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Theology vs. The ObviousOne of the members of my health care team is a medical assistant who works at my neurologist’s office. Her name is Luz, and she really lives up to her name – she’s a source of light and warmth. I feel better just talking to her on the phone.

So Luz called to tell me the results of my recent MRI, but my phone started to get hinky, cutting out some of what she was saying.

“Just wanted to let you know….”

I swear, I heard her say to me, “there’s no good news.”

Bracing myself for the worst, I went to another room and said, “Would you mind repeating that please?”

She said, “Of course. Just wanted to let you know, there’s no new lesions.”

Phew.  I nearly fell over with relief. One of the ways my neurologist tracks the course of my multiple sclerosis is by looking at the number of white lesions on my brain, as shown by the MRI. If there are no new lesions, it’s a good sign. Even though my symptoms may not be improving, they’re not getting worse.  I’ll take that.

My mind heard Luz say, there’s no good news. Luckily, even though I did tense up when I thought there was bad news, I was still able to stay in that centered place in my soul – some call it “entering into the rest of God” – and I didn’t over-react.  My heart skipped a beat or two, but I waited to hear what she was saying the second time before I went into a tail-spin.

Now, I don’t always maintain such equanimity, oh no.  Just ask my teen-age son. Yep, he’s got stories for you!  But it is possible to leave the burdens in God’s hands so you don’t feel so heavy-laden. I’m so grateful we can always let go and let God.

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114H (1)Any time people see me on a regular basis, I’m limping. Or I’ve got gauze around my arm from an infusion. Or I’m using a cane – sometimes even crutches.

So when they see me, their natural instinct is always to tell me about their own illnesses. Of course, they mean well. They believe that by doing this, they’re showing concern for my well-being. But honestly, I’m not too fond of the fact that I’ve come to symbolize pain to them.

When I think about it, I really don’t know anything meaningful about them. I see the cashier at the store once a week, and I know about her infirmities in great detail. But what of the dream in her heart, perhaps it was to be a dancer in a ballet troupe? Or maybe she wanted to own a little flower shop, selling peonies and zinnias. Why is it that tragedy and turmoil have become the “greatest hits” of our lives, when somebody asks us who we are?

The dream in my own heart is to find a way to embody hope and not pain. I want to become so connected with positivity and encouragement that those I encounter at the mall or the post office don’t have time to tell me their problems.  They’ll be too busy counting off their blessings for me!

I want to tell them to pack all their troubles in an old kit bag.  Then I want them to drop that bag into the sea of forgetfulness. I don’t want them to carry that bag around with them, as if this is the sum total of who they are. Life doesn’t stop at the moment something bad happened, so don’t make those horrible things the point at which you stop living. The path goes on far beyond the pain.

So please, people.  When you see me, don’t mention that I seem more wobbly than usual. Compliment me on my new purple sneakers! Don’t reel off your aches and pains to me. Tell me about your grandkids and your garden. Talk to me about your most cherished dreams, the wonder of a sunset, that beautiful sonata that lights you up when you hear it.

On this day, when we remember those taken from us on that indelible morning thirteen years ago, there’s something we can do in their memory. Don’t dwell on your troubles. Don’t stay stuck in the past. For the sake of those we lost, let’s live.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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