AUGUST 10, 2018

Thirty Years or Three Months?

Dear Church,

Does it feel like thirty-years or three months?  That was the question I posed to Rich and Monty Riddering as we sat together in the “Pub Area” of the Symphony Rehabilitation Facility in Dyer, IN (yes, a rehab place has a pub area complete with beer taps and a piano for live music!).  Rich and Monty have been on a three-month journey with one health challenge after another.  In the last three months, Rich spent only one-half night at home and was admitted to three different hospitals (one of which was an international hospital in St. Lucia that had all of eighteen rooms and livestock wandering around the hospital grounds).  He also enjoyed a ride in a beautiful new ambulanceJ.

Rich and Monty had originally set out to St. Lucia for their granddaughter’s destination wedding.  Before leaving, Rich said he just didn’t feel himself, but thought it was more of a “mind over matter” sickness and that he’d be fine.  Well, turns out he wasn’t fine.  In fact, lurking deep within Rich’s body was an infectious cyst that was slowly leaking poison into his body.  When the doctors at the University of Chicago finally figured out what was causing Rich all these problems and prohibiting him from getting any better, they charted an aggressive course of antibiotics and physical therapy.  That was a month ago.

Through it all, Rich’s wife Monty has been by his side. She’s thankful Rich is finally closer to their home making her commute a little easier.  Sitting with the Ridderings is a joy.  Their laughter is contagious, so much so that we all agreed that laughter is one of God’s great medicines for the body and soul.  And, if you know the Ridderings, their sense of humor has been passed down to their adult children, Kim and Rick aka “the Riddler.” So, when I asked them if it felt like thirty-years or three-months, they immediately said, “more like thirty-years!” I can imagine that after three-months of hospital food, therapy sessions, the annoying “beeping” noises going off at all hours of the day, that Rich is indeed looking forward to being home. And I can imagine that after three months of excursions through parking lots, trying to parse out “doctor-language,” and be an advocate for Rich, who sometimes has his hearing aids in and sometimes he doesn’t, Monty too is eager for him to come home.

Sometimes time goes by slow.  Most of the time, it goes by really, really, fast.  We blink and we just celebrated communion reminding us another first Sunday of the month has passed.  I saw a thing on the news where some stores are already putting out Halloween candy?!  And Willem, who turns seven today, started school this past Tuesday.  Yes, time goes by really fast.  And while I’m sure Rich and Monty would much rather have time fast-forward through the last three months, perhaps even in the more challenging times, we should slow down and be more present and in the moment.  Enjoy the taste of fresh sweetcorn picked earlier in the day.  Enjoy the thirty minutes before bedtime to go out and play catch with your kids.  Enjoy the kindness of a spouse or the smile of a friend.  Enjoy the health and freedom to watch the news or read the paper.  Enjoy the quiet space each morning before the frenzy of each day.  

Don’t you think, that often, we’re looking ahead, planning ahead, and preparing for the future?  Friends, time flies fast enough.  Slow down and enjoy today.  My guess is there are gifts from God waiting for each of us to enjoy today.  Gifts that we are usually too busy or distracted to enjoy.  Gifts that are perhaps far more important than big trips or work projects or the end of a long round of radiation.  Good things for today.  So, go ahead and keep an eye open for one of those gifts today.  You just might be surprised what you experience.  Take it from Rich and Monty, three-months feels a lot more like thirty years.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt