Sunday, November 27, 2016

Our Experience with Cancer Part 1

A few months ago, my parents informed our family that my father had a rare, incurable form of leukemia that affects people by increasing the white blood cell production from  the bone marrow.

It was a shock but we were blessed with a notion of time in years before the disorder would run its course.

A few months pass after that and we recognize that despite the new powerful medicines, Dad was taking on a lot of fluid, and his belly was ballooning.  After a few discussions, we convinced him to visit with the doctor.  They went to visit with the specialist at the VA and the doctor decided to pull some of the fluid out of his body for tests and admit him for more tests throughout the following weekend.

To be honest, this put my mother at bit of ease because she did not have to watch him at home with no idea of what to do.  Whatever it was, we hoped to get an answer and he was in the care of the VA hospital. They gave Dad several treatments to help get better Xrays, MRI and CAT scans; some that made him essentially be chained to the toilet for hours to do this "cleansing." On Tuesday afternoon following that weekend, we were summoned to a meeting with the doctors to get a prospective or diagnosis of what they learned over the past few days.

The news trickled over our ears as we patiently tried to understand the terminology and diagnosis they were giving.  The prognosis changed from years to months. I could feel the anxiety in the room just flow as the doctors took turns describing what they were finding.  (His tests were not done yet either.) They finished their analysis and a Catholic priest from the local parish happened to walk into Dad's room. Dad and Father start talking.  I and mother found a reason to excuse ourselves from the room. We were both in a bit of shock as the gravity of the news started weighing. Stage 4 carcinoma and months and it is spreading- they want to do more tests - do not know the source - radiation was not an option and chemotherapy may not be as well. What do you with a death certificate that is pre-dated and nothing to do or say about it??.

After making a couple calls to some family members, we found ourselves in a bit of disbelief. mother and I went to the chapel area while Dad spoke with Father.  We couldn't hold it and both cried together as we were trying reckon what information was just given to us.

The doctors proceeded to keep him for a couple more days and found even more cancer and tuned the prognosis from months down to "weeks."  So within a short time, we had a bucket list to be accomplished within 5 years narrowed to a small window of a few weeks. Perhaps the doctors were wrong again about the time.  As far as Dad was concerned, he looked at Oct 20 at his and mother's anniversary date for a target.

In memoriam - Ernest Hansen

Today (Nov 26) we gave full military honors, tribute and tears to our best servant, my dad Ernie Hansen. He heard the call and answered (Isaiah 6:8) He served his wife, his country, his family, his patriots, his friends and God. He passed the torch to us. May I, and his family, be always worthy of his example and follow his service. With faith, honor, duty and love, we commend him to You, our Redeemer. 

May God shine light upon him with grace always and bless and keep his wife, my mother, Rose, now and always. May peace be with him and mother on this journey and know that we do not need to be afraid, thanks to your work Dad (Hebrews 13:1-6:18-19) We ask our Lord to make way for him with the light and the path to Your arms. (We will play a couple rounds of euchre next time see each other.)

Monday, November 21, 2016

When the Phone Rings

When the Phone Rings
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
21 Nov 2016

Ever get that awkward anticipation,
That feeling of sudden wonder,
something’s amiss here.
Suddenly, the phone rings.
It’s an odd ring, weird, scary even 
with bell tower chimes in the distance.

A familiar voice is on the other end.
Don’t get alarmed but the prospects are not good.
how does one reconcile that?
For whatever that prospect is, 
the alarm was long wasted. 

Now, the pondering of the things left to say, 
the words forgotten, 
forgiveness yet to give,
a next project on the list, 
wild vision of worlds yet to live.

With this call, someone tossed a rock through the bedroom window
Shattering the peaceful pane into a gruesome mess of cutting shards
And now who gets to deal with this and why me.

As the call completes, the task is to collect oneself
Sweep up the shards knowing
A real task is on the horizon.
Trying to understand what is happening
Trying to determine where to be and when to be there
Are supplies needed? 
a backpack, a pillow, a toothbrush, faded picture, 
What to do with the broken glass?
Don’t forget the pot on the stove.

Do I call someone else and invite them to the prospect?

When the phone rings,
Another familiar voice arrives;
With a quiver, we invite them into the prospect.
There are pauses as words are framed.
The question is beckoned, “Are you ok?”

With hesitation to counter, 
Niagara Falls does not have enough water to describe the number of tears that flow. 
Through the flood of emotions and floating courage, 
the prospect is shared.
This voice was reassuring and consoling.
T’was Time to pick up the pieces.
After the heart-felt conversation, a return to life considering.

Time to plan moves and needs.
the plan is flexible and aided by thoughts of goodwill from many
A thought arises, “we can make it,”
even beyond the horizon.

When the phone rings,
Another voice, similar to the first, is heard. 
The conversation is concerning and intense again.
A big shudder as a layer of hope is ripped away.

Despite setbacks, 
and with plans in motion, 
space for developments is found
shaping them in the corner of the room
sculpting with a great mound of clay.

When the phone rings, 
Another friendly voice to help with the molding.
There were laughs from many days gone past.
A mutual encounter is booked and 
The shape form is continued
Not really knowing what the outcome is going to be,
moving the clay around with curves and edges.

A leathered book was placed next to the clay
one full of wisdom and sayings for people walking and wondering.
Curious what purpose brought this here.
Open to a page, read of gardens and boats. 

When the phone rings,
Palpitating, sweating and dreary to answer.
It rings louder, yelling to be understood.
Unsteady and decidedly, another voice is played.
Another layer of hope is torn. 
The results came back and they found more.

Nothing tastes good.
not much to soothe the hurt.
They will try this and that, 
but success is not an option.
The prospect is nearer.

Damn it, why did I answer?

Back to the plan and the clay is forming.
There is room here for some plants. 
Potted chrysanthemum should do fine 
For texture, color, and ease,
to complement the changing mold.

Our mold has got smaller somehow.
The edges look familiar;
the shape is beginning to show.
Inscriptions on the form appear.
Toned, eerie whispers surround.

The phone rings,
Trembling and shaking, 
the friendly voice returns to relieve.
The prospect is not today, not yet,
And so let’s propose another social 
To regale of those memories and plays
With sips of love, dance and bonding of joyful tables.

The mold is recognizable and forming before the eyes;
can almost hear the circles and piece come into harmony;
can almost pick up the sculpture.
Yet, the potted bloom is tired.
Page of book turned to exile and return. 

When the phone rings,
Questioning, timing, fearing, exhausting.
It summons and trumpets loudly- almost screaming. 
The solemn voice, the prospect is near.
Weight is down, pain is up.
The smell of the body wasting.
Tend to your affairs.
Hope is but a dash. 
Nothing more will be done.

The mold is cast and real.
I can pick it up, cradle it, hold it close
Splendid plan in display
Flower in slow decay.
Book is pulled to remaining verses 
Many stars, a dragon, horsemen, scores of people.
Holding it and looking

Then it rings.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What a Dream!

Wow What a Dream!
Tony E Dillon-Hansen

Sermon based upon Isaiah 6:1-8

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.

Picture This…

You see the LORD— crowned and covered with a velvet coat on BIG throne floating over us on clouds with many angels around having a BALL singing praises

The LORD leaned over to you, yes to you, and closed your eyes and said your sins are forgiven. Are you humbled?

The LORD then prompted your chin to look and asked, “Whom Shall I send?”

For me, like Dory from Finding Nemo, I excitedly raise my hand and say “Pick me!!” — Did you feel like Dory?

Did you envision God, what did you see? Were you asked anything else? What did you say?

This image was among the first that I had of God from my youth.  Of the 66 chapters of Isaiah, we get to read about this BIG image of God. This becomes a well-worn image that has been used to describe God through to this day.  

It is also note-worthy that in the tradition and time of Isaiah, the temple was normally closed to people, and there is much speculation of what happened behind closed curtains.  Yet in this exciting image, the curtains were suddenly “thrown open” into full view of an amazing spectacle, quite similar to what happens when Jesus dies.  

The tribute and adoration of this dream bring strength and calm to Isaiah. In this point of the book of Isaiah, we see Israel in a time of great prosperity, the prophet relays awe, a confession, thanks, and wonder through this dream.  Isaiah is called to serve.

When have you been called to service? This seems typical of my life that I get pulled into doing things whether I meant to raise my hand or not.  Has this happened to you?  An auction maybe?  

Many moons ago, I met with friends and colleagues about putting together a festival of celebration for the community. We talked about what we wanted and how we wanted it.  There were some grand ideas and good conversation until someone asked, “who is going to lead this?” 
The silence was penetrating, but I mentioned something about experience working on festivals before (Not leading them, but working on them).  Guess what?  Like a goofy gloat, I did not see the rest of the people step back from the line.  I became that person.  Incidentally, I learned a bunch during the time leading that effort, but it was a work in progress.  We pulled it off, we were not sure if we were going to, but we did.

When have you been called to service?  For all of the veterans, military and civilian protection, let us give praise and thanks for the service and respect for those whom gave their costliest sacrifice.

In this text, Isaiah is being called to service in a time of political turmoil. Isaiah says he is unworthy. We see God forgiving and purifying the prophet after the heartfelt confession.

Now, how are we called to service you may ask? According to Jesus, we are called to service many times in our lives.  Are you ready to serve and are you ready to answer?

When you support your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your country, somehow, you get to help with something you never imagined. You learn from it, you grow from it, and sometimes you create some fond moments! What do you say to these requests? Were these not moments when the Lord asked for you to say, “Here I am!” ?

A friend needs help, your dad finds out he has cancer, your child is hurt in an accident, or a tornado goes through town. What do you say to these? I may not be worthy of You, but “Here I am! and Lord, how can I help?”  Were you afraid?

When the Lord called upon me, I was awakened but afraid.  What are you asking of me and why me? Yet, the call is real and it is time to answer, “O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

When you were called by the Lord, what did you say? Did you recognize the face, the voice, or the ideas?  What did you do? 

O Lord, we may not be worthy to receive you, but only say the word so that we can be healed.

Lets come back to this dreaming, There was a Great Dream…

That one day, our lives would be peaceful, without war and un-tempted to shed more blood.

This was a great vision that we would not be suspicious of each other and instead live in harmony.

This was a Great dream that we would raise the flags together and commemorate the grace of our country and community— in blue states and red states alike with hands connected together as the community of this great country;

In this dream, we would not yield to divisive politics, not yield to racists gestures, nor be blind to inequality but instead in this dream, understand our common humanity and work together— to walk the path together;

In this dream, we would provide shelter and call on Isaiah for fair justice of all of our brothers and sisters no matter where their ancestors called home;

In this dream, we would be able to share our many scriptures as equals and not condemn others for reading something else;

In this dream, our differences would be our greatest strengths for today and inspire our futures to carry the torch that was passed to us.

Have you see this vision too? Have you believed this too?

Yes, there is a great dream that God gave us everything we needed, and we gave thanks every time.

There is a great dream that God smiled upon us and blessed us with life and liberty that no one could take away— Not today, not tomorrow, not ever! No one can take away our God-given liberty.

There is a great dream that the Spirit saved us from insolent pettiness and wildernesses of despair to give us hope and a path to success.

That Great Spirit helped us let go of the chains that held down our community and gave us wings to soar beyond repression. We will not be held down when we have been granted so much by our Creator. 

In that Great dream, we were saved from almost certain doom. And, we were given the light and assurance to go forth and to believe in what we can be.

Again have you seen this vision too?  Have you felt it? If you have, that Spirit is working in you too.

That Great Spirit has called us to serve and to provide for our community. We do not have look with dreariness anymore because we can have hope and know that the guiding Spirit is with us always. 

Thanks Be to God.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Prayer to Overcome Divisions

Should I be scared or should I walk among the proud who play by the books and respect each and have love for family and foe alike? Should I walk among those who give disrespect? Should I be scared to worry about life that has taken a turn?  Should I cry the victory was not mine and cry fowl? Should I be unfaithful? Should I be with no hope and lost?

No I say!  The Spirit that guides is always here and by every side, not just the winners versus losers. The Spirit knows all struggles and is prodding us to find our way wherever we are on life's journey as a person or as a country. We may not understand why, but we are granted access to this infinite Wisdom that can carry us both friend and foe. Maybe, this is time to reach across and to hug someone from another culture, like Jesus did. Maybe, this is time to embrace our loved ones when security feels so frail. Maybe, this time we learn from assuming we are always right. Maybe, we comfort each other as people of faith, of love and of our country. Let us be at rest and find faith in our community and our Redeemer to help us through anguish, division and pain. Let us also work to find that faith and strength to struggle on for equality, fairness, and safety for all, with compassion and our Loving Creator's love being with and around us.