The body doesn’t lie


It wasn’t much in the beginning but it nagged. Twinges I ignored while I walked and prepared my homily for one of three funerals. It was there as I served during our Sunday services, then a little more insistent on Monday; by Tuesday, during the funeral, I had to focus on my breathing to carry me through throbbing, seeing stars, kind of pain.

On Wednesday, I finally made it to the dentist who took one look at the x-ray of my mouth and said, “I’m sending you to an endodontist. Here are some pain meds and antibiotics—he’ll see you tomorrow for a root canal.” Another office, another gentle person and Southern gentleman who took a different kind of x-ray and said, “you have too much infection—I need you to go home and stay on antibiotics for a week before I can do the root canal. But with the antibiotics, you will turn a corner and the pain will diminish by Saturday.”

Saturday came and went with no relief. It was my turn to do the early service on Sunday and I got through that but the antibiotics were already playing havoc with my stomach and I headed back home early, in double misery now. Monday, the same. Tuesday, a little bit louder and a little bit worse. I rescheduled my appointment with the endodontist for Wednesday instead of Thursday and got in to see him mid morning. Another x-ray and this time, really bad news. My infection had not responded to the massive amoxicillin I’d been taking and it looked to him like the root was fractured. The verdict: “I’m sending you back to your dentist because he will be able to get you into see an oral surgeon for an extraction. It needs to happen today.” Schlepp back to another office with more reasonable music, wait, tell, wait some more. Get an appointment, but not for that day; “Dr. P will see you tomorrow (Thursday).

Go in on Thursday, wait a long time and finally get to see Dr. P who is part of a swank, highly efficient oral surgery center. A quick conversation about going ahead and getting an implant—”it’s only going to take a few extra minutes, I’ll have you out of here in 45 minutes.” All the while my tingly pain runs up and down my face and neck—ok, I’ll do it—and then he asks, “you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for the last six hours, right?” Uh. No. Nobody told me I shouldn’t. Outta luck then—they only do extractions and implants under sedation in this office. Get through another night of pain and come back tomorrow morning.

So finally, finally, yesterday, I got the relief. It is nice not feeling the shots in your mouth—I’ll take the little bee sting of the IV needle going in to deliver the sedation any day. It all happens a lot faster that way too. But after having gone for so long with that infection, when I woke up, I had worse pain than I ever remember experiencing. I quite literally wailed as my sweet husband rushed me to the drugstore to get the pain medicines I needed—I even scared myself. The pain subsided. I slept a lot yesterday. Today, I’ve only needed over-the-counter pain killers, spaced further apart; life and energy are coming back. And with all that the sober reminder—it’s way easier for me to take care of everyone else than myself. But the body tells it like it is, the body isn’t fooled by that lie that “I’ll be fine, I just have to get through this funeral.”

I walked out this afternoon and marveled at the calla lilies that are blooming in my front yard.

Facebook, privacy, utility

I have loved being off Facebook for a number of reasons.  So much gets amplified to the point of distortion there.  I have to manage my private/public boundaries carefully as a priest which means I was always on tenterhooks about having things misconstrued. Facebook too easily makes me reactive,  too easily offends me. There has been great gift getting to avoid all that noise.

Recently, I listened to an interview with a former member of the FCC who described Facebook as a ‘social utility’—a new kind of utility, in many ways like water and electricity. He pointed out that utility companies are viewed as important enough to the life and function of individuals and communities that they are quite regulated in order to make them available to the most people with the greatest ease possible. Utility companies are not known for being bright stars of capitalism with huge growth and profit potential, and instead, as solid performers of some pretty vital functions of communal life.  Part of the dilemma related to privacy on Facebook derives from the fact that the business model for Facebook is as opposite of a utility model as is possible.  Too much of their model depends on transgressing privacy needs for the sake of stellar profits.

When I first heard Facebook described as a utility, it helped me understand the issue with the business model and why I had such a visceral reaction against the cavalier way in which my privacy was used for financial gain.  Now, having lived without Facebook for over a month, I understand it is a utility in a deeper sense.  It is a really important means of communication and connection with the community I serve, the people who are far away, who are busy and who matter to me, people who I lose without Facebook

Admittedly with considerable reservations, with a new determination to set up the tightest privacy constraints possible, with the awareness that there are no free lunches, I am headed back to that space.  Along with the anger and trepidation I feel about this particular tradeoff, I am also aware that connection matters to me, enough to say, I’m going back on Facebook and there will be folks I’ll be glad to catch up with because I have missed them all these weeks.


Four—that’s the number of miles I am walking three or four times a week now.  It’s like reclaiming a better version of myself, renewing a connection with the land that’s different than what I experience working in the garden. Sleep comes easier and deeper at night, my mind gets clear, and on hard weeks like the one that’s just ending, I am able to sort through between what matters and what doesn’t.

Today, for part of the way, I dwelt with the words and thoughts that are beginning to take shape as I prepare the homily for one of the three members of our parish who died in a 48 hour span.  I had my phone with me and decent reception so I used YouTube to get to some music I haven’t heard in a while—on the way back on these treks on Old Selma Road, I have to walk up a moderately steep hill and I find the music gives me a rhythm that overcomes all that complaining and resistance my body wants to unleash, about half-way up the hill: “it hurts too much, it’s too hard hard, it’s too long, I’m so hot, why am I doing this?”

After the first couple of times I took these walks, I gathered up a walking stick and some pepper spray. Around the curve from the farm, heading east, there’s a Rottweiler who came flying toward me, teeth bared and spittle flying. Scared the sweet bejesus out of me. Recently, though, I happened to hear his human friend call him Rocky. Now as he comes bounding in my direction, I stop and calmly say, “Hi, there Rocky—look at you being such a good dog and taking care of your homestead.”  Mostly, that catches him by surprise and you see that pea brain of his trying to process these strange data.  “She knows my name and she is a stranger and I am totally confused.” Sometimes he just flops down, sometimes he stays on the property and walks along, with me across the street and he growling, but not messing with me.  I am always cautious and I’d use the pepper spray and walking stick if I had to, but I believe we have some kind of truce going.


There’s a little creek that runs alongside the road a little further down, and thick woods on either side.  When I first started started walking down the road, I wore jackets and sometimes even gloves, and the wind could blow something fierce. One day, it was so windy, I heard trees literally clacking against each other as they bowed and bent in the wind.  There was only the palest green sheen as you looked at the woods down the road, tiny new leaves little more than a glowing promise.


Now, the shade is dense, the heat and humidity are rolling in, and in the past two weeks, when I’ve been thirsty, I’ve been able to pick juicy, ripe, wild blackberries to slake my thirst. A bank of wild roses is in full bloom and I’ve watched nettles, poppies, crimson clover, and these incredible little purple flowers bloom and fade. The black-eyed Susans are also beginning to bloom.



I walk next to a couple of pastures that have a fair number of cattle.  I am deliciously amused by the way in which the cows stop what they are doing and turn to watch me as I approach. I always greet them which, in turn, makes them think I might have some food with me (or at least that’s what I think is going on), because darned if they don’t all start walking along with me, they and I on either side of the fence, until they reach the end of the pasture; they then watch me and moo as I continue my trek. I’ve seen deer, raccoons, a small bunny who was beyond terrified by me, hawks, an owl and a small turtle crawling across the road.


Walking in the promised land is what this feels like…