Jane Bramham: Lessons from Mom

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My mother Roberta writes memorable thank you letters. She taught me that being thankful meant finding words to express that gratitude. Today, as I return from being with Mom in California during preparation for and recovery from surgery, I am thankful for your messages of care and support: you are living into our covenant. Vice President John Bates and the other Board members moved the Board monitoring and visioning processes forward in my absence as I knew they would; I am grateful for their dedication to this work.

Mom is 91; her statement that she lived alone at home was sometimes questioned as possible evidence of dementia. Most often, however, the staff asked her what her goals were: to return to living in my home. Then together they formulated and explained the steps to get there and the changes that might be necessary. She is spending a couple of hours a day in the gym at the post-acute care hospital doing exercises familiar to any workout: rows, biceps curls, standing arm raises. Her occupational therapist Peter explains each one—both how to perform the move and in what specific way this helps her reach her independence. As your UUCA Board we are listening to discern your goals for our life as a congregation so that together we can name the programs and actions that will lead us to that vision of ourselves.

We belong to UUCA with hopes of feeling connected and deepening relationships. Part of Mom’s identity is her professional one as a dietitian and volunteer of thousands of hours in the hospital library. The dietary staff recognized her knowledge and treated her as a colleague. She in turn asks the staff about themselves. Thus she who believes she can’t meet new people well has in a week’s time made strong, positive connections to a place she never thought she could stand to be. Let’s all seek to know others in our congregation better.

The minister of the church I grew up attending preached last Sunday on faith and fear.  He contrasted safety as those things which protect us from harm to security as a sense of freedom from worry about harm. There were lots of safety measures evident in Mom’s medical care:  marking the correct leg for surgery, double-checked identity bands, wide belt around her during therapy. But her sense of security came from the kind and caring people.

When we personally or as a society focus on measures to make things safe, devising mechanisms and writing laws to protect us from injury, we do not necessarily feel more secure. Secure, from the Latin “without + care”, conveys a sense of freedom from anxiety, an attachment so we will not be lost. Thought of this way security has more in common with peacefulness than safety. May we then consider the connections of security and faith, how we see the world work?

Let us, as shared by Bruce Larson, think for peace this month:

Let all beings be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let the whole world experience these things.