Monday, November 23, 2009

In which the Episcopalian anoints a Buddhist

Last week, I visited a comatose patient in the ICU, but haven't felt able to write about it. Even now, what I'll say will be brief.

The patient, R., has been the chief potato cook for several years at the Cafe which my university chaplaincy sponsors. About 2 weeks ago, he fell from his roof. He has, among other problems, a brain injury. Thus, during my visit, he was as though asleep.

Never mind that he basically considers himself a Buddhist -- I anointed him anyway, making a small sign of the cross on his forehead as I whispered a blessing. I've anointed comatose patients three times in this same hospital, but this was the first time that the patient responded.

As I lifted my finger from his forehead, R. opened his eyes wide, looked at me, and then closed them again. In those few seconds, I saw in his eyes the most powerful light streaming toward me. When his eyelids closed, the light stayed in the room. R. has had great support, and a steady stream of loving family and friends. I felt such a magnificent presence of the Spirit during those few minutes, it was all I could do to get safely back to the church, for my own steps seemed just slightly lifted above ground.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Very thin suspect

Another gem from our local newspaper in southeastern Iowa:

"About 5:43 a.m., police investigated a theft at the Superwash car wash that occurred during the overnight hours. The suspect(s) entered the coin machine, and approximately $50 in quarters was taken. A similar theft was reported on Nov. 11."

It's amazing how much I look forward to these funny back-page reports. It's good to laugh out loud after the first wacko day back in the office in two weeks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Today I wondered why it is that I sit in church, or (some years back) in a seminary class, or a dinner party, and still find that I'm an outsider when someone inevitably says "We all know that character in ____ ___ ____ ___" (Random Cable TV Show), or "like that song everyone learned as kids," or "the latest couple from XYZ Current Reality Show."

We don't all have Cable TV, or we don't choose to watch TV when we have free time at home, or maybe we never went to camp as a child (and so never learned a single camp song). Today, listening to a sermon, I simply noted that I've never seen the History Channel. I wondered if I should regret this, since it sounded as though I needed to have seen it to understand the preacher. But it's not even that I feel removed from the majority; I just plain don't care. I'm old enough, finally, that it doesn't matter if my unfamiliarity with popular culture marks me as an odd duck. Quack, and quack.