Journaling Again?

Well, here we go again. I am intending to establish a journaling pattern. I started my “autobiography” on a different blog, (Life and Times of T. Smith) but am feeling a need to do more examining of current thoughts and review of much earlier journaling efforts.

This is mainly due to a feeling of frustration, impatience, etc. in our situation right now. By “our” I mainly mean my but some of this includes Judy. It is frustrating to see Judy want to become more involved in Arts and Crafts, Music, and Bible Study here at Shoreview Senior Living (SSL), but to see her become very tired and frustrated herself in the attempts. She seems to be more successful in working with Bible Study but that is also very tiring and more frustrating for me as different understandings of the passages and background on my part are elicited, but they are too “liberal,” or academic for the group. This dissonance with “the group” is a large part of my frustration.

Of the 130 or so residents here at SSL, I can only identify one person of color. Mohon, a civil engineer  who worked mainly in New Jersey, who is in “Memory Care.” In addition, the majority of residents are Roman Catholic ( I suspect mainly of the pre-Vatican II persuasion) or relatively conservative Lutheran. There are a number of strongly “pro-Trump” residents and from VERY brief comments mainly “overheard” (Politics is not a topic discussion heard very often) there are very few who would share many of my environmental, economic, etc. views. In addition, most of the residents seem to be from the Twin Cities area who have done very little travel outside of Minnesota.

These reactions/feelings (much more than extended knowledge) came to the forefront yesterday at a “Food Committee,” which invites all residents on a monthly basis to talk with the Cook regarding meals. There were a few legitimate suggestions that were at least somewhat related to most residents. However, much of the almost 1 hour was taken up by individual complaints such as “I don’t like plain broccoli. Can’t we have a sauce o it, like Alfredo.” This was followed by a number of people describing how much they liked plain broccoli and a few saying how much they liked American cheese poured over it. This went on for a number of minutes. Another person said how much they liked liver and it was a favorite growing up. Then ensued a lengthy session on whether it was “calf’s liver” or “cow’s liver”” and how their mother used to fix it, with a number chiming in how much they would not eat it. Very little relationship was made for most of the discussions on the actual menu items served in the dining room.

I “know” that I should be patient with some of the residents who need a “social time,” but it seemed that the great majority of the time was taken by only 2 or 3 residents, there were almost 20 people there, who talked about their one wants and feelings. It is this latter attitude that is most frustrating in that the individuals are ones who make comments regarding how much they are just “trying to help,” but monopolize any  discussions with what they feel is best.

My reaction to many of the 80 year old, or so, residents is similar to my reaction to young children. I recognize that the “parallels” are recognizable. However, there are some traits and attitudes which bother me beyond the childlike nature of interactions.  What actually prompted me toward putting down my feelings along these lines was the sermon that was preached at the SSL Thanksgiving worship on Monday. The husband of the Activity Director in Senior Pastor at a nearby Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. His sermon was based on the healing of the 10 lepers with the Samaritan leper being the only one to give thanks to Jesus. His main talking point was how the lepers had to keep their distance much as the way in which we tend to keep Jesus at a distance. If we are thankful and recognize the gifts from God then we can draw near to God/Jesus. There is some validity in this and for the most part I could agree with his points. One of his “side comments” as he described was trying to make the message “current.” His main point along these lines was with our “excuses” for not taking time to attend worship or to read scripture while finding time to attend our grandchildren’s games or visiting others. These were seen as “keeping a distance from Jesus.” However, my main thought along drawing near to Jesus was in seeing Jesus  in the poor, hungry, oppressed, and imprisoned, as well as the refugees and homeless. The refugees would have seemed to be very relevant in that the “thankful leper” was a Samaritan, about as close to a “foreign refugee” as you could get in Galilee 2,000 years ago. However, this probably would be too “political” for his hearers.

I am unclear on how often I will attempts to record my thoughts and am struggling with my impatience and frustration with typing and trying to think of the right words due to my “age” (not a good excuse/reason) or rather more my “mini-strokes” and idiopathic autonomic and polyneuropathy which requires that I actually watch each stroke on the keyboard since I cannot “feel” or “know” where my fingers are going without watching them.



Giving Up or Carrying On?

Recently I have mentioned to several people that I am trying to”give up.” I am trying to understand my own rationale and why I am so discouraged. My neurologist, who has worked with me and my idiopathic neuropathy for 5 years, asked if I was contemplating “ending my life.” I answered “No,” but was finding it difficult to imagine what life would be like in 5-10 years if the neuropathy and several other health concerns continued to “slowly progress/deteriorate.” I have 2 or 3 “serious” medical conditions and a significant number of minor issues, literally from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. The limitations in getting out and about, to our grandkids’ activities, visiting our kids, which would require travel, to Friends Meeting, shopping, etc. are continuing to increase.  I am continually assessing how different parts of my body are feeling. My chest – heart conditions are major problem; my neck – stenosis and alignment are warnings about damage of any “accident”; my vision – macular degeneration, etc.; numbness and lack of proprioception in legs, feet, and hands raises concerns with driving and mobility in general; plus other issues are “constant” concerns.

However, of even more concern are my mental and emotional state. When I say I am trying to “give up,” I really am thinking of my sense of author-ity and response-ability that has been with me most of my life. From an early age, I was expected to use my innate intelligence and talents to help other people and to challenge myself to use these for a ‘”better” world for myself and others. For the last few years I do not feel that I have “authored” much or been able to “respond” as much as I would like to or feel that I need to. Recognizing that at 71 AND with my limitations, I am unable to do as much as I want is what I mean by “giving up.” The feeling of guilt in not doing all that I was capable of has been with me for all of my life that I remember. It was never much of a “fear,” although at times in my career and personal life, fear has been present in dealing with some relationships. My father tried to instill in us that there was a “stoplight” that he tried to follow. Red-Fear should never be used. Yellow-Guilt should be used only with much caution. Green-Love should always be seen as our motive to go forward.

I find that Love is still a major motive to move forward with our children and grandchildren, but there doesn’t seem to be much other actions that I can take to move forward. I am trying to give up guilt for not being able to do what I would like to do. I am trying to give up fear of what is yet to come. My greatest fear is of reaching the point that I can’t help my loved ones and becoming a burden fiscally and physically on my loved ones.

I am restarting this blog to help me come to terms with my own musings even if, and maybe because, no one else hears this. It is my hope that I will continue to grapple with my past in hope that it will help me get through to what is yet to come.

Choices for Friends Meetings

A Friends pastor who had been Supt. of Indiana YM and Jamaica YM as well as a pastor in Indiana YM, Wilmington YM and North Carolina YM (FUM) wrote the following about  40 years ago. This was in the notes that he left and probably not meant for publication. (As a disclaimer he was my father, Logan Smith):


1. Be a Community Church with no clear call to a distinctive Discipleship.
a) Maybe talk about traditional doctrines of Friends, but not require any of them.
b) Say nothing but what a Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist would say except – we are part of FUM, instead of a conference, synod, etc.
c) This is definitely the trend, in my opinion.
2. Call for a distinctive membership. Let those who do not adhere go, seek those from other denominations who accept these views. This would be very hard work and apparently would fail. Even if it succeeded it would probably be on one or two points – silence, pacifism, simplicity or some other item.
3. Be a small group harping on our past and trying to preserve it.
4. Try to choose a group to join with and be swallowed up by it.
5. Graciously disperse, advise the Baptist to go to the Baptists, Nazarenes to the Nazarenes, Unitarians to Unitarians. Those who just want a church to go to, go to the best one in the community to make it better. In some few cases where Friends are the best community Church, be just that – a good community church or carefully select another denomination and be a congregation of that denomination.

There are more “Quakers” not members of the Society than in the Society. There are probably more “Quakers” in the Methodist Church than in the Society. No doubt true of United Church of Christ.

The FUM is too costly an adventure just to be sort of a clearing center for a group of community churches or a group of tradition loving secularized groups calling themselves Friends Meetings.”