The last few weeks have been full of INTERRUPTIONS. First we had Jay's trip to the ER in early November which led us on a journey of interrupting other people's lives as well. Jay was in overnight and so Nancy had to preach Sunday interrupting her life. Of course we needed to call close family members and put out a quick email to let folks know about it.
Jay was supposed to do a wedding the day he was having tests in the hospital on a Saturday so this all interrupted the wedding party a bit as he realized in the night he could not do a wedding if he was in the ER or hospital. Jay had done the rehearsel Friday evening before he started having "chest pains" around Midnight and had not been feeling well all day in his shoulder and arm but we kept dismissing it as a touch of the flu. Little did I know that these are signs of a heart attack which I discovered later.
I was in my PJ's and about ready for bed; so when he said he had "chest pains" it interrupted my going to bed as I quickly redressed and talked Jay into heading for the ER that cold November Friday night. I was scared and I am sure Jay was too as we interrupted the lives of our family and friends by that morning with a few calls and email. After the overnight stay and many tests that day and the ongoing month, we needed the help and support of doctors and friends as Jay went in for a stress test and a trip to the cardiologist to discover they were not sure.
It seems that there were still some questions about things even though the cardiologist at the hospital had declared he didn't think it was cardiac (coming in after the Neb game that day from Hastings) and he thought it was Pleurisy or an infection in the lining of the lungs which can be very painful as well. He said it can be either a virus or bacteria and so he would try treating it with antibiotics before we left and I knew he was tired so it seemed likely to me it was that too.
It seems like all month our life was full of INTERUPTIONS and interrupting other lives as we headed to Lincoln for a heart scan finally a month later and slept at the home of friends whose lives were interrupted by our visit on a school night with small children in their home.
The best INTERRUPTION of all though was getting the news before our THANKSGIVING trip to MO at the last minute saying that Jay's heart was ok! And it was not two sizes too small as we had joked about. So picking them up before leaving town was a GREAT INTERRUPTION that day. This whole LARGER INTERRUPTION had given us a new sense of how important our health is again, how much we all need to exercise and how important our friends and family are in emergency situations and having each other as friends that long night and day in the hospital.
Since then we have had a few other interruptions like my nasty sinus infection yesterday, my allergies and the fall I took checking my plants on the porch in the dark before taking Jeremy to the plane the week before Jay's trip to the ER. I have learned you always GO AROUND into the house and TURN ON THE LIGHT ON THE PORCH before heading up and down cement steps too!
It seems like our lives have been FULL of interruptions lately but also we have received many notes, emails, phone calls, visits, conversations that we would not have received otherwise and we have had many other good interruptions along the way.
Then a week ago when our church had the LIVING NATIVITY at Fonner Park (it's 20th anniversary by the way) I had chosen to go first to a Central Nebraska Peaceworkers meeting and potluck dinner at the church at the same time and Jay went out to help where he could. Halfway through our meeting and dinner celebrating the fifth anniversary of this group, in walked three kids from Sudan who are in the Youth group asking us if we knew where the LIVING NATIVITY was or where they could be shepherds and an angel. They had been dropped off on this cold night at the church as they didn't realize the LIVING NATIVITY was somewhere else but their ride had left aleady.
So carolyn and I had them call their parents and inform them of the problem so they would know where to get them. We found them a cell phone in the group and I could hear the youth telling his parents what had happened in another language so I asked if his parents spoke English. He said "no."
By then the whole group trying to finish the potluck dinner, was listening to us. About then we realized that they needed to be at Fonner Park to be shepherds and an angel in about twenty minutes at 6 PM. If their parents did not come SOON, they would miss it completely. So we made a decision to have Carolyn take them immediately or they would not make it at all. We also decided that I would stay to wait for family members so someone would be there to go with them and show them the way to get their children. Preparing the way and finding the way for their family to come seemed to be very important too!
So carolyn took off quickly with all three kids and then I realized that soon some parents from Sudan who did not speak English were coming to get their children and I would have to tell them somehow that their children were NOT HERE but at Fonner Park in the BARN acting out the LIVING NATIVITY!! GREAT! Of course I do not know their language either!
I stood outdoors for a while waiting and then realized it was way too cold to stand outdoors and they would surely come in... but by now the whole dinner was INTERRUPTED by what had happened and people were wondering if the three kids had eaten dinner and how we would communicate to connect with carolyn etc.
Finally a Sudanese man walked in and wanted to know where the kids were and he didn't speak much English I could tell. I tried to explain they were on South Locust at the LIVING NATIVITY and it was not HERE as they had thought. It turns out he was the UNCLE to the children and he understood enough to know we had to go.
So I bundled up and told the whole group I would be BACK SOMETIME and they would have to clean up without us. Hopefully I would get a ride back with Carolyn but by now it was nearly 6:30 PM and I wondered if Carolyn would wait for me? If not, surely I would find Jay or someone to get me back to the church to cleanup.
We went out to get in their uncle's van. As we entered, I realized for the first time that I was getting in a van with someone I did not know who I could not communicate with....... and we were heading to the LIVING NATIVITY someone in BARN if I could find it myself. He did know about South Locust it seemed that after we made it to Eddy Street the main word he knew was "STRAIGHT" so we went "straight" on Eddy as far as we could go! Then we made it to Locust nearby Eddy. As we came near to FONNER PARK I pointed out the sign and hoped he would understand. We made it around the new EVENT center after a detour through Skagway parking lot. About then I kept telling him we were going to the BARN...... he said, "the Bar?" or maybe I misunderstood him??
And I said, "no the BARN where the animals are" and then I wondered if I had really confused things. As we walked towards the "barn" I asked their uncle if he knew about the nativity waiting inside (I was hoping) with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, animals, shepherds, angels and so on? He nodded YES and seemed to understand.
We made it inside where the animals were roaming about and people were "living out" the nativity all right. Carolyn was very happy to see us in the doorway and exclaimed, "we made it and they were able to do it twice!!" We both realized at that instant that this whole big INTERRUPTION was worth it afterall. All we had to do was TRUST it would work out. The three kids were reunited with their uncle in the dressing room that was crowded with people in many various costumes and all was well finally!
So thanks to Carolyn's haste in getting them there, we had succeeded and the many interruptions that night were starting to feel a bit crazy but good inside. We were all safe and sound and they knew their way home now in their car. We headed back to the church to see if anyone was still there as we had left Christmas trees lit and the gas fireplace going at the church with a mess of dishes and food.
Sure enough, three friends were waiting at the door all bundled up and ready to go as soon as we arrived! I guess they trusted too we would return and they wanted to make sure we made it back safely. They had figured out the kitchen and had cleaned up most of the mess. So the next half hour was full of stories back and forth between us about what had happened since the INTERRUPTION. We kept telling and retelling the story as we cleaned up, turned off Christmas trees and made our way to our cars to hug as we left each other. We both knew all the crazy interruptions were worth it that night in those moments.
Once again I thought about the INTERRUPTION this had been on the way home; but it made us all more aware of this family who had come to a new land to new places. We felt some of their uncertainty but also their TRUST too. We had no idea how difficult the journey of this family had been from Sudan but we had a taste of their new life. I hoped that we had helped them somehow in their adjustments and their confusion of new places and experiences.
And I realize now how the last six weeks have been a series of crazy INTERRUPTIONS and yet many GIFTS have come to us....... and new understandings along the way. We had also learned how important community is in solving problems all along the way. And now as we are in the ADVENT season of preparation, we think of the Christ child coming into the world as a similar INTERRUPTION that became a GIFT to so many through his life journey.... to make the CROOKED STAIGHT and to give us new role models for living and loving.
And so now as I reflect, living on a Golden Pond this fall and advent season, I think of the many gifts we have received since living on this Golden Pond here in Nebraska this fall along with all the unexpected INTERRUPTIONS!
I am also reminded of Preparing the WAY for all the things coming in our lives we don't know about: the changing seasons, color, vegetation and animals....the constants and the changes -- the ebb and flow-- how the seasons are also part of the constant yet changing pattern. And how it is that the INTERRUPTIONS here on the lake --- as we head toward Christmas with loved ones and winter -- they are what we remember the most.