Things are off to a good start, and we have almost everyone we need in place in order to get started in September. Things have shifted quite a lot, with people "aging out" and moving up as their kids have gotten older. But we're adjusting, and finding new people to move into the program here and bring new interest, gifts, and ideas.
Our numbers are down, and we don't know quite what to make of it.
And it was good this week to meet up with my peer group in Glenwood. Being with them always generates a lot of excitement--creativity, ideas, differing approaches, connection--and the feeling that, yes, we can do this!
As for the novel, I mentioned in May that I have a new writing partner. You will want to look at Carol's website and her books here: Carol Bodensteiner. Carol has published a novel and a memoir, and of course I consider her a pro!
We have agreed that ours is a good working arrangement, in part because our brains work so differently, and we follow different processes. Having a partner has helped me to make progress on the novel, both in terms of getting out what I want to say (keep going, keep going, keep going) and in fine tuning my skills. The bonus is in having an opportunity to get to know Carol!! (who will be an official peanut brittle taster at the Iowa State Fair this year, I might add)
During my time off, I laid low and hid out. Read a lot (mostly novels) and took a couple of short, not-too-far-away trips, one to Elgin to see my daughter, and one to the North Shore with Jack in mid-July. Glorious. Perfect weather allowed for lots of hiking and being on the water, exploring Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail, and revisiting our home near Duluth. Lilia accompanied me on the trip to Elgin:
I used to use the term "compassion" a lot, but have decided that compassion is actually "mercy lite." Of course, a big part of the question is--what IS Mercy in the first place?
At our peer group meeting on Tuesday (CLADD) we heard Ellen Miller talk about Mary's Meals, which is a global initiative for feeding hungry children around the world:
On Wednesday, a dear friend had a biopsy, and is awaiting the results. I've been trying to offer some support from a distance, and in one of my text messages sent a photo and this: God's mercies are new every morning. To which she responded, "Thanks for this reminder. I have pleaded for God's mercy here."
And, then the story a woman from our Bible study shared this week. Last fall, Jean asked us to pray for Vinnie, her daughter's best friend, a young mother of three, who had a tumor on her spine. Three doctors in Des Moines and four doctors at Mayo told Vinnie they were certain it was a malignant tumor. (Jean brought this concern to our Bible study group, which we think, has a charism of Intercessory Prayer. I don't know how this "works" exactly. But we pray. And things happen, usually good things.)
Vinnie's tumor was benign.
But they couldn't get all of it, so they sent her home and scheduled surgery again for summer. She would be at Mayo for three months in radiation treatment. In surgery, however, "for some reason" the tumor fell off. Fell Off in the hands of the surgeon, leaving nothing to radiate, so Vinnie came home.
When and where and how does Mercy show up in our lives? Mercy shows up as a sack lunch. Something concrete, that can bring a sense of satisfaction and nourishment and being cared for. Mercy shows up as a tumor that seems to take care of itself, setting us free to go on and live our life. Mercy shows up any place where words are not enough.
I need to say, this, however. Mercy shows up, too, when the refrigerator is empty and when the tumor is malignant. Mercy shows up, too, when the house burns down and the job doesn't come through. What I'm saying is, Mercy is also mysterious. It's that underlying thing that lends substance and support to our experience, even in the midst of pain, suffering, and unanswered questions.
How is Mercy showing up in your life, and how are you able to receive it? How do you extend Mercy to others? Where does it seem Mercy is most needed?