Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Grace of Hope: More

Yesterday was my third session with Dr. O. So far what she's given me is hope--again.

I tend to high drama in my life. I'm as melodramatic as they come, back of my trembling hand pressed to my pale forehead, dewy with moisture, as I swan around the room declaiming, "O, woe is me!" before I theatrically fling myself onto the red velvet chaise lounge in a fit of the vapors. (It's no surprise my dream job would be that of a public speaker. I'm an incurable ham: An exhibititionist and craver of public notice.)

In the face of some overwhelming personal situations, hope is back. For a day, a week, or five minutes, I don't know. I know I can't leash him and I can't promise myself he'll always be there. (Or her. Hmmmm. Not sure if hope should be masculine or feminine.) I can't make another one and I can't get another one at the store. I've got one and only one.

Sometimes I'm afraid he'll be gone again when I look for him. I can't pretend he's in another room, just out of sight. I don't have the strength to pretend I can live without him. There's nothing for me to do when he's gone but cry out to God, praying, crying, begging for Him to restore hope to me.

The worst part is even when God answers prayer, He takes his own damn time about it. He's never answered my prayers instantly and as best I can recall, only done so quickly two or three times.

God is like maple syrup: Richly colored, golden with inner light, sweet, and slow as hell.

Okay, my time's up, I have to go. I'll continue later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Grace of Hope

"I decided to practice radical hope" writes Anne Lamott in her exceptional book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

Hope. Thesaurus.com offers anticipation, buoyancy, confidence, enthusiasm, euphoria, expectancy, hopefulness, optimism, reliance, sanguinity as synonyms for hope.

In my life hope has been AWOL for a while. Years. Apparently one night it climbed the fence and disappeared down the road, like a dog who's finally had enough. Hope's older, fatter, slower brother Duty stuck around. The magic of the food bowl, I guess.

In the absence of hope I made do with duty. O, he's a good boy and he helps out a lot. If hope's gone, duty will carry you through a lot of situations. Now don't get me wrong; hope reappeared briefly from time to time, enough to decimate the kibble bag and hump my leg before he made his escape again and galloped off to enjoy whatever in his life pulled at him.

Then...something happened about two weeks ago.

Hope came back and he stuck around for awhile. He didn't move in, true, he never staked out a spot on the rag rug in the kitchen, but he stayed for longer than he ever has before.

Also, two weeks ago I started seeing a counselor once a week: Dr. O.

More in a bit...

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Grace of Five Minutes

In early 2001, I was diagnosed with CHF: Congestive Heart Failure. My heart is weakened and enlarged, so it pumps blood less efficiently. That means I have less energy, less oxygen in my blood, and my body retains fluid in my legs easily.

As a consequence of the latter, I can't spend a lot of time sitting down without my feet and ankles swelling from fluid buildup, called "edema." This edema damages my skin, is a breeding ground for bacteria, and puts extra pressure on the veisn in my legs. Bad news all around.

My computer time has been drastically cut short.

Now I give myself five minutes to say here what I'm going to say, then I have to get up and move or lie down.

So I have five minutes of grace.

Okay, time's up. I will continue this in a few hours. I'm off to the gym to swim and walk in the pool.