For Whom the Bell Tolls

Therefore, send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  (John Donne, 1624.  Meditation 17.  Devotions upon urgent occasions.)

man riging bell

Such is the reflection of these famous words scripted by John Donne and later repeated by Ernest Hemmingway in one of his most famous works of literature.  The intent of each author is to emphasize the interdependence of humanity; no man can truly live or function as an island.  Whether we live or die, honor God or blaspheme His name, our actions at some point will touch the lives of others around us given time and opportunity.

Case in point:  I’ll never forget that day in Dominicks, a grocery store in the west suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  It was my day off from work and I was picking up a few groceries before heading home.  I’m not sure why I was dressed up while running a few errands . . . I do recall wearing my nice and warm, long wool coat to fend off the early Spring chill still lingering outside.  Suddenly at the end of the aisle was my good friend’s dad!  He said a cherry “hello” and explained that he was in town visiting for some family occasion.  Mr. Y. always had a gracious way about him:  asking permission to tell you another story or joke before parting ways.  He laughed about me humoring an older person by talking with him or something like that then shared a quick note to give his regards to my husband.  I looked him straight in the eye.  He had no idea.

Immediately Mr. Y knew something was wrong.  I walked closer to him, recognizing that I was about to open my heart in the middle of a grocery store aisle!  My former spouse was discovered in an affair less than 3 weeks before.  Intervention from our church had begun and my life was in turmoil as my heart was still reeling in crisis mode.  It didn’t help that my grandmother had also died and I was in the middle of facilitating the refinancing of our home (not knowing if I would be living there in the future or not).  All of that stuff was about me and my drama.  What I did not expect was the look on Mr. Y’s face when I told him my story.  Do you know that look in the movies when someone has just been punched in the stomach so hard the person could not breathe?  The smile on his face turned to anguish.  He could not speak.

Mr. Y’s reaction showed me the reality of love between the body of believers or those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior.  We bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We know what it means from a human level, a heart level, and a violation of God’s plan for us when a brother in Christ falls.  Craig probably never realized that his actions affected so many people and perhaps did not care.  This was astounding to me.  He was a leader in our Bible church and a gifted Sunday school teacher.  Craig excelled in his work in the mental health field, loved working out, and was quite good at photography.  He loved a good philosophical discussion and we had many.  It is a matter of history that my coming to faith in Christ was facilitated by these very sessions:  Craig helped answer many of my questions and led us to both a seeker-friendly church then a smaller, more intimate body of believers.  I got saved because I dated Craig.  In that Bible church is where I had met Mr. Y and became good friends with his daughter, Deb.  Friends like this are closer than my own family at times.

So where am I going with all of this?  When I am home alone every day, not even leaving the house for days on end, of course it is easy to forget the love of dear friends and family in my life.  Sure the pup looks up at me with soft brown eyes when I walk into the kitchen but it’s just not the same!  My intended beloved, Steve, is away from home a lot and often into the early evening.  Since I don’t feel well most of the time I just stay home if I don’t have an appointment or urgent need for food!  This week was particularly dry in this regard.  As it turns out, most of the week was devoted to adjusting to a new treatment we’re hoping will eliminate the daily seizure-like episodes.  I slept or moped about most of the week anyways; I didn’t notice that I was by myself as the quiet was itself healing medicine.  When I come out of this fog of late and I’m still isolated at home, I must remember that I am totally never alone.

Do you have this confidence Gentle Reader?  We are connected by this blog.  For that I am humbled and honored, that you have taken the time to step closer to me.  We probably resonate some on the issues of life or you would not have chosen to stop by when so many other bloggers have their own yada yada yada to share.  Our connection will be even more meaningful to me if I know that it goes beyond my stories and our simple humanity to the very essence of what gives meaning to life:  a shared faith in God through His son, Jesus Christ.  If you do not yet have the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing the Lord intimately then I invite you to step before the throne of grace today.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and seek Him with a sincere heart through the Bible, His words.  When we repent and invite Jesus into our hearts we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; we are never alone again.  Please tell me what you find, k?

For those of you who share the love of Christ already:  I look forward to meeting with you one day!  Whether in this life or the next, we’re going to have a great time celebrating the glorious riches of a life surrendered to our King.  Standing in the presence of the Lord will wash away our tears and troubles bringing joy beyond what we could ever see today.  May the glimpses of His holiness and glory in the goodness that surrounds each of us sustain you, encourage you, and lift you up until we arrive in our eternal home.  Therein the bell will toll with tales of triumph for all of us.  Such a sweet sweet sound that will be!

They came, they went, and life goes on

Here is the reason that living in the moment is so very important:  the good ones soften the others!

I am so grateful for the first meeting of our church home group that met this evening.  Steve and I volunteered to host a group to try to break up the isolation that I have experienced since becoming more homebound these past two years.  Sometime in the early Spring of last year I made the difficult decision to stop attending worship services because the building is water-damaged (WDB).  Every time I was inside the structure for Sunday worship or an event, I paid dearly with violent seizure attacks.  The kind that are triggered by mold ramp up quickly.  Most of the time I was barely able to make it back to our car before the shaking began and it quickly became convulsions one seated inside.  A perfect electrical storm let loose inside my head.  Gratefully they did not last for more than 30 minutes most of the time.  However afterwards I was beat up with a sharp headache, profound fatigue, ringing in my ears, increased upper body pain, and emotional devastation for hours thereafter.  To suffer like that was not what the Lord has called me to do . . .

Thus began my practice of listening to our pastor’s messages at home on the internet.  Thus became me living my Christian fellowship through Steve as he would attend two services per week in addition to the men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday.  He came home each of these days and shared a detailed review of Pastor Paul’s verse-by-verse teaching of the Old and New Testaments in addition to updates on our church family members.  I felt humbled and sad when he would tell me of individuals who had asked about me.  This was a mixed blessing.  I appreciate others asking and praying for me.  Rarely did anyone contact me thereafter.  Such is the nature of things in contemporary America.

One couple couldn’t make the meeting tonight as the wife was having medical tests and likely being admitted to the hospital.  Yipes!  We prayed for Ellen and hope that she recovers soon.  Our group was small yet the fellowship was rich.  I stressed about getting everything ready before 7:00 p.m. as my medical-day ended at 5:20 p.m.  That barely left enough time to shower, clean, and prepare snacks before my husband came home.  Everything came together shortly after our guests arrived; it always does.  Our group conversation was meaningful and even personal for our first time together, discussing John 18 that was preached this past Sunday.  Before we knew it the evening was over.  Before I knew it the evening noxious episode that awaits me around 10:00 p.m. was set to begin, following me late into the night.

And so it goes.  Life goes on.  Now I’m awake at 4:00 a.m. recapping the night:  at least once per month I’ll get to break bread with my brothers and sisters in Christ during our home group.  This is good.  I am glad and it was worth the wait.  :J