Sunday, March 1, 2015

What I pray for, by the numbers

By the numbers,

A friend once asked me how many times I'd made love to my husband. What a wonderful joy to count those little pleasures in life. What do you count?

Lady Lent: Week 1
How many children you have?

How many godchildren?

How many nieces and nephews?

How many vacations have you taken?

How many books have you read?

How often do you enjoy chocolate?

How often you enjoy a meal?

How often you pray?

How often you get a night's sleep in a comfortable bed, under warm blankets?

How often can you flush your toilet without using a bucket of water and how often does it go to a sewer system, not out the back of your house and down a rivulet by your street?

How often your car starts on the first turn of the key?

How often lights turn on with a flip of your wrist? How often you find enough funds to pay the fuel or the bill?

These are blessings.

Now here some other numbers to consider. Recently, I've been heavy-hearted about these. It seems every day I add someone else to these lists, or lose someone. I pray a lot. I am not sure I thank God as much for the thousands of things above as I do lay my heavy-heart before God for all those below.

How many people I know living with cancer? I have three in my family -- a younger sister, an uncle, in my family now. More have already gone on.

How many have already gone on? Three. All grandparents.

One cousin survived his. I have many friends who are cancer-free. I know many others who are living it with

How many people do you know have lupus, or multiple sclerosis, or cystic fibrosis or celebral palsy? I know of three. At least. One of my father's cousins died last year after years with MS. A friend from childhood had a mother with it.

What about Spina Bifida? Or other genetic or developmental disorders

How many people do you know on the spectrum (autism)? How many in your family? None in my family but oh so many friends and students. How many have ADHD? How many kids have you sat down with only to discover they have so many meds in their system they cannot function on all cylinders? How many don't have a hobby? Can't read? Don't eat vegetables and fruits? How many lack impulse control, self-control?

How many people have divorced parents? How many have been hit, neglected, abused? How many knew too much about sex at too young an age?

How many have depression? Anxiety? Bi-polar? Schizophrenia? Too many and it's too delicate to say how many in my family, how many among my dear friends, how many I know.

How many do you know are transitioning from one gender to another. I have three students and a friend. Maybe more.

How many do you know are attracted to members of their same sex? How many colleagues? Friends? Family?

How many have given up on God? Never believed?

How many people have lived in your home while addicted to substances, more than sugar or nicotine or caffeine?

During this Lent, I find myself asking, what is the balance of my litanies? How much am I dumping on God? How many times do I say thank you? He's so big, you know. I don't worry about  taking more heartache than gratitude, but it helps to bring my thanks and my hurts.

So many days, I want to cry about all the brokenness. I put on my big-girl panties and don't cry.
On Friday, at ten am, I came downstairs broken. I'd spent an hour with a girl with "mild cognitive disability" who was seventeen, engaged, living with her mother and her fiance, who couldn't read words like thesis, or proposition, or objective. She couldn't read, really. She could write. She's supposed to pass my 11th grade English class. She has an 82 percent but couldn't fluidly read a single passage from the curriculum. I sent her to the dictionary to look up words she didn't know and she couldn't read those words.

A couple of years ago, I had a senior, with a cognitive disability in Philadelphia who wrote me one day asking which teacher it was from the school I taught who wanted to meet her on the corner of her street. None of us did, that I know of. I was horrified. I called CPS because someone was going to take advantage of that girl. She was already pregnant. She too couldn't read, couldn't write, could synthesize or analyze.

I have students who are transitioning who are afraid to tell their parents of their "other" names. I have so many female students, bright and capable, with one or more children, whose next step is cosmetology school, because it's a quick training to a job they hope will support them and their children. I have girls failing high school who think they'll be able to hack nursing school. I have students who've never been to church but think the world was created in six days. I have students who think "colored" is still a word they should use in academic essays to describe another human being.

I have a long list of heartaches.

And I have two amazing kids. A phenomenal husband. Parents and a mother-in-law I'd nominate for sainthood. I have ancestors who prayed me into the Kingdom of God. I have a few neighbors who knock my socks off with love, kindness and grace for the tiniest mammals to the most dysfunctional families in neighborhood. I have a spiritual family who carries each others' burdens. I am blessed. I have the Mysteries and a great God and Savior from who all blessings and gifts flow.

Glory to God in All Things, for All Things.

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