We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Daily archives for April 3rd, 2018


Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

Aaacckkkk! Dishwasher. Bad dishwasher. Bad, bad, bad dishwasher. Four visits by technicians. Various ideas. None worked. Could be Samsung will buy it back or give us a new dishwasher. Which is ok. But. It will take time. And, the dishwasher died this time about a week before Kate’s surgery. As I said before, aaacckkk. And a couple of #$%!!&*!, too.


Spring                                                                             New Shoulder Moon

greenknight2feeling reenchanted. Gonna try a different tact on my 3 r’s project: reimagine, reconstruct, reenchant. I’ve imagined this project as a theological one, after all if your tool is a theological education, then… The other night, lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, it occurred to me that the real impetus behind my wish to do something new in a very, very old discipline, religion, is emotional.

A complicated mix of disenchantment with Christianity, Joseph’s key spot in my heart, an already developed sense of wonder with the natural world and its further development in Andover with gardens, the orchard, bees, our woods and a conscious choice to become more engaged with my own Celtic heritage, lifted me out of my childhood faith and somehow put me back into an even older one, the Celtic Faery Faith.

As this melange floated in and out of my consciousness, Kate and I attended a conference in Iowa City on climate change. Sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, PSR, it brought together key thinkers, policy people, and its membership, largely physicians. That conference was an aha moment for me, one that married my changing religious worldview with a political movement focused on the environment. That sort of work, political work on behalf of the environment itself, was as big a shift as the religious one, away from years working on economic justice and civil rights issues.

greenmanOn a trip not long after, one of many Colorado trips, I stopped in Cody, Wyoming. While there, I read Thomas Berry’s little book, The Great Work. When he said the great work of our time involved creating a sustainable human presence on the earth, the two big changes in my life merged. I would work on efforts to create a sustainable human presence on the earth while trying to understand the religious effort necessary to sustain such work. It seemed obvious to me at the time that an earth focused faith might answer and, further, that the Celtic Faery Faith had some elements that would be useful.

That was when I began to work with the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, eventually managing its legislative efforts. I had, earlier, retired from Christian ministry and become a Unitarian-Universalist clergy part time. Very part time. At first it seemed that liberal religion might hold the key to the theological half of the work. But it didn’t. It wasn’t really rooted in anything except a heady attempt to make Emerson a demi-god.

 utagawa hiroshige

utagawa hiroshige

It took me years to realize that the religious half of this work had its core in the soil, in plants, in animals, in caring for all these; that the nub of this transition out of institutional religion was not intellectual, not even really emotional, rather it was tactile spirituality. Still, being the heady guy that I am, I kept coming back to the books, back to the ideas of emergence, novelty, creativity, sustainability, climate change science, the history of the Great Wheel.

Well, I’m headed now in the direction of magical realism, non systematic, impressionistic, real, but not quite real, the direction of reenchantment. Look for posts in this vein in the future.


Life Extenders

Spring                                                                  New Shoulder Moon

bunnyus“I’m a doer.” Kate said this yesterday. Yes, she is. So much so that we often referred to her as the energizer bunny. Jon’s divorce, Sjogren’s and arthritis has made doing difficult, often downright painful. The combination put her in a tough place psychologically; but, it feels now, for the first time in a year plus, that she’s going to push through it. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep on going.”

shoulder reversalWe had her first post-op appointment yesterday and got to see an x-ray of the new appliance. This isn’t hers, but it’s an accurate representation of what we saw.  As this image shows, the ball of the shoulder is now where the socket used to be and the socket where the ball used to be. This reverse total shoulder uses different muscles to power the arm, the deltoid in the main. It also reduces pain more for certain patients though I’m not sure why.

Seeing the screws, poking out from the ball, seemed strange to me, but it underscores orthopedics as the carpentry of medicine. Sawbones. The multiple uses of the inclined plane. Thanks, Archimedes.

These surgeries, joint replacement, aren’t perfect, but they’re way better than doing nothing. My knee, for example, is not the knee I had when I was 40, but it is pain free and I can work out without contorting myself. I can’t stand for long periods of time, but I can stand without pain. Kate has two artificial hips and now an artificial shoulder. Pain reduction is a primary benefit of all these procedures and it’s usually pain that leads to them in the first place.

peasantsWe often talk about folks for whom physical labor is key to their job: trades people, movers, utility workers, lumberjacks, mechanics, farmers, even physicians. Prior to joint replacement as an option, they had to suffer through the pain or stop working. Imagine what it was like on the frontier to have debilitating hip pain, a shoulder that would no longer move above a right angle, a knee that buckled under pressure. Or, in the middle ages, for peasants. Soldiers. Domestic servants.

bionicsIt’s likely, for example, that Kate’s years of lifting babies and young children led directly to the arthritis that ruined her right shoulder. That’s the Schneider hypothesis since the sort of dysfunction her shoulder displayed is most common in women.

These are life extending surgeries, making it possible to live, rather than exist. I imagine that soon bionics will be more generally available and will complement this sort of procedure, perhaps making up for atrophied muscles which are a common sequelae of joint problems. All this is part of the glass half full view of the future.



April 2018
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