Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Let Go

You're so strong.
With all your might, you hold on;
With all your hope, you throw it all in;
With all your trust, you believe
This time it might be different;
You're so hurt.
With all your pain, you scream inside;
With all your shame, you close your eyes;
With all your failure, you deceive;
This time it will be different.
The one thing
You're afraid to do;
The one thing
That is actually new;
The one thing
That will heal wounds;
Let go.
Or didn't you know:
Strong in the wrong direction,
Might with a false intention,
Hope in a failed invention,
Trust in a cruel deception,
Is virtue poisoned,
At its very inception?
You can't be free
Holding on so tight,
You can't be free
Afraid to release,
You can't be free
When you're in control;
Let go.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Out of Context

If you think you are who you are no matter where you are, then I would suggest you've never been far enough out of context to know the difference. The meaning of everything is shaded by context - sometimes completely changed by context.

For example, if you have been a part of or associated with a majority of some kind (e.g. majority race, majority religion, economically powerful) and then find yourself as the minorty race, minority religion, or economically weak for an extended period of time, there will be stress. Although your character and personality may initially be in tact, you will find that the world around you no longer responds "like they are supposed to." Through a consistent strings of similar experiences you may find your jokes aren't funny anymore, that your assumptions about everyone apply pretty just to you, that certain language is forbidden, certain values scorned and other values lauded.

In this new and strange context, no one is going to tell you, "hey because your context changed, here are all the things that you are going to have to deal with." No, it is not that simple. And in general, no one really knows enough about it or you to be able to tell you much about what to expect. And frankly, if someone did tell you, you'd probably be offended. And because that is the case, you'll feel alone, isolated, and sometimes you'll feel insignificant.

It may take a long time to realize that this context you are in exists for real and is not going to change all that much because you are a part of it. Not only does it take way more strength to define yourself when you are out of context, but the very act of self-definition may incite the context to exert pressure on you to stop your act of self-definition. You will feel the extent to which your old and familiar context assisted your identity and how much this new context wears on it.

On the other hand, you may notice it right away, each assumption, each response, each custom - all different (wrong?). It may be obvious to you how impossible the task to single-handedly changing the context is. You may give in and change yourself, you may hole up in cloistered existence - who knows? Whatever the case, you cannot just be you in the way you were you when your context helped you be you. You are going to have to be a new kind of you.

And therein lies the rub. How can you be you differently than you were you? What about you must be marginalized in order for you to count in this new context? What must you lay down, hide, let wither in order to be found acceptable in this new place? What conversations can you never have again becasue you have arrived here? Which of your common expressions are now found obtuse or ecentric? What perfectly normal feelings make no sense to have here? How much of you can be lost while you remain yourself? Or ar you still you at all?

The power of context is immense. And, when you are in your context, that power is practically invisible. When you are out of context, its power is highlighted in blinding fashion - impossible to ignore. People whose lives are highly privileged live in their context always. If they recognize there is another context at all, they have the power not to be in it. People who are underprivileged live out of their context - inside someone else's power structure. They do not have the power to live in their own context. Or, they may not believe that they even have a context relevant to their identity.

If all there was to Heaven was that everyone genuinely treated each other like they belonged, that they mattered, that without them this place would be worse off, wouldn't that be enough?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gail in surgery: Ponderings

The Facts:
Gail is in surgery right now at Fairview Ridges Regional Hospital in Burnsville, MN. She is having a dermoid cyst removed from her ovary. The cyst being removed is the size of racketball. To me, that is large. Gail was calm and ready as she was rolled into the operating room. We talked for about an hour in pre-op as we waited for the surgeon to get done with the emergency c-section she got called away to do. We talked some, laughed a little, and just enjoyed being together. There was no need to discuss risks or fears or concerns. We've prayed and called on our friends to pray.

For Gail to enter surgery peaceful and confortable shows her faith. Although dermoid cysts are almost always non-cancerous, there is the very, very slight chance that one may be cancerous. Since cancer is in Gail's family history, the spectre of cancer does try to make its presence known when words like "tumor" are used by the surgeon. But that fear is not with us today.

The Kiss
When they finally took Gail back to the OR, we had to part ways. As it has been a habit of ours ever since either of us can remember, we kiss and say, "I love you," before parting ways. It has always been that way. No matter if we are mad at each other, this habit overrides the anger or hurt feelings. So, when they were about to take Gail back, we did out habit. We kissed and told each other, "I love you." It was a very sweet kiss.

There are many kisses shared by spouses. There are passionate kisses where the whole body is thrown into it. There are little kisses meant to take away fear or pain. There are reminder kisses meant to continue the story that there is love in this relationship. There are desperate kisses meant to draw one to the other. There are celebration kisses that serve no other purpose than to mark some important event was worth celebrating.

And I suppose that there is a certain kind of kiss reserved for that moment when one of you is wheeled into the OR - the "pre-op kiss." This kind of kiss affirms the one going under the knife that everything is going to work out. It is a kiss of confidence and hope and optimism. This kiss says, "I am with you no matter what." It says that this surgery is not coming between us. It is a down payment on the kind of care that will be waiting for them when the surgery is over. The pre-op kiss is vulnerable and hopeful, weak and strong, and one of the most trusting kises there is. And somewhere in that kiss is the reassurance that should anything go wrong, our last contact was special and represents the kind of love we have.

Gail and I got the blessing of the "pre-op" kiss.

The Waiting
I am waiting in the very nice waiting room...thinking. The room has a TV on no one is watching. A few people sit scattered about the room sitting as far as they can from each other. I am grateful for wifi.When someone you love is in surgery, there is this feeling of powerless anticipation. All you can do is wait. You can't press time forward. You can't make any imporvements on the surgery. The work of waiting, perhaps praying, is the task of the one waiting.