, allow yourself a time of bereavement, and look to people who can support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Each Tuesday at 6 pm and Thursday (now) at 6 pm you can join us on Zoom to share, to talk, to connect, and to name our lack of control and our power to live together.
Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom
Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Thursday Theology & Pop Culture on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us as we explore our faith through movies and TV shows. This week Thomas will lead the discussion, and you are invited to watch “Sold Under Sin” from Deadwood (S1:E12). It is available on Amazon Prime or HBO.
Sunday Evening Prayer on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.