Friday, March 31, 2006

Sophie Scholl

Teresa and I walked down to Shattuck Theater and watched Sophie Scholl this afternoon. This movie is incredibly powerful. Just go to the website and you will see what I mean. It is the true story of college co-ed in Nazi German whose non-violent resistance led to her death. The way she died, changed people’s lives.

This film is made possible because of transcripts of the Gestapo interrogations, which were hidden in East Germany, were released in 1990. The producers of the film spent hours interviewing people were close to the people involved with this case – family members, friends. The skill and diligence of the research is very evident. And the actors – what fine, fine actors!

Yes this is a must see film, on par with Schindler's list. For you Boiseans, it will be playing at the Flicks starting April 28th.

It is a timely film, especially for our country today. We have an administration that lies through its teeth and is more secretive than any administration in recent memory. We have an administration that thinks it is above the law. We have an administration the deliberately exports fear for its own ends. It exploits racism to its own ends. What do you think this immigration thing is all about? It is about fear and blatant racism. I can only hope that enough fair minded people will appalled by the racist propaganda of the neo-cons to turn them out on their heads in the November elections. If not, well, we get the leaders we deserve.

"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. . . Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!" -- First leaflet of the White Rose

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Climbing out of the valley of fatigue

Had a good day today. Teresa and I walked 20 minutes down to the Shattuck theater and watched Transamerica – indeed a great movie. Then we walked back home, an uphill walk and I did fine. Pretty exciting stuff as I know I could not have done that two days ago. I’ve learned from this is I can recover well when I listen to my body, rest and do exercise to tolerance. Saturday I pushed myself going to the James Finley workshop so needed lots of rest Sunday and Monday, which I got. I am so grateful for this day and the strength that is returning.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Down into the valley of fatigue

This time the chemo has hit me harder on the fatigue side of things. Some of this might be because the prednisone dose has been dropped 20 mg. to 40 mg and I’m feeling the fatigue more. The good news is I’m sleeping more. So thanks be to God its spring break and I am getting lots of rest and am able to catch up on sleep. In the long term this is a good thing. As energy and strength return, there will be more blogging. Got some things I want to commit on. In the meantime Rest!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Second round of Chemo tomorrow

Tomorrow I have my second round of chemo. Today I’m feeling pretty good, relatively speaking. I feel stronger, though I still get short of breathe easier than what I did before chemo. I’ve been able to workout logistics so that I can get the Cal Rec gym and do weights. Over the past week I’ve made some gains in muscle strength. One of the good things about working with weights is you can easily track progress. So I’m pleased that the muscle weakness is being reversed.

I will drop my prednisone dose 20 mg to 40 mg per day. Hopefully that will result in me getting a little more sleep. I’m not like really sleepy during the day – though sometimes I do feel that during class. I do lie down a couple times during the day and that helps. My mental processes seem to be doing Ok so I can continue to hang with this treatment.

I’m hoping that since I’m coming into this second round feeling pretty good, I won’t descend in the valley of fatigue for very long. I plan to rest, rest, rest this weekend and eat good food. I’ve learned a lot this month about dealing the fatigue and conserving energy so my hope is that this month will go well.

I look on this as a grand experiment. I not completely sure what will happen has I continue in treatment. There is an expected course but in medicine unexpected things can and do happen, both positive and ill. I have a healthy curiosity about what happens next, how this will go. My sense is that it will go fine. If not, I can deal with that, make adjustments and go on.

I do believe all the prayers for me are helping in wonderful ways. Tomorrow as I receive the chemo I will also take in all that wonder pray power. That thought alone keeps me positive – a very good thing! Thank you to all who are praying for me. To God be the Glory!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Scripture and Errors

Reflecting this morning on the experience of the studying deeply the four gospels over the past several weeks in New Testament class. Thinking about how each gospel tells the unique story of a community’s struggle to come to terms the challenges facing them in the lived context of their lives, struggling to come to terms with the presence of the Risen Christ in their midst, ever elusive, enigmatic, yet ever in your face, now we glimpse him, now we don’t.

Mark’s gospel – a call to return to God’s covenant, to care for one another as God care for us – a call to throw off Roman oppression by trust in God, opting out of the oppressive economic and political system of the Roman’s and the Temple – a plea to not seek a military solution, to seek a military Son of David to save them – a plea that went unheeded and Jerusalem was destroyed.

Matthew’s gospel – Reclaim your Jewish Roots! Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. Build a fence around Torah by loving more than the Torah requires.

Luke’s Gospel – inclusive table fellowship – extend the banquet of God, the feast of God to all people. Exclude no one.

John’s Gospel – Ah, here is a struggle! John’s community, their experience of Jesus as Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Logos, that very high Christology, well, it’s not been so well received by some of their Jewish brethren. They aren’t listening to us, this community cries. They don’t believe the signs Jesus himself show us and them. We need to separate ourselves, set ourselves apart until they come to their senses.

Each Gospel has a unique story to tell, lesson to learn and live. Some of those lessons are about how the community got it wrong. God in Her wisdom does not dictate the truth to us. She wants us to develop our minds, hearts and spirits – to think – to love God with our whole minds, to learn to discern what is life giving from that which brings death. So God, in Her wisdom has allowed Scripture to come to us imperfect, with errors, so that we may not worship the words of the text, but listen to the Living Word speaking through the text. “See, my child, John didn’t quite get it right here, but here, yes, he got it right. Now let me take you deeper into the meaning of these words.”

Now in New Testament we will get into the mind of Paul. I look forward to learning more about Paul and his struggles. Paul is another person who got some things very right – 1 Corinthians 13 and some things quite wrong – 1 Corinthians 14:34, for example.

I truly believe that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16, but not in the way many Christians think. I’m not saying the God inspired errors in Scripture. When God inspired humans to write Scripture, God is did not violate our free will, our humanness, our finite knowledge of God. So we fallible humans misunderstand what God was trying to say at times. And that’s OK because the Spirit is ever with us to guide us, if we slow down, be still and admit we don’t comprehend God perfectly, if we are humble and admit we do make mistakes, correct them and move on in the joy and love of God.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Looks like my blog is getting hit by spammers - those two comments on March 15th that had nothing to do with my blog. I'm going to start monitoring the comments so your comments may not show up right away. I'm probably going to have a bit of a learning curve to get this tweaked right so please bear with me. Thanks

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Blessed Day

Tilden Park

I am so blessed. Even in my infirmity I am blessed. Had beautiful walk in Tilden Park. Everyone I met on the trail was smiling. The sky was smiling, the clouds, the trees. Nature rejoicing in the glory of her Creator.

I’m listening to the music CD for the Book of Uncommon Prayer. It’s an incredible CD. Gotta read the book.

Good appointments with my docs yesterday. Kidney function is good. Cell counts did not drop but improved after this first treatment. I’m ready for the next round.

Aye, I am blessed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rejoice with me

I slept last night. Good sleep from 9 to 5. No classes today so will take more opportunity for rest. Another good thing – If my body is too tired to even sit up at my workstation and work, I can unhook my lap top, get comfy on the couch, my body fully supported and can continue working with less expenditure of energy. I love my lap top. If you are interested, it’s a Dell Inspiron 600M. I’ve notice that Star Gate SG-1 and Star Gate Atlantis are using Dell laptops on their sets. – Ah the joy of product placement!

Also, I know, in my heart and body that all your prayers are helping. They help my spirits when I feel discouraged or worried about how bad this may get when I feel weaker. I believe they are helping when I feel better and I’ve done nothing different. I think they work along with the physical interventions I and my docs are doing to bring healing. Thank-you. You are making a difference in my life.

Went to a very intellectually stimulating lecture on Thomas Aquinas titled “Language Without Reduction - Aquinas on the Linguistic Turns” I’m sure these last sentence solidifies my status as a church geek! :-) The presenter was Fr. Anselm Ramelow, OP (Dominican Priest – Order of Preachers), a German theologian. I was very pleased I could hang with him and his argument, given my knowledge of Aquinas has come in dribs and drabs through the years. I have an interest in language and as a software engineer I was working with very real languages so I could relate to how he was teaching on that level.

What was exciting to me is that in my liturgy class that afternoon, Rev. Professor Louis Weil talked about the problem in our culture where we have lost the idea and understanding of symbol. In many ways we are on one hand very literal in our use of words and on the other hand very cynical in regards to use of words. Ours is a spin culture now. Our leaders speak words to conceal their true intent. They call evil good and good evil. This is a tragic sickness that impedes the communication of truth, love and spiritual wisdom.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eucharist and Infirmity

One of the difficulties I'm experiencing with my treatment regimen is waking up after four or 5 hours of sleep and not being able to return to sleep. I chalk this up to the effects of my high-dose prednisone. I do take a sleeping pill from time to time, but it's not totally effective.

One of the ways to cope with that is to meditate in bed, using various meditation techniques I know. I will start with centering prayer, and then if I don't fall to sleep I use various meditation tapes to enter a deep state of rest. I don't sleep, but at least I'm resting and have energy when I get up in the morning.

Other times like this morning, I find myself thinking, or perhaps anxious. If I sense I have the energy to deal with the task that is calling me, then I will get up. I have been thinking about Eucharist and its meaning to me, especially in relationship with my present illness.

To me the bread on the altar is not just bread that will become Christ's own body. It is also my body there on the altar, along with everyone else body. Indeed the whole world's there. But I digress. I am there on that shelter offering my body in union with Christ. When the body of Christ is broken at the fraction rite, so is my body broken to become bread for the world.

And yes my body is a broken body. I have kidney disease. My kidneys are inflamed too. They are not filtering proteins. My body is weakening and is fatigued. My immune system is out of whack, and it's attacking parts of my body. Yet has my body becomes the body of Christ in holy Eucharist and I receive from Christ in the person of the Eucharistic minister; His own body, the bread of heaven, in that moment, at a real and mysterious level, I receive healing, and the whole world receives healing with me.

I believe that all infirm persons who choose to enter into this healing process at a deep spiritual level, participate in the healing the world. The world is being saved through sick people. God chooses the things that are not to confound the things that are.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

I recall again the words of that honest bigot in Angels in America, Roy Cohn.” The worst thing about being sick in America, Ethel, is you are booted out of the parade. Americans have no use for the sick. .It’s just no country for the infirm.”

Roy is oh so right. Yet my heart responds, the infirmed have a place in the Body of Christ. We are at the front of the parade. God has a plan, a purpose, a use if you will, for us.

One of my heroes in this strange place of odd-duckednss call CDSP is Will Hocker. He is a third year seminary with full blown AIDS. He preached a powerful sermon on healing in chapel on Advent. I commend it to you for your own reflections this Lent.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Webcams and Med Update

Rainy morning in Berkeley but blue skies coming.

There is a wonderful webcam on top the Berkeley ridge that lets me know what weather is coming. It’s the San Francisco Bay View from Lawrence Hall of Science link in the sidebar to the right. I’ve posted my favorite webcams there for your own enjoyment.

Healthwise, I am really dealing with increased fatigues, increase shortness of breath and decrease muscle strength. The 47 stair steps to the chapel are getting more daunting. I’m trying to think of workarounds for that. Yes, I can pray at home, and I do, but I like going to chapel, to pray with my community.

I take the increase weakness, fatigue to be due to the effect of the chemo on my bone marrow, meaning I have fewer red blood cells to get oxygen to my tissues. Also I’m high dose prednisone which can cause muscle wasting. For one who likes to exercise, be strong and healthy – aye it is distressing. I grieve my loss. Yet I approach this like a rehab nurse, one of my previous nursing practices. I try to do as much as I can within the limits of my infirmity. Yes there are things I can’t do right now, like hiking high in the Berkeley hills, but there are others things I can do. I can still walk and enjoy the little walks I can take.

When I was hospitalized for a month two years ago, I came home very debilitated. I came back from that. When I get off this prednisone, I will rebuild this body again and continue in the Lord’s work. I take comfort in that.

In the mean time I had labs drawn Friday that might shed light on the exact cause of my fatigue. I see my nephrologist on St. Paddy’s day and we will discuss any treatment options that might help with the fatigue. I’ll keep you all posted.

Peace and blessings during this Holy Lent

Sunday, March 05, 2006

el Tren de la Muerte (The Train of Death)

I was pawing through today's
San Francisco Chronicle when I came to the Book Review section. There was a headline that gripped me, "A child's nightmare ride". This picture broke my heart and felt me crying at the breakfast table.

Enrique’s Journey, The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother by Sonia Nazario -- well, doesn't the title say everything, unless you are not aware of the reality of Latina Mothers who come to our rich country, who work in menial jobs, to send money back so their children may live? Our economic policies perpetuate this terrible reality. Read the review. Get the book. It is true.

Perhaps this review hit me hard because I too am now far away from my mother and I miss her. I can understand why young children would undertake an impossible journey on the chance they could find their mothers. Oh how their mother's must worry about them!

Perhaps it grabbed me because of a Latina woman I met standing in line at the Kaiser pharmacy. She is a young mother, a grad student and very anxious that she was missing class because of the long line we were both caught in. She also works for an agency that helps Latinos and Latinas who end up of the Bay Area, looking for work. Many now come from Central America. Some don't even speak Spanish, but speak their native Mayan. I sense that Enrique's Journey is lived by many people in the Bay Area, my home state of Idaho and all over the U. S.

I celebrate Lent, face fully Lent, because of stories like these. I am a woman of unclean lips who lives among a people of unclean lips.

God spoke through his prophet Amos to the rich in Israel,

"I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house;
and the houses of ivory shall perish,
and the great houses shall come to an end,
says the Lord.

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan
who are on Mount Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
who say to their husbands, ‘Bring something to drink!’
The Lord God has sworn by his holiness:
The time is surely coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
even the last of you with fish-hooks.
Through breaches in the wall you shall leave,
each one straight ahead;

and you shall be flung out into Harmon,
says the Lord. " Amos 3:15 - 4:3

Yes, this was a time long ago but the situation is so damn similar to us here in the USA today.

What to do.

First, ask God what is your part in bring justice to the poor. Then listen. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your ears. Listen with your heart. Listen with your mind.

God's promise:
"I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you." Psalm 32:8-9

God gave us minds to think with, hearts to feel with, eyes to see with, ears to hear with. Use them.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Wall

Rain pours down outside, pounding the street, the roof. The predicted storm has come.. It is almost comforting to hear that rain. It came, it will endure and it will pass away. There will be beautiful clearing. The Bay Area is so beautiful after a rain. The air is crystal clear, fresh, invigorating. Everything has an exquisite sharpness to it, an aliveness.

I need these thoughts this night. Yesterday I hit The Wall. Hmmm. I’d rather call it “a wall”. "The Wall" sounds too permanent. It gives it too much power. Yesterday started at 2:30 A.M. with nervous energy, prednisone energy. I’m on high dose of prednisone now. In the past when I’ve been on high dose prednisone I didn’t sleep well, had this nervous, sometimes hyper energy. I’ve been looking for that since I started the high dose last Thursday, trying to be aware of the prednisone’s affect in my body without inducing the placebo effect.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were relatively good days for me, with recovering energy. I started thinking, “Gee, if this is all there is to this Chemo, I’ll be fine.” I felt some trepidation though at what the coming nadir of the chemo therapy would be like. Nadir means lowest point and in terms of Chemo Therapy, the point of greatest impact on the bone marrow. From the bone marrow's point of view, it’s point of lowest production of blood cells. Bone marrow is a marvelous organ that makes our red and white blood cells. That’s where they come from baby.

The Oncology Nurse told me the nadir would be in seven days. So I will have decreasing cell counts until Thursday afternoon or so. That will make me more prone to infection and increasing fatigue. How much depends on my body’s response to the medication.

Yesterday I could feel increase weakness, fatigue coming on. By afternoon my legs were telling me they just could not walk much anymore, too tired. I knew I would need to miss Evening Prayer in the Chapel. That was a bummer. I enjoy worshiping with my fellow seminarians. I enjoy hearing the Word of God proclaimed. I enjoy the prayers and times we sing. But that takes energy. The walk up those stairs takes energy. Sometime I can manage it and sometimes not. Wednesday afternoon those stairs loomed in mind like a great barrier and I knew it was not in my body to surmount them. I was so bummed.

Rested as I could last evening. Went to bed early. Had an awful dream. A bee was attacking me. I was trying to get someplace in Boise and the thing I was on – sometimes a car, sometimes a motorcycle, sometimes a bicycle – had a flat tire. The darn bee was keeping me from fixing the tire. It kept attacking me and I would whack back at it and it would sting me. It had the most exquisite deep, bright blue wings or some part of its body though. Its color intrigued me.

Ok, you guys who do dream work. What do you think?

I’m too tired to think now. I’m winding down and will head back to bed. I did read some of Alicia Parlette’s last journal entry. I have her link on the side bar -- Alicia's Story - Cancer, Despair, Hope and Faith. In this entry she talks about her fatigue. I could really relate to her experience of planning an outing and then not having the energy to do all the plans. It was a comfort to me to read her story. I’m not the only one dealing with fatigue and frustrated plans. Alicia keeps going though, doing what she can, finding the real beauty in life that really, really is there, whatever our state of life. She is honest about her frustration, pain and courage. Such is the path that I too try to walk.