I have torn my rotator cuff badly in multiple places. At first, we thought it could be helped by physical therapy because I had not broken any bones. After the MRI we knew it would require shoulder surgery. Basically, there are several muscles that control the movement of the shoulder. In my case, muscles and tendons need to be reattached to the bones. Then there is a six-week period of healing followed by physical therapy for several months. Now I am back in Albuquerque for the fall.
I traveled to Hungary one year ago to begin two years of volunteer work as a Global Mission Associate for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Before I left my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I gave away most of my stuff, sold my car, packed up books, dishes, and other essentials, and stored them in my garage. Two young men are living in my house, covering the expenses, and watching over everything while I am away. Even if they moved out, I would have to unpack things and find a way to get around (I can’t really drive without my right arm). Today I find myself in Albuquerque without a house or car. It was an unexpected summer, and now I am having an unexpected fall (after an unexpected fall).
I sold my car to a friend from Tamaya Pueblo and packed my things in the garage.
Along the way I have learned a few things:
Life never goes as planned. You know the phrase, “Best laid plans…”? The actual phrase is, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” from Scottish poet Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse.” The modern translation goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I have always been a long-range planner. I set goals and map out rough schedules a few years into the future. I had planned all sorts of thing for this summer and fall that now will not happen. Sometimes I need to hold a little more lightly to the plans I have made. In John 3:8 Jesus tells Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” I pray that I will follow the Spirit’s leading, and not hold too tightly to my own plans.
You can go home again. If we are friends on Facebook you know that I have been able to enjoy my time in New Mexico, despite my arm. Friends have taken me to Pueblo Feast Days, lectures, street fairs, and festivals. I have been on long drives through northern New Mexico to see the fall colors and visit friends in other towns and cities. There have been lots of visits with lots of people and congregations. I even got to participate in the installation of the new Campus Pastor at UNM and CNM. As a pastor in the ELCA I have always “moved on” and “moved away” after I finished a call. Now in retirement I have my first opportunity to return to one of the places I have known and loved. Thinking of Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, I wasn’t sure that I could go back to Albuquerque. My experiences this summer have convinced me that I can. I am truly delighted that I will be able to go home to New Mexico after my time in Hungary.
Laguna Pueblo Feast Days are March 19th and September 19th
We need each other. Thank God for good friends and family who have taken me in, and who drive me everywhere I need to go. I am grateful to my brother Dick and his wife Tina who put me up all summer. I am grateful to Jan Krakow who is letting me stay with her this fall. Other friends have taken me to church and water aerobics. Others will help with physical therapy appointments and doctor visits. As St. Paul writes in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ.” Hebrews 13 begins, “Let mutual love continue.” In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter writes, “Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” It is the gift of Christian community in the Body of Christ. I am truly grateful to all those who have loved me and are helping me through this difficult time.
Moonrise over Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains