Lenten Journal, Day 35
Last night I looked up into the black sky
where a silver crescent moon gave way to stars
and found the Big Dipper, that major bear,
pointing to Polaris and I felt
like a kid again
In the hours before dawn this morning
walking the dog as I usually do
I looked up again and found Orion, the hunter,
with his three-star studded belt and sword,
striding across the sky
Staying up late, arising early to see the sky
I was the science kid
who knew the stars and the planets
Walking now beneath them
I recall the joy of discovery
I greet old friends
Timeless and changeless the same stars
marched the sky in ancient Palestine
but timeless and changeless
only because of distance
their now a million years gone
locked with Jesus’ now millennia gone
locked with my now still unfolding
a kairos combination of
then and now and long ago and yet to be
as it was in the beginning
and will be forever
–– C. Eric Funston, “Stars,” 10 April 2019
Note: The illustration is from NASA: The Big Dipper Enhanced; Image Credit & Copyright: VegaStar Carpentier)
Lenten Journal, Day 34
My intention when I started this exercise in Lenten discipline was to write for an hour each morning with no preconceptions about what I would be writing. Just sit down, put a figurative piece of paper in my imaginary typewriter, and start pounding the keys. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but I have made the attempt (most days) to at least write something sometime during each 24 hour period.
Similarly, it was my intention to return to the gym (the Medina Recreation Center) this morning and do another half-hour of aerobic exercise on the recumbent crosstrainer and the indoor track. And similarly it’s not going to work out that way.
Lenten Journal, Day 33
I did it! I went to the gym this morning. How weird is that?
I went to the local Recreation Center, rode something called a “seated elliptical” or “recumbent crosstrainer” for 15 minutes (the Rec Center has the Nu-Step brand of these machines; I then walked the indoor walking track until I decided I didn’t want to overdo it and discourage myself with an injury. I needed and continue to need to do this for the on-going recovery of my prosthetic knee.
Lenten Journal, Day 30
Physical therapy. A synonymous term is “torture.” Today’s session proved that.
I am unhappy I made the decision to replace my left knee with titanium and plastic. The result is far from what I had hoped.
I don’t blame the surgeon. His work is fine. X-rays show everything is right as it should be. The scar from the incision is great, better than the one on my right leg, and there is no deficit of feeling nor any oddball itching, again better than the right leg.
No. The problem is my chronic Achilles’ tendon pain. I feared going in that my Haglund’s deformity and related bursitis would complicate recovery, but I also hoped that replacing the knee and going through the therapy afterward would benefit the ankle and foot. The fear was realized, not the hope.
Lenten Journal, Day 29
So, typical of me, I let the Lenten discipline slide and didn’t write anything in this journal yesterday or the day before. In my defense, the first day was dominated by the “prep” for a colonoscopy and yesterday the procedure was done early in the morning; I spent the rest of the day sleeping off the Propofol used as anesthesia during the procedure.
That’s one of the drugs used in the capital punishment “cocktail,” by the way. One minute I was watching the nurse inject the stuff into my IV line; the next, I was in a different room, my wife at my bedside conversing with the gastroenterologist about radiation damage to my colon (that damage being a sequela of my treatment for prostate cancer). The rest of the day was spent mostly in a fog of unthinking, which is not the same thing as the cloud of unknowing by a long shot!
Lenten Journal, Day 25
I have put off writing my journal for the Fourth Sunday in Lent because it was “one of those days.”
“Mama told me,” the song goes, “there’d be days like this.”
I was awakened when the dog yelped in pain, really cried out, and we’re not at all sure why. It may have been that my wife in the early morning darkness stepped on his paw, though probably not. When I examined him, it seemed that his pain could be either (a) sensitive ears – he is prone to ear infections; or (b) a sensitive jaw or teeth; or (c) his neck.
Lenten Journal, Day 24
Before I met my wife, I played racquetball a couple of times a week. I backpacked and went wilderness camping in the desert with friends. I rode a 15-speed bike to work. I was a downhill skier.
Before she met me, my wife played tennis. She went camping in the mountains of northern Nevada with her family. She rode her 12-speed bike across the continental US. She was a Nordic cross-country skier.
When we dated, we talked about these activities, imagining that we would share them with one another. We never did them as a couple . . . but we talked about them.
Lenten Journal, Day 23
I linger over coffee
but I rush through eating an orange
I pour my coffee slowly and deliberately
savoring its aroma, craning my neck
to position my nose over the steam
breathing in the rich, roasted chocolate scent
earthy and acid, dark and mysterious
but I quickly peel an orange
ripping the rind from the flesh
putting asunder that which God had put together
I take contemplative sips of my coffee,
a half a mouthful at most,
meditating over its mellowness,
crispness, brightness, fruity palate, floral bitterness,
but I stuff my mouth with whole sections of orange,
sometimes two, sometimes three,
and crush them rapidly into pulpy juiciness
imagining my jaws acting like the juicer
of the lemonade vendor on the carnival midway
Lenten prayers are coffee and oranges
sometimes thoughtfully, carefully prayed,
sometimes hurried and rushed
sometimes a little of both
– C. Eric Funston, “Lenten Prayers,” 29 March 2019
I’m not preaching this week, but if I were . . .
I often read poetry as part of, and frequently as a substitute for, a homily. This is especially true on “high holy days” when the liturgy and the lessons of the lectionary speak so eloquently that the attempt at exegesis seems at best irrelevant and at worst intrusive, e.g., Good Friday or Palm Sunday. On such days, in such liturgies and with such lessons, the poets seem to get and to give the message so much better than I can.
There are two poems that I’ve used on Palm Sunday which look at the story focusing on or speaking through one of the often-ignored characters, the donkey which carried Christ into the city of Jerusalem. One is Mary Oliver’s The Poet Thinks about the Donkey in which the poet expresses her hopes for the animal. The other is G.K. Chesterton’s The Donkey in which the animal speaks for itself.