Friday, August 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, #10

1. On the bus this morning, I overheard a conversation between 2 men, one of them a nurse. Let me tell you, our health system is way more messed up than we realize.

2. A fairly nearby hospital, a public hospital that is supposed to take in anyone regardless of their ability to pay, has an administrator whose salary is 2.5 million dollars a year. How does this make any sense?

3. Apparently the shortage of nurses is so severe that many of them must travel great distances (I forget what they're called) in order to cover shortages at other hospitals when, for instance, someone is on vacation.

4. The nurse said we will never catch up. The government has mandated that nursing schools increase their output of nurses by 20% over the next 10 years, or so (he was uncertain of the time frame) but there just isn't enough young people out there to do the work. The median age of nurses today is around 55.

5. The schools also just are not really equipped to educate and prepare the number of nurses that we need.

6. And then there are all kinds of inefficient practices, such as having people come in for treatment for their asthma, sitting in easy chairs to inhale their medication, something they ought to be able to do at home, but they cannot. And it is similar with migraine headache sufferers. Apparently, the medication they need for particularly bad headaches is so regulated that an ordinary physician cannot prescribe it. The patients must go to the hospital, and if they have to go in the middle of the night when the right doctors are not on duty, then they have to sit around waiting until a doctor can see them. A lot of this sounds crazy.

7. But on a totally different note, I have a few times, as a choral director and pray-er, come across the phrase "wailing wights." I finally looked it up. A wight is an archaic term for human being, so saith wordnet. There are going to be more and more wailing wights over the next 10-30 years due to our messed up health system.

And on that happy note, God bless you, have a great weekend, and be sure to check out Jennifer's quick takes! or should I say quick TAKE, today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crossed Paths, Being Stretched, Baseball, and God

I've mentioned Katie Davis before: the young woman who came from a well-to-do family in the USA who is now living in Uganda and has adopted (I think) 14 girls who had no families. She is called Mommie by many, and Aunty Kate by many others. I admire what she is doing there, personally, and through her organization, Amazima (see the links in my side-bar.) But I also worry about her.

Uganda is, in many ways, a very messed-up place. And someday, Katie may cross paths with the wrong neglectful father, or crazy man, or misguided person, who may just dislike what she is doing enough to kill her. And she will be a martyr for love. Pray for her, and others like her.

Fr. Z has an interesting piece comparing the spiritual life with pitching in Baseball, aiming for the perfect game, and how every moment is a new opportunity to change the way things are going...

I am reminded of the chapter in George Will’s great book Men At Work: The Craft Of Baseball (I have a signed edition) in which he asks pitcher Orel Hershiser, “So what’s your goal when you go to the mound? A no-hitter?” Hershiser responds:

“No … A perfect game. If they get a hit, I am throwing a one-hitter. If they get a walk, it’s my last walk. I deal with perfection to the point that is logical to conceive it. History is history, the future is perfect.” (See the rest here.)

On another note, many are suffering, worrying, searching, wondering if they have a safety net, if they should have a safety net, wondering where is God? When is he going to intervene? As to intervention, Katie Davis has said that she often worries about all the children she can't help, but hears God telling her, it is enough to help the one he puts in her path. (Of course, that one could be one a day, or one a week, we don't know until we cross their path, but, that One is enough - who knows who God might call to help the others.)

But the other side of it is that God likes to wait until the last possible moment. He likes to stretch us, to show US how far we can go without breaking. He knows, of course, but he wants us to know. And so, he stretches our faith, our trust, our perseverance, sort of like a physical trainer who gets you to push up the weights one more time, or to run just a second faster, or do one more lap. It strengthens us.

But it also reassures us that our Father will not abandon us if we trust in Him, even when WE abandon him. If we reach out our hand, even if he seems to delay, he will not fail to take our hand and lift us up. We just have to keep the hand out there.

Sometimes, a safety net is a sign of a failure to trust God. Not always, but sometimes. And when we work without a safety net, when we really do our best AND rely fully on God, he may let us fall now and then. He may let us get bruised a little, and get discouraged a little, and feel almost about to give up.

But if we don't give up, if we keep trusting, if we keep that imploring hand reaching out there, he will grasp it and lift us up, or direct our path to cross with someone else he has directed to help us, and maybe even someone WE are to help.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's a Great Life...

My father used to say, (with a little irony in his voice) "It's a great life if you don't weaken." He died of cancer in 1978, when I was 20, so I never really knew him as an adult. It was ironic, I think, that he died of cancer. He gave up smoking out of concern for cancer. The tumor was in his pancreas or spleen, I can never remember which. He used to have one or two drinks each evening in the last while before he died, and my mother came to believe that he had been numbing the pain, which delayed getting the check-up that might have been early detection that might have saved his life. Who knows?

At any rate, (what a lead-in!) it was supposed to rain Saturday, so we didn't have the tag sale. Our house is full of boxes of stuff that is supposed to be sold, so it's a bit messy in there. So, we didn't have the tag sale, and you know what, it was sunny and hot almost the entire day! I didn't rain until about 3:30 or so.

I had gone out to clean up the remaining roofing shingles I'd scraped off the roof about a year ago. I and my children have been working on it bit by bit now and then when we had the time and the weather. I finally got all except some scattered bits that need to be raked into a pile. I had, (cleverly, I thought) covered much of the area with a sheet of plastic before shoveling the shingles off the roof, so most of that spot is relatively untainted by the asphalt bits.

Any way, just as I was finishing, it began to rain, and in moments, the rain was torrential. I had just enough time to put the shovel and rake back in the garage, then I took off my shoes and stood beneath the rain spout from the back roof and washed the worst of the dust off of me. It felt great. If only a shower could be that heavy and intense, but we gotta skimp on water nowadays, don't we?

So, we could have had the tag sale. But we were going to have it on Sunday instead, but then my wife had a bad stiff neck and it was appearing even more likely to rain (and it did, off and on), so we didn't set up the tag sale after Mass.

Now, the plan is to have the tag sale this afternoon, hoping to gather in the "rush hour" traffic, though my wife is going to set up shortly after lunch. Whatever we don't sell today, we may try again to sell on Saturday. Which means I will take my daughter to her step-dancing performance in a nearby town celebrating it's annual Old Home Days. And my wife will have to miss the performance and the celebration. (It's just a small, homey thing.) So, my point... yes there is a point. I was quite aware, when we were trying to decide about the tag sale, that God's will, while behind everything that happens, even if as his "permissive will" there is just about nothing more clearly His will than the weather. So, you can't complain about the weather. You have to give thanks to God for manifesting his will so clearly in the weather. Would that everything could be so clearly God's will.

In reality, however, everything that happens is God's will, even if only in the sense that He permitted such and such. And so, we really ought to see all that way, and give thanks, even if we also must pray and act to work with what happens in the best way. We can't just sit around and say, "It's God's will," and think that our part ends there. But complaining, impatience, annoyance: I don't think so.

When we get to the end, and see all the loose ends tied up in eternity, we will see just how this or that or the other thing were willed or permitted by God, first for His glory, and second for our good or someone else's good. We'll see it and it will all make sense, and we will certainly rejoice that things happened as they did.

The thing that is most incredible, is that we can mess things up by our sins. He allows our free will to have its effect, but in the end, even with our poor cooperation, he can still bring about great good. We have to trust that.

So, it IS a great life, if you don't weaken, because weakening can mean giving up, or sinning, or complaining. We just have to trust that God knows what he is doing, and cooperate with that as well as we can.