I love my oncologist and the nurses and staff who are taking care of me. I awoke today and it was clear that I was feeling the effects of pushing a little too hard on Monday. I had not kept hydrated and my body was telling me things were not right. I went to church, completed a few small projects, had a great lunch with a good friend and then made a call to the doctors. They took me right in, gave me a bag of fluids and all of a sudden I was feeling a whole lot better. Making sure I stay hydrated is one big piece of my “new normal”. I always thought I did a good job at that…apparently not as good as I thought. One of the “transformations” over the past few weeks is that I have swapped my Dunkin Donuts cup for a water bottle.
Life will never be the same after hearing the words, “you have Cancer”. I am thankful for the “transformations” that have come along on this journey which are life giving and life affirming. Cancer has helped me slow down, celebrate what truly matters and not get distracted by “secondary things”. When I was first in the hospital I turned off the sound on my phone and would periodically check for messages and emails. As I left the hospital I was not ready to have the phone control my life as it had earlier…so the ringer stayed off. Over a month later and the ringer is still off. I do not get a notice with every text, email or Facebook update. People call, they leave a message, I call them back…it works wonderfully and I am not a “slave” to the beeps and rings of my phone. I am present for the conversation around the table, across the room or on the street. A simple change that has “transformed” the way I am in relationship with people I am present with.
I have also learned that some things which I used to take for granted…well you just can’t take them for granted. Some of the drugs they have me on are great for treating Cancer…not so good for keeping things “regular”. My brother-in-law Todd has helped me find a way to celebrate when things are the way they should be. In the midst of this journey it has been good to find moments for laughter. I find it helpful to laugh at even the uncomfortable things, they are all part of the journey. Nancy and Rayann will either laugh along with me or tell me I have crossed some imaginary line. I told Rayann I was going to wear my new shirt to church one Sunday…apparently that crosses some line. I have always been an optimistic person…able to see the possibilities and to work towards what could be. This journey has helped “transform” me into someone who can laugh at the absurdity of some things in life.
This past Sunday I experienced another of what I am calling my Cancer Transformations. I love using technology in worship. One of my passions is to use it well and have it move “seamlessly” through the service. While I was pastor at Church in the Acres I loved working with our tech team and we did a lot of creative things using technology. My motto, which I shared with them on a regular basis was “seamless baby, seamless”. The goal always is for technology to work and be at the same time not be noticed in the service. As soon as something goes wrong everything stops. We can be in the midst of a moving, sacred service and all of a sudden the audio system screeches. Nobody is thinking about the service…all ears, hearts, minds are directed to the audio system and people are wondering if/when that sound will happen again. We can be using a projector, everything moving smoothly and all of a sudden the words on the screen and the worship leaders words are out of sync. Worse yet are those days when all of a sudden the screen goes blank because a bulb blows, computer crashes, or program freezes. I talk about those glitches as “blocks”. They “block” people from encountering the living God in worship. In those moments when technology does not work the way we expect it to peoples eyes, ears, hearts, minds, and souls are directed away from the almighty and holy…they are “blocked” from encountering Abba Father. Those moments frustrate me, they drive me crazy and when they happen I am undone. I lose focus and it takes me a moment to quiet myself and then put my attention back where it needs to be.
So, here is what happened last Sunday. The video projector went down during the first few minutes of the service. It was not like the words were off a little…the thing went blank. Our tech “guy” Chris is awesome. I love him. He does a great job and does not get flustered or upset…just does his job and makes things move smooth. One Sunday my mic squealed. I was sitting on the front pew when all of a sudden someone touched me on the shoulder and handed me a new power pack. I laugh and tell him he has the “most powerful position in the whole church” as he controls how everything sounds and looks on Sunday mornings. This technology interruption turned out to be a computer program that froze. Chris quietly and quickly rebooted the computer and got things running again with very little interruption.
The transformation was what happened inside me during the whole event. When the screen went blank I flashed to my “oh no another block” place and then it quickly faded away. I was caught up in the worship. As Chris remotely raised the screen up front I chuckled and thought well, “we are going tech free this Sunday.” The interruption did not matter, it was a small thing in the midst of much larger things and we would survive it just fine. A few minutes before Chris had everything restored I had one of those self-aware moments when I realized I was responding to this in a very different way than I would have a few weeks ago. I am sure that every time technology fails there will be a twinge of stress, anxiety, frustration but it was nice to have it pass so quickly and have my attention return to what was truly important.