Thursday, March 30, 2006

late to the party

This Sunday will be the fifth Sunday in Lent -- and in another week, Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.

I thought about that while driving to work this week. Most of the mornings this week the weather has been soupy, with fog, mist or low clouds. Today is different, a beautiful day of mild weather. The foggy weather in the middle of winter is deadly, perhaps because the combination of low temperatures and sun deprivation are too much for the soul. Because we are now in spring, and there are enough bulbs and other plant activity to encourage us, this mystical morning weather is actually encouraging in that we will see a riot of color soon, and then the green leaves on hardwood trees and herbaceous perennials rising up from the dirt. Anticipation works for me, and chilled gray mornings this time of year only heighten mine.

But the month of March has come so quickly. Did I slow down and reflect? Pray? Reconsider? Listen? Weed my garden (not metaphorically, really weed it)?

Not much, I'm afraid. I've been rushing through the last few weeks, dealing with a sick cat, feeling behind at work, juggling needs there and at home.

But this week I stopped. I stopped several times.

A volunteer at work died unexpectedly this past weekend. I went to the funeral home for the calling. There were pictures of her, a kindly woman who had a gift of making people feel at ease. The line to pay respects is long, and snakes past her open, wooden casket. On a flat screen video monitor is a series of family photographs. Some of her favorite items from home are placed around the room, giving some context to her life. Chitchat is minimal.

I knew her as an incredibly kind person. She had a gift at making people feel at ease. She wasn't overpowering, but started conversations as if she knew you. Her family has lost her. We all say words to them, and listen as they describe this woman who was wife and mother.

My poor "bad" eye started acting up this week, and I finally got in to see the opthamologist. I sat in an examining room after telling the story again, events from the 1980s that resulted in eye problems. After the eye is dilated, I sit in the silence of the room. I can hear voices down the hall, but mostly I sit in the dark and wait until finally the doctor will come in and shine a bright light, looking inside my poor old eye. She asks me questions about the health of my eye that requires my memory of 19 years ago. I remember how scared I was then, and how long ago that seems now.

Somewhere in the middle of our cat problems last week, the oldest cat, now 17 years old, quit eating. At one point she just shut down. In the abstract, I can say, she's so old, she's dying, we've had her a long time. But seeing this smart, difficult cat lying on a chair, not moving to eat was painful. I tried to get her to eat, but nothing. The vet finally suggested anti-nausea medication (good for dogs and cats, 1/4 of a tablet of Pepsid AC). I held her, scrawny, old thing, in my arms and stroked her back in the silence of the room. Partner got her when she was 8 weeks old in the pound (along with her now late brother who died years ago).

A year after he got her, we met. She came with him. She was an Austin cat, a DC cat, and now a Hoosier cat. The medicine finally took, and this morning she ate ferociously. I am not kidding myself that she will be with us forever, but I am grateful to see her again up and at it.

All week, I've chewed on belief, on God, on life, on people, on my parish. I've found space, time, to think, to not think, but listen. It is Lent still.

1 comment:

avril said...

A difficult week for you, which perhaps, will make this time of reflection more meaningful for you in the long run. I, too, have struggled with finding the time to pause, reflect, pray, and yes, weed my garden (although I did get out and cut back the lavender today). And I have not been to one Sunday service. Thank the lord for forgiveness!