Still Walking – Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It’s been quite a while since I added a post to “Walking Martha Home,” so I decided that I’d start a new blog and attempt at some point to bring the old pieces over.  We’ll see how long that takes!

So why attempt this again? Why today? All long stories.  Over the weekend, I started reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Her DIG Deep approach struck me: get deliberate, inspired and going. Life is a little overwhelming right now. I know I’m not alone in this.  I talk to too many people and find myself in too many situations where others feel the same way.  So here goes – blog attempt #3 as I still walk my way home.

So why now?  Here’s the confession.  For several years in an effort to live authentically and well as questions around aging faithfully and faithfully serving as a disciple of Jesus Christ grow more numerous and challenging, I’ve worked with a professional counselor and spiritual director.  The counseling sessions offer a safe place to deal with my guilt as daughter and wife who feels she is never good enough in either role.  The spiritual direction sessions often return to my fear of disappointing God – another direction the guilt takes. Anybody else feel they are disappointing parents, spouse and God – especially as the second half of life moves forward? Feel free here to admit it.  I know I’m not alone.

So why today?

  • My 92-year old mother was released from the hospital earlier today following another bout with pneumonia.  My brother took her to the ER on Saturday night.  I got a call from him that afternoon as I walked in the house after a day filled with denominational church responsibilities.  We rushed to Culpeper and actually found her better than I expected.  Yet, each time the nursing team asked her about home, my tears welled up.  Her response was either that she did not have a home or she lived across the street at the nursing home.  And the guilt grew stronger.
  • Steve and I talked all the way home that night about options.  We were planning to leave at 10:30 AM Sunday for a trip to Las Vegas.  This is a bucket list experience for him to play in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Texas Hold ‘Em Main Event.  By the time we finally got to bed, the decision was made that he would go on and I’d stay with mom.  The first call to my brother on Sunday morning about 8:00 AM confirmed that decision.  With tears in my eyes and spousal guilt at an all time high, hotel and car reservations were changed.  Details were cared for and set.  I was sending my husband off across the country for the biggest event of his life ALONE.
  • Steve’s suitcases were in the car, everything ready to go when my brother called and my mother said with a strong voice, “Go.”  After questioning that several times and checking with my brother, my suitcase got packed in record time. Then with the first note about mom from a family member, the guilt came flooding in hard and fast.
  • Here we are today.  Mom is back at the health care center. I talked with her just a short time ago.  Steve was just in a couple of bad beats but hopefully can turn things around and make it through for Day 2 on Thursday. Then Friday while we’re still here in Las Vegas, I’m expecting to see the report from the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops in my inbox –  a way forward for a United Methodist Church that could learn a lot from the WSOP Main Event.  Maybe the Called General Conference session should be held in the same location and at the same time as the Main Event.  Now, bear with the social worker in me.
  • I’ve seen as many signs of the cross and wearing of religious symbols as I’ve seen PokerGo and WSOP logo wear and wireless headphones.  I am sure there are people of more faith traditions here than I can name. All you have to do is listen to the variety of languages being spoken and stories of homelands being offered. Yet the shared love of a game cuts across all the differences in theology and practice, background and native language.  Everybody ends up sitting at the same table focusing on the highest priority.  Something for us to learn here?
  • Couples of all types are supporting each other in all kinds of ways: from the two women walking hand-in-hand consoling one another after loses to the male couple expressing their affection for one another in front of thousands of other poker playing men to couples like me and Steve.  Passion for the game is the tie that binds.  Why can’t we do the same around our passion for Jesus?
  • In many ways, this is wonderful break from the current reality of the world.  I haven’t heard a word uttered about what’s happening at the White House.  There’s no arguing about who may be the next Supreme Court justice.  I haven’t heard mention of North Korea, Putin or trade tariffs.  The closest I’ve been to a conversation about any body’s patriotic bend with July Fourth quickly approaching is a compliment on a person’s nails which were done to represent the United States flag. All the harmful conversation that we hear on a daily basis has been put aside to gather for the world’s largest card tournament.  What might happen if we could do the same for a global conversation about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?

Maybe I’ll read the report from the Commission on a Way Forward a little differently after this experience.  I don’t know that it will change any of my guilt as a daughter, spouse and United Methodist Christian. I’ll still return home with regret that I didn’t stay with mom.  I’ll still return home thinking I could have done more to support Steve.  I’ll return home still feeling guilty for missing a meeting called by Bishop Lewis yesterday to strategize about how the Virginia Conference moves forward following the Called General Conference session.  But maybe…just maybe…I’ll have a clearer vision of my own for where God is calling me to be at work in the real world – a world filled with different ways of living out what we believe.

“No matter how much you may want to think of Holdém as a card game played by people, in many respects it is even more valid to think of it as a game about people that happens to be played with cards.”

– Phil Hellmuth, American professional poker player who has won a record 14 World Series of Poker bracelets

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