Category Archives: Uncategorized

Snail Mail Connections

A couple of weeks ago, we got a card in the mail. It wasn’t addressed to us, but that’s not unusual. We get mail addressed to half a dozen people who lived here before us, mostly junk mail. This looked like a card, a bit late for a Christmas card, but still. And this one not only had the wrong name, it had the wrong address. Wrong street, wrong city, wrong state. In fact, it was even on the wrong coast. The card should have landed in a mailbox in California. The only thing right on the whole envelope was the house number.

The Nancy Drew in me woke up. HOW did this card end up here, in Georgia? Where was it supposed to be? Could I get it there? I quickly discarded any thought of marking it Wrong Address and putting it back in the mail box. Might as well put it in a bottle and throw it in the ocean.

I studied the envelope. The return address was somewhere in France, which made it seem more important to get the card delivered. The name of the street was clearly a mistake – Road Street. I don’t think there are any streets named Road. But – what would the magic of google do for me?

I entered the family’s name, the street address, and zip code – boom. Like magic, there it was. Broad St. Right name, right city, right everything else. Seriously, one wrong letter and the whole thing went astray?

Then I realized the family’s zip code was only one number different from ours. So apparently, the sorting machine (not working as well as the one at Hogwarts) got the zip code wrong and then focused on matching the house number. Very strange. But – now I knew where the letter was supposed to go!! Mystery solved.

So I tucked the card into another envelope, with a note explaining what happened, addressed it correctly, and sent it off. I was very pleased that my sleuthing skills had been put to good use. And I felt like there was a tiny thread of connection, like a spider web, from France to me to California.

About a week later, I got something in the mail – pretty ivory colored card stock, from the family in California. It was a lovely thank you note, which made me smile, and feel like that web of connectedness had just gotten stronger. And that would have been enough. But also in the envelope was this beautiful sheet of stamps, embossed in gold Thank You.

It is such a perfect gift. Now I feel affectionately connected to those people in California. And I’m inspired to write thank you notes to people in my life. I envision taking that thread of connection and throwing it back into the air – ok, attached to an envelope, with a note, to people I love.

Don’t expect your note any time soon. I’ve been known to have that kind of impulse and take years to act on it. But know that the thought is there, the stamps put aside in my secretary, just waiting to be used. Connections, networking out into an intricate web…

My Hospital Stay: Top Five Takeaways

Yes, the last blog post I did was about my hospital phobia. Yes, there’s some irony in me actually ending up in the hospital so quickly after that. And once I realized that I was not actually going to die in the immediate future, I could even appreciate the irony. Fortunately, after the first couple of hours, I was uncomfortable but not in pain. And now that I’m safely at home and fully recovered, I want to share some takeaways.


The Five Worst Things that Happened and What I Learned:

Worst thing #5: Spending 8 hours sitting on a stretcher in the ER hallway waiting for a bed. Stretchers are not comfortable, and it’s just odd to have my doctor and a little crew of residents “examine me” in the hall.

What I learned: Sitting on a stretcher in the ER hallway sucked, but it was interesting and I got to see what the ER was like – at least in that particular 8 hour stretch. It was reassuring. Everyone was masked practically all the time.  The staff were kind and helpful.  I didn’t overhear anybody talking trash about patients.  I had time (lots of time) to develop trust in the staff.


Worst thing #4: Losing my autonomy. I didn’t know what was going to happen, when it would happen, or what it would be like. Everything was on the hospital’s schedule. Honestly, I got real cranky about it.

What I learned: Not having control sucks. But really, it can’t be any other way. Once, someone took my vitals and said, in the kindest tones possible, “Thanks for letting me do that.” Ever a smart ass, I popped back, “Wait – what?? It was optional?” It took her a minute to laugh, but I was amused enough for both of us.. And you know, if I were in control – well, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV. It probably wouldn’t work out that well. Plus, there’s a nurse shortage, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and everyone was doing the best they could. It became a great opportunity to practice finding my zen. The magic of “MyChart” helped too. I could log on to the site and see my test results, what doctor visits to expect, and even the tests that were scheduled.  I got to feel some semblance of self-determination

Worst Thing #3: Not being able to eat anything for a day and a half. I got hungry. I think they might have shorted me on the IV fluids a bit. I mean, maybe not. But I got hungry. And more cranky. When I heard myself whine, “But the doctor saaaaid he was leaving orders for liquids…” I was a bit appalled to realize I sounded just like my grandkids. Or, um, some privileged white woman who’s used to having things her own way. Damn. That’s not my favorite self-image.

What I learned: Every time I thought, “Omg, I’m starving!” the grandmother in me would respond, “How many days can a person live without food?” My daughter learned this valuable fact from some video when she was about 6, and quoted it often as a child. So we both laugh when I say this to my grandkids, and they groan as they say, “21 days,” and I often add, “So you are not actually going to starve, are you?” But I had to laugh at myself every time I thought, “How many days does it take…?” I wanted to groan too. Definitely more opportunity for zen.


Worst Thing #2: Eating the yellow jello. I don’t even like jello, I just ate it because I was excited about food. Then I was taken to an imaging thing where they asked me what I’d eaten – and just because of the stupid yellow jello, (which I don’t even like) they had to postpone the test for a few hours. I fumed. Why was the frigging jello even on my tray?!! I was so outraged and indignant. Now, understand that I have really good self-control. So me being super angry inside might look like annoyance from the outside. But in my mind, I was like the Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland. I wanted to yell, “Off with their heads!”

What I learned: The radiologist and imaging techs apologized profusely, although it wasn’t their fault. I reminded myself that they didn’t make up the rule, and whoever put the jello on my tray didn’t know it would be a problem. I thought, “It would have been better if this hadn’t happened, but it’s probably not the end of the world if I have to wait.” And I sighed. But you see it again, right? That belief that I shouldn’t be inconvenienced. That I should be comfortable and things should go the way I want them to. It was another great opportunity to find my zen. Although. I’ll probably never eat the stupid jello again.


Worst Thing #1 Walking out of my hospital room post discharge, with my daughter, Julia, having decided not to wait for the wheelchair, we passed a small group of residents who began to exclaim, “You’re bleeding!  You’re bleeding!  Go back to your room!!” I suddenly realized that my IV site was bleeding profusely, and I was leaving a trail of blood in my wake.  

What I learned: Julia and I went back to my room and grabbed a towel to soak up the blood. We waited, thinking the doctors were going to send someone to us. But no. We just sat there, in the room that was no longer really mine, while I hoped I didn’t bleed out. Finally, we realized this was not helpful and pushed the call button. Julia said, “Ok, so the doctors don’t really care if you’re bleeding, as long as you do it in your room.” Right? And we both started giggling. The nurse who responded was a tall Black man who said, “What? What happened here?” to which Julia said, “I know, we’re just up here causing a disturbance in your hospital, making a big mess!” and we all cracked up. Turns out that the shot they gave me a couple of hours earlier (in my stomach!) was a blood thinner. So when they removed the IV… yeah. Lots of blood. Cleaned up and with a new, thicker pad of gauze taped on my arm, I waited for the wheelchair this time. (So THIS is why they want to wheel you out.) But Julia and I are still laughing about the gaggle of doctors in the hallway. “Go back to your room,” may be a new forever catch phrase in the family.


This might have been a different story if I’d been in pain, groggy on pain pills, or in there longer than a day and a half. My context is “already super lucky.” Even so, feeling cranky and demanding and angry wasn’t wrong, of course I felt that way. I was just being human, like every one else. It did put a big hole in my delusion of being this totally laid-back, calm and collected person. And that’s ok.

My mother used to say, “We spend the first two years of our life learning that the world revolves around us, and the rest of our lives learning that it doesn’t.” I’m glad I’ve had years of practice at that, or I might actually have been stomping my feet and screaming “Off with their Heads!!” It sure helped me understand how easy it is to get caught up in feeling rage about being cheated, deprived, neglected and overlooked. Even when that’s not actually what’s happening.

Knowing how easy it is to be enraged, my anxiety starts rising. What does this mean for our country? Omg, all those white nationalists out there… this is awful… how can things ever get better?

Then I remember. THIS is why I want everyone to learn mindfulness and emotion regulation, to learn that our thoughts aren’t necessarily facts, and that all feelings are valid but we don’t have to act on them. I don’t have to fix the world, but I need to tend to my own corner of it – starting with myself!

My Hospital Phobia

My friend, Gail, just released a new episode on her podcast, Wildscape. This 5th episode is called “Where’s Beauty.” Gail’s podcasts often speak to me in some deeply personal way, and this one is no exception. She starts with her “hospital phobia,” and those words trigger a rush of affectionate kinship. Hospital phobia? Me too!

She moves beyond that and into the rest of her story pretty quickly, but the thought lingers with me and I find myself ruminating a bit on my own hospital trauma. I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of hospitals, cringe at the thought of visiting someone there, although I do put in an appearance when needed. I used to say that I’d never been hospitalized myself, and that was true – as an adult, I never had been.

I was three when I was hospitalized. I don’t remember it at all, not consciously anyhow, and the stories I’ve heard don’t seem quite real. I had been – not really sick, but tired. My parents were worried; they took me to the doctor. I was still an only child at three, and I can imagine their worry.

The doctor explained that my iron level was low, I had anemia, they were afraid I might have leukemia. I would have to be hospitalized for more tests. Of course my parents agreed, what else would they have done in 1959?

So, the story goes, they took me out for ice cream and explained to me that I would have to go to the hospital. I don’t remember any of this. But I can imagine me enthusiastically eating my ice cream with no real idea of what they were talking about. I do love ice cream, so I guess there isn’t any lingering sense of betrayal connected with that.

Of course, in those days, parents weren’t allowed to stay with their children in the hospital. When they left me there, late that afternoon, my mother says she started to cry. I patted her cheek and told her not to cry, assured her I would be ok.

I guess I was ok. I don’t remember any of it. I was there for several days.- three or four anyhow. I can’t imagine why, when I think about it now. Why would it take that long to do tests? I don’t know. But I was there for several days. I don’t remember it at all, but when I think about being in the hospital, I feel my guts twist, my heart aches, I want to run away.

Parents were allowed to visit once a day. My mother tells me that she and my father were always the first ones in, rushing to my bed. That I was so happy to see them, and so sad when the time was up and they had to leave. I had never been away from them overnight before. She says the nurses would tell her how good I was, how brave. I wonder now what the hell that meant.

The story goes that one time, just as my parents got there, they saw one of my doctors. That was rare, and they stopped him to ask him some questions. Because they had stopped, the other parents had already arrived when mine entered the ward. They hurried to my bed, but instead of greeting them with joy, I was lying curled up on my side and didn’t even lift my head. When they tried to get me to sit up, I said, quietly, barely moving my lips, “I have to lie here.”

A nurse was passing by and saw me, saw them, and stopped. She patted me reassuringly, told me it was ok to get up. To my parents, she explained that when the other parents came in and they weren’t in that first rush, I had started to cry. Sobbing loudly. One of the doctors on his way out had stopped long enough to tell me I’d better be quiet and lie right there if I wanted my parents to come. Apparently, I had taken his words to heart.

I was three. I don’t remember any of that. I did not have leukemia, and whatever was wrong with me, I got better.

I think I had already become a therapist, immersed in trauma work, before it occurred to me that my extreme avoidance of hospitals might be connected to that experience. I could barely stand to visit family or friends, and was pretty sure that made me a terrible person. When I got pregnant, I was delighted that to be able to have a midwife and go to a birthing center, but didn’t quite realize that I was mostly relieved to avoid a hospital.

Listening to my friend Gail’s podcast was actually the first time it occurred to me that hospitals might be redeemable. That they were not necessarily places of terror, pain, and oppression. Ok, I might still think they are, but I can acknowledge that I might be wrong.

Somewhat ironically, a dear friend of mine recently invited me to join them for a meal at a hospital cafeteria, just like Gail’s grandparent. Maybe it would have been a transformative experience, but, unlike Gail, I could not be persuaded. Eat in a hospital??? Omg, no, that’s a hard no, absolutely not. Just no.

It’s interesting watching how the trauma sits with me now, or how I sit with it. My heart aches for that little girl that was me, and I can almost touch her sadness, her terror, feeling abandoned in a strange and scary place for some indefinite time. But when I think about that, I also think about children removed from their parents by Child Protective Services, immigrant children separated at the border, each individual child traumatized in so many ways. And how many of those children won’t be returned to their home, won’t be returned to their parents. Trying to hold all of that is too much, too heavy

So I back off a bit. I notice those feelings and remind myself that most of us have experienced those feelings. “Common humanity.” That’s what we call it in Mindful Self Compassion, knowing that we all have the same feelings, even if we don’t have the same experiences. I remind myself that some children are feeling this with all the intensity right now, and that I’m called – we are all called – to alleviate that suffering as best we can.

That’s at the heart of compassion – knowing that people are suffering, feeling the urge to end the suffering, and then acting on it. We recognize suffering in others because we have felt it ourselves. What each of us chooses to do with that knowing spins together like threads on a loom and creates the world.

Lesson for the Day

Apparently, it’s really helpful for me to start a blog post here and then discover it belongs on my professional blog. That’s kind of cool. I think it takes the pressure off and eases my perfectionism. (Yes, I’m supposed to be a recovering perfectionist, but you know how it is.).

My trip to the beach today sparked the post. Here are a couple of pictures from that. It was lovely. Also, you can see there are no crowds of people there at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

In other news… we’re working on getting our pool usable again. Yes, it would have been nice if we’d done it in the spring. It would have been nice if I hadn’t neglected it in the first place. But we’re getting it done, and that’s what counts. (Yes, this is another anti-perfectionism moment.)

And finally, I stopped at the little fruit market on the way home today. They had tomatoes that look lovely. With tomatoes like these, can BLTs be far behind? No! (I only eat BLTs twice a year, once at the beginning of tomato season and once at the end, so that’s a real treat.). But aren’t they beauties? And they don’t have that greenhouse ripened feel, so they’re going to taste great too. Now all I need is some green beans and maybe little red potatoes… or corn.

Time to Begin Again

It’s been over 2 years since I posted here. I think I’ve completely changed my life since that last post about visiting museums with my sister and brother-in-law. It’s occurred to me that I need a space where I can talk. Just talk about what’s going on with me and how I experience it. Hardly anybody reads me here, and the people who do are friends, so this seems like a good place to do it. At some point, I might make this private with invited readers only.

But for now, I’m just going to leave my thoughts here. Things I might talk about:

  • Surviving the pandemic with my daughter, grandkids, and significant other, Dee.
  • Getting more healthy and fit.
  • Learning how to teach Mindful Self Compassion
  • Building my business as a Trauma Sensitive Consultant and Coach
  • The protests and the need for structural changes to move toward racial equity
  • The adventures Dee and I have riding electric trikes
  • Trips to the beach
  • Who knows what else?

These are not going to be carefully planned and crafted, it’s more like a journal. Just talking about what’s on my mind. Probably short, cause who has time for more? Comments and discussion are welcome.

At the beach with the grandkids yesterday. Expect selfies…

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I wish I could separate this day of thanksgiving from our history of murdering Indigenous People and destroying their culture. I keep trying to figure out how to celebrate all the things I have to be grateful for without dismissing the history around this day. I haven’t quite figured out how to do it, but I think part of it might be holding lots of gratitude for the people who’ve helped me, challenged me, walked with me, and pointed me in a different direction.
I’m not entitled to that help, it’s not owed to me, but I’ve gotten it, from so many people – from family to teachers, clients, clinic escorts, people I used to go to church with, co-workers, people who grow food, prepare it, and serve it, construction workers who build things and mechanics who fix them, and on and on and on. I want to recognize and hold appreciation for all of them, especially today.
I was looking for a picture to post with this, and noticed what interesting ideas we have about being thankful. We tell people they should be grateful because it could be worse, be grateful because it will make you feel better, or be grateful because God likes it. There often feels like an underlying threat to me – be grateful or else… Ooooh like the story of The Wish Fish!
In that old fairytale, a fisherman catches a magical fish who promises to grant his wishes if he will set the fish free. The fisherman and his wife are very poor and so he asks for something simple. The fish happily grants that wish and the fisherman goes home. His wife is appalled that he asked for so little. (The story is sometimes called the Greedy Wife.) She keeps sending him back to ask for more until the fish gets so angry that he takes away all the wishes he’s granted and leaves them just like he found them. Obviously, a cautionary tale about wanting too much, being too demanding, and not appreciating what you have.
Our messages about Thanksgiving often remind me of that story.
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That’s not the stance I want to take. I want to be thankful without threats and thankful without looking for the pay-off.
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And I don’t want to direct the thanks to some supreme being, regardless of whether or not there is one.  If I’m grateful to God for sending me this person or that thing, grateful to God for giving me shelter and food and so on, then it seems like I’m imagining a God who portions these things out. “Here, you can have these supports and these blessings in abundance, but I’m not giving everyone all this stuff. Just the people who deserve it, or just the people who appreciate it,” or whatever rationale you use for God letting people starve to death.
I think that’s how the colonists saw it. “Thank you God for sending us these Indians to help us.” So the Indigenous People were seen as tools God sent to keep the Pilgrims alive rather than wonderful people in their own right who generously helped. Or grudgingly helped. Whatever.
And that kind of thanks is not what I want to do. I want to see the big picture, just for minute – be able to see the overwhelming vast network of people who help make life alll the wonderful things it is. And then to imagine each of those people, with their own lives, their own stories, their own struggles. And for a moment, to be able to hold all of that with appreciation for what it is.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving. ❤

 

 

Day Two: Hidden Horrors

In today’s adventure — we were starting a training. One of the participants had started a fresh pot of coffee. As we were wrapping up introductions, she got a funny look on her face and moved as if she were going to get up. My co-trainer Sarah Cannady said, “Oh, is the coffee ready?”

The participant said, “Nooooo, it’s not the coffee,” and pointed to the floor, at the edge of the room. Suddenly, people in that area were jumping up and moving away, just like in a horror movie, and all I could think was, “Omg, it’s a really big bug, or a mouse – I should run!” But nope, it was neither of those things.

It was a snake. Which was a great relief to me, but sent several people scrambling to get out of the room as quickly as they could. One brave soul trapped it with a garbage can while we waited for help. Fortunately, someone from the Environmental Protection agency was passing by and, unperturbed by the scary snakiness, she removed him from the room.

 

 

Whew! We didn’t really need coffee after all that excitement!!

In other news, the ferry I was supposed to catch in the morning has been cancelled due to mechanical repairs. I had to choose between a later ferry or driving around to a different ferry. I’m going to drive. It will take longer, but I can leave earlier and get there earlier, and I’m sure it will be interesting.

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The blue line is the way I was going to go. The grey line is the new route. It includes a ferry ride, but much more driving.

 

 

Day One: The Lake

So I had gone to the grocery with the intention of having crackers and cheese and fruit for dinner. However, the B&B woman’s husband was telling me about how to get to this one restaurant with wonderful food. He was promoting the fried chicken special, which is made with lard and therefore delicious. That didn’t really appeal to me (sorry, I grew up with olive oil, not lard.) But then he showed me how to get there, which involved driving over this HUGE lake – Lake Mattamuskeet.

So I went for the lake, but stayed for dinner.

The lake went on for miles. I took a couple of pictures on the way down – notice the very cool bird in the first picture! You do literally just drive through the middle of the lake.

The restaurant had some of the most delicious grilled trout I ever had. Potatoes au gratin and baked apples on the side. One piece of cornbread and one beaten biscuit, which I had with the apples for dessert.

Driving back home, the light was lovely and the lake was even more picturesque. Stopped to walk out on a little fishing pier and noticed a couple of men fishing on the other side of the road. I considered the possibility that they were poaching or doing something illegal and would have to kill me, thereby making all of this just an intro to a terrific murder mystery.

But, as you can see, either they weren’t doing anything illegal or they realized I was too ignorant to know what they were doing, so they didn’t have to kill me (Yes, I really have these thoughts.) We chatted for a few minutes, as they came over to my side of the road and were casting their net in the water. They caught a few fish immediately that were looking pretty big to me, but they seemed disappointed. Then I was able to drive on back to my lovely B&B.

With Appreciation

The last couple of trips my partner, Dee, and I have taken to Mexico, he’s been having some issues with mobility, so we’ve needed a wheelchair to get from one flight to the next.  It’s been awkward and odd and amazing.

Overwhelmingly, I am grateful that airports have a system designed to allow us to travel.  I had no idea.  When we ask for a wheelchair, a staff person is assigned to push it.  That person may go with us to pick up luggage and take it though customs, walk us through immigration and document checks, and go through security.  They may be with us for 15 minutes or for hours.

It’s no longer just me and Dee traveling, we’re a little parade.  Dee and the wheelchair and the staff person, me, and often a second staff person with the luggage.  There are some benefits.  We breeze through immigration and customs now.  No waiting in line for security.

The staff people are invariably nice and helpful.   In Mexico City, they don’t always speak any English, which matches our lack of Spanish speaking skill, but Dee makes an effort to communicate and they do too and it all works out.

Well, that one time when we wandered around the airport for about 3 hours trying to find our luggage and figure out what we were supposed to do to get a flight the next day was not so much fun.  Our person kept stopping to ask different people for advice, they would speak rapidly in Spanish, with some gesticulating, and I wasn’t sure what he was even asking, much less what they were saying.  Then he would be back, taking the wheelchair in hand, heading off in some direction, and all I could do was follow him.  At one point, he gestured to me that I had to go through some security check – I didn’t know why, but the security guy spoke a little English, and he explained that they needed me to look for our luggage.  So I headed back into some baggage area, while our guy and Dee headed off in the opposite direction to “los banos,” and I did wonder what would happen if I came back and they were just gone.

What would I do then?

But they were there when I came back, and I had the luggage too, so it was all good.

We had a young woman in Charlotte who was warm and reassuring.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “You’ve got plenty of time to make the next flight,” and of course she was right.  In Charlotte, their system involved her getting us to the right cart, which then carried us on to the right gate, where they had a wheelchair to get us to the door of the aircraft.  The young woman and I chatted for a minute or two – she’s just working at this until she can get a job with one of the airlines, and then she’ll be able to travel.  She was telling me about the many places she wants to go, and I hope she gets to do that.

I’ve begun to see the networks of people who staff the airports and the way they relate to each other.  Sometimes, our person – our helper? I don’t know what the right term is – but sometimes they’re really outgoing, flirting and joking with everyone along the way.  Sometimes they’re more quiet, but alway helpful and kind.

Yesterday, we left Mexico City, landed in Dallas, headed for home.  The wheelchair attendant (there, does that sound better?) is a soft-spoken woman, wearing a burkha.  Her name tag reads “Ayisha.”   She is pleased to hear we have three hours between flights, “Plenty of time,” she says, “No need to hurry.”

She directs us.  “You’ll need your passport and boarding pass,” or “show him this form with your passport,” telling me, “follow me,” or “you go ahead.”  We move a bit more smoothly than usual.

We are delayed at security.  “Only two wheelchairs can go at a time,” she says,  “so we just wait.  Sometimes, people get so upset, but it’s ok, there’s lots of time.”

We get to customs, and she helps us scan our passports, answer the appropriate questions (no, we have not visited a farm) and get our pictures taken.  With our printouts in hand, we are heading on, when a male voice behind us says, “Ayisha, help her with this!”

She turns, I turns – Dee is up ahead just a bit – and there’s an older woman in a wheelchair in front of the machine, passport in hand, saying querulously, “I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how.”

Ayisha says to the man staffing the wheelchair, “You can help her,” but he turns his head away, and the woman in the chair says again, “I don’t know how to do this.”

I think Ayisha is going to say something sharp to the man, I think she starts to, or maybe I just want her to, but she doesn’t.  Instead she takes the woman’s passport and shows her how to insert it to start the process.  She gently and kindly walks her through the couple of minutes it takes to complete it.  Then, without waiting for thanks, she turns and we move on.

“Why didn’t he help her?”  I ask.

“Oh, he’s very  – busy,” she says, in a tone that I think means he thinks he’s too important to do that.

“But – he was right there, he could have helped her,” I say.

“Yes,” she agrees, “He could have,” and she says it in a tone that allows me to let go of my own frustration at what seems like him being unreasonable.

We pick up our luggage – two bags, about 40 pounds each – and Ayisha stacks them on a cart.  She takes the wheelchair with one hand, the cart with the other, and starts off.  “Oh, I can help with that,” I say, meaning the luggage, but she laughs.  “I’ve got it,” she says.

I’m a bit awed.  Often the wheelchair person will take one bag and ask me to push the other – which is fine if we aren’t going miles.  And sometimes they’ll recruit a second person to help.  But she’s handling both wheelchair and baggage as if it’s nothing.  “I’ve been doing this job for 15 years.  Sometimes,” she says, “I push two wheelchairs.”

She hands the luggage off again effortlessly.

We’re about to get on an elevator – there’s a couple standing there with a full cart of luggage, about to go up.  Ayisha says, “Are you going to check your luggage?”  They shake their heads no.  “Are you looking for a taxi?”  Nods this time.  “You need to go that way,” she says, pointing.  Off the elevator they come, heading down the hall in the right direction.

“How did you know they were going the wrong way?”

She shakes her head, “Easy, you don’t need to go up with luggage.  You either go that way to check in baggage, or the other way to go out.  You don’t go up.”

We are pre-TSA, but are delayed while they check Dee’s hands for evidence of explosives and pat him down from head to toe.  “He is new,” Ayisha says, talking about the security guy.  “He doesn’t have to do all that, he was pre-TSA, but that guy, he’s new, new ones, they always do too much.”

She delivers us to an electric cart, “You stay with this cart,” she says, “Don’t  take any other one, this one take you all the way to your gate.”  I assure her we will, and thank her profusely, as she sends us off with a smile and a wave.

I hate for Dee that he’s had to use a wheelchair.  I would not have chosen this experience for either of us.  But I am left with such lovely images of the network of people who make it possible for us to travel.  So many times, I’ve seen wheelchairs at the end of the ramp as I exit the plane, without giving them another thought.  Now I feel connected to the people who do that work day after day.   And to Ayisha, who did it with such warmth, dignity, and grace.

 

 

Kim Davis: Is she acting as a “Lesser Magistrate?”

I’ve read lots of articles about Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Ky and her defiance of the marriage equality law.  Living in Kentucky, it’s particularly interesting to me.   But I haven’t seen anyone in the mainstream talking specifically about the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate and whether that doctrine applies to the stand Kim Davis has taken.

According to Wikipedia, the doctrine of the lesser magistrate dates back to the time of John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.  Simply put, it states that if the government is wrong, individuals still have to follow the laws, but magistrates – people in public office – have a right and a duty to stand up against the laws.  Which makes sense.  They have a duty to defend their people from tyrants.  But ~

Fast forward to 2013 and Matthew Trewhella, author of The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, available here on Amazon.  {No, I’m not suggesting you buy it, but I’d rather you check it out on Amazon than on his website…}  Trewhella says:

“America has entered troubling times. The rule of law is crumbling. The massive expansion of Federal government power with its destructive laws and policies is of grave concern to many. But what can be done to quell the abuse of power by civil authority? Are unjust or immoral actions by the government simply to be accepted and their lawless commands obeyed? How do we know when the government has acted tyrannically? Which actions constitute proper and legitimate resistance? This book places in your hands a hopeful blueprint for freedom. Appealing to history and the Word of God, Pastor Matthew Trewhella answers these questions and shows how Americans can successfully resist the Federal government’s attempts to trample our Constitution, assault our liberty, and impugn the law of God. The doctrine of the lesser magistrates declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.”

Then I found this website, that blogs about the doctrine of the lesser magistrate.  They are thrilled with Kim Davis.  According to them,   “What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.”

If she, and others who resist issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, are following the doctrine, then they don’t actually want the state to find ways to accommodate their religious beliefs.  Their goal is to keep the state from issuing licenses – from acting in ways that their religion deems immoral.  As the blogger says:

“The clerks (and others) do not want to have to lay their hand to this great evil (by issuing marriage licenses), but then promote a change in state law so that people can still do the evil – just not through them. This is not true interposition.”

The blog then goes on to complain that the clerks “seem to be taking some bad advice from politicians and lawyers.”  I agree with them, but not the way they mean it.  They’re critical because it looks like they might settle for having a new system that would issue the licenses without them.  “True interposition” doesn’t work like that.  According to the website:

When standing in interposition against wickedness, lesser magistrates – like county clerks, judges, or legislators – should understand that their primary duty is to protect those who reside in their jurisdiction against the aggression of the tyrant – not to protect themselves.

Not only does the interposition of the lesser magistrates protect the people in the jurisdiction of their office against evil – but it also abates the just judgment of God.

Kim Davis (and others) are attempting to stand in the gap. Their fealty to the Lord does not allow them to join the higher authorities in their rebellion against God. But, it is all an utter failure if they proffer actions to see the evil accomplished another way (via a website at the statehouse). It is not true interposition.

So don’t be confused by discussions about religious freedom.  This is not about an individual’s right to act in accordance with her conscience.  It’s not about the need to make accommodations.   The intent is to stop the government from acting in ways that are against her religious beliefs.

No, she can’t win this battle.  In my worst fantasy, her attorney is encouraging her to see herself as the first of the Lesser Magistrates to stand up to the immoral, tyrannical government.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe he’s not helping her envision herself as – oh good grief, yes, seriously, the Rosa Parks of her time.  I think he is.  The website, after a lot of talk about why the Supreme Court can’t “make laws,” says:

What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about interposition, it is about honoring Christ, it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon all other magistrates – sheriffs, district attorneys, judges from all spheres of government, and legislators from all spheres of government – to rally around Kim Davis, interpose on her behalf, and defy a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon the people to rally around Kim Davis and assure her of their support – with their persons, with their finances, with their prayers. They must also prod their state and federal magistrates to interpose on her behalf and defy the lawlessness of the federal judiciary.

So don’t be surprised when Kim Davis goes back to jail.  Don’t shake your head and say, “WHAT does she want?”  She wants to lead the lesser magistrates into battle to defy the Supreme Court.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

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