Yesterday, I woke up with an irritation in my left eye. It felt like a grain of sand or a loose eyelash, slightly painful, but distracting. I doused my eye all day with eye drops, saline and artificial tears.
I woke up this morning and it was worse, "wattery" and red, and painful. So I decided to go to a local emergency room. It was early and Davide still needed to take Dino (our dog) outside, etc. and I could drive, so I took my little car up to Good Samaritan (our local Episcopal hospital) to have it looked at.
Me and my Mitsubishi I-MiEV, all electric carI was a bit "concerned" as the left eye had a cataract lens implant put in two and a half years ago. Although I'd never heard of one of them dislodging, I wanted to make sure.
taken by a friend last Wednesday
taken by a friend last Wednesday
While I was getting registered in, I noticed a strange but lovely blue telephone with two handsets on the nurses desk. I asked and he explained that it's a translation phone. They call a translator (person) with it, the registering nurse on one handset, the patient on the other, so they can both hear the translator. He explained it is often used with Korean patients, though also with Spanish and other language speakers.
The Physicians Assistant at the ER was great. She did all the right stuff and determined that I have an abrasion on my cornea, below the pupil. Nothing serious, she gave me a prescription for some anti-biotic eye drops and told me to see my regular eye doctor ASAP.
While I had been waiting, I had to notify my parish church that I would not be able to do the prayers at the 4 PM service today. It is the Children's Christmas pageant, and it would have been fun. But I decided not to go..
Also, I posted on Facebook to some family and friends of my situation, and got many prayerful and thoughtful responses. All of them were appreciated.
While killing time waiting for doctors and tests, I read many of the holiday posts, and this one struck a chord with me.
~ THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS~
Twas the night before Christmas and it seemed such a shame,not a soul mentioned our dear Savior by name.They talked about Santa and the reindeer and elvesas their dust covered Bibles just lay on the shelf.The children were watching their late night TVfull of cursing and garbage that they never should see.With ma in her nightgown and I in PJ's we thought the story was funny and what could it hurt anyway.When out on the lawn the dogs started howling,I figured it must be a burglar prowling.I grabbed up my gun and ammo and mortarand away in a flash I was opening the door.Off in the distance the moon shown so bright,but out in the east the clouds were a fright.When what to my questioning ears should I hearbut the sound of a trumpet so loud and so clear.The clouds started thrashing and they started to rolland it looked just like smoke or an unfolding scroll.Then came a voice so majestic and strongthat I started to tremble cause I knew I'd been wrong.Come Joseph, come Matthew, come Luke and John.Rise Mary, now Martha, Peter and Tom.Then the earth started shaking with a great roaring soundand I saw these souls rising up from the ground.Then my heart began pounding and I couldn't believe the sight I was seeing, oh it just couldn't be so.I shook my head twice and I looked back againand I still saw them flying up to the sky to meet him.Then in a twinkling the dead ceased to riseso I thought it was over but to my surprisea neighbor came screaming from his house down the street.His wife had just vanished as she lay there asleep.Now the street was in havoc and our neighborhood too,everyone had lost someone and didn't know what to do.The sirens were screaming as mothers all criedand I looked up and saw a plane fall from the sky.Then I looked at my wife and she looked back at meand we both remembered our newborn baby.As we ran through the house we both half screamed,Lord, don't let this happen, oh please let it be a dream.When we came to the nursery we searched over the floorwe searched through the crib and we searched high and low,but our darling baby was not in sight.Now we knew that the rapture had happened this night.As we walked through the house we knew what we'd see,no longer were our children sitting watching TV.The reporter was telling us strange things that had happened all over the world.And in such great confusion I sat there and ponderedhow could God make mistakes; it was all I could wonder.I went to church Sundays and I gave of my tithes.I never stole things and I never told lies.Oh, it was then that it happened and it made me realizeit isn't through goodness and it isn't through tithes,it isn't through works or things that we feltthat could cause a poor soul to be doomed to hell.Yes, salvation is one thing that is not really complicated.Just like the 16th verse of John stated,"that the Father so loved us that he gave us his sonand whosoever believeth, to him the victory is won."So if you're here today as a prisoner of sin,remember Jesus is knocking so please, please let him in. Yes, the rapture is coming and it may not be long.What a shame to be left here when our loved ones are gone.The author is unknown
The person who posted this is an acquaintance and related to another acquaintence, both good people who live "back home" in the swamps we were reared in. (In the South, we "raise" livestock, and "rear" children). Mostly I was filled with the pain behind the need to post this, how alone the person who posted this must feel in the world. Since she professes to be a Christian, and I believe she tries very hard to "do right" in her life, I responded with this:
We are ambassadors for Christ. All day, every day. Are we showing his unconditional love? Especially to people who are not like us? And our enemies? That is the Christmas WE must witness to, every day. Even when it’s not easy.
We Episcopalians don't spend a lot of time speculating on the afterlife, or if in fact there will be a "Rapture" or who goes and who doesn't. We recognize that our primary focus is here and now, a version of what I responded with above. We believe our "mission" on earth is to focus on loving all of Gods creation, including all of his children. I love this short video by our previous presiding bishop regarding this issue:
Now to how my eye issue gave me a very profound blessing this morning.
I live in one of the most "diverse" cities in the United States. Moreover, I live and work in "South" Los Angeles. When I moved into my current neighborhood, six years ago, I was the only "white" person in blocks. I have done what any "good" Southerner should do, tried to be a good neighbor to my neighbors, show respect and hospitality. Knowing some Spanish helps. Having a deep and long time relationship with Black Americans also helps.
But mostly, holding onto my "inquiring and discerning heart" that my Episcopal baptism vows remind me to live every day, remind me that we are ALL Children of God. A loving and gentle God, who asks us to live as his incarnate son, Jesus of Nazareth lived, Every day.
So after I got my prescription from the Gay Fillipino American nurse, I drove over to a Rite Aid pharmacy, smack in the middle of the Wilshire/Union neighborhood. I parked my little I-MiEV in a parking space no one else could fit in and went inside.
The shopping plaza was buzzing with activity. Families were preparing for the holiday. Central Americans seriously celebrate Christmas. In addition to the usual family feasting and gathering, they sometimes set off fireworks to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's great fun.
Inside the store, most of the signs were only in Spanish. I noted some of the folks from my past would be affronted and make comments about "being in a foreign country," even though most of them have never actually set foot out of the United States.
While I was waiting in line, I struck up a conversation (in SPANISH) with a young man from Guatemala. Like many Central Americans who come, he was short, brown and genuinely sweet. His name was David. He explained to me that his first son had just been born (also at Good Samaritan) and he was getting a prescription filled for his wife. When we exchanged introductions, he smiled at my name, he had named his son Eduardo (Edward). I showed him photos of our Mother Edna at her 95th birthday party. I told him how Edna had ALWAYS told both of us that if we had the chance to learn a second language, to do it, because no person has a complete education with only one language. I also told him about my wonderful native Tampa Florida, the oldest Tri-lingual city in the country, English, Spanish and Italian, since the early 1900's. He complmented me on my Spanish.
His face lit up as he commented "Muy Fuerte" (Very Strong). I told him her story, basically that of a refugee from the rural north Georgia hills, who fled the poverty of sharecropping to get an education and make a better life for herself. By doing so, she made a much better life for her children as well.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1983 from my native Florida. I came with a Dodge and $445, to chase a dream of a better life, a place where being "Queer" was not such a big (and judgemental) deal.
This is the "American Dream" at it's finest, and I guess the reason why I feel so (to the point of tears sometimes) for ALL immigrants (including my husband Davide) but even more so for my undocumented neighbors. Their struggles are the struggles of my own blood, leaving all behind to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Their blood is my blood, and we ALL share the blood of Jesus. Being "Saved" is not the point, we are ALL saved by what God did and does, every day.
When his turn came up at the window, he asked me to translate for him, which I was glad to do. Neither he or his wife have insurance, and he paid cash for the prescription. In California, we pay for ALL babies to come into this world in a safe hospital, and don't ask for papers, we just do what's right, by God.
As I walked back to my car, a young woman in the car parked next to mine (not the one in the photo) was talking in a mix of Spanish and English about plans for her family's get together later tonight.
It's Christmas in Los Angeles. "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora, Reina de Los Angeles" (The PEOPLE of OUR LADY, Queen of the Angels). Even the name of our city reminds us that we are all Children of God, watched over by Jesus' very loving mother, The Virgin Mary, who is also Queen of Angels.
Even if you don't believe the details of this, consider how enriched my life has been by living in a place filled with so many gentle and loving people. A place so many of us refugees call "home."
And more importantly, consider how rich a life centered in love can be, rather than one lived in fear.
"Faith is not believing that certain claims or statements about God are true. Genuine faith presumes a relationship with God...and a way of seeing the world as life-giving and nourishing rather than as hostile and threatening.”
Brother David Vryhof, Society of St. John the Evangelist
For my cousin Roger, my folks back home in Florida, Judy, Earl, Gordon and Don, who seem to struggle so with comprehending a world bigger than the citrus groves and cattle pastures, teaming swamps filled with life, who understand the balance of nature, but with translating that balance into the humanity that we all share, my Christmas blessing is best embodied by this old prayer. It celebrates my life, celebrates the gift of having been born "Queer" which forced me to look beyond my own back yard, and in embracing, helped me to embrace ALL of Gods children, and not worry about the details of their salvation.
An Unknown Confederate Soldier
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was make weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for,
but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.
Prosperous New Year
And Gods peace that passes all understanding
Keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God
This day and always
My baby Christmas Tree (above)
Spotted somewhere over Los Angeles (below)
Now we know how Santa delivers his presents !!