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The Church in Palliative Care

It's painful to write this. When someone you know and love is nearing the point when they must make decisions about the end of life as we know it, we tend to desperately desire a miracle. Pleading with God, bargaining with the Fates, raging against the machinations of a seemingly fickle existence, we pray that the disease might be taken away so that we can return to normal life. All of us know someone, maybe more than one person, who is dealing with a debilitating and (often) terminal illness. Whether cancer, motor neuron disease, Parkinson's or dementia, these painful and difficult attacks on the body push us to confront our own mortality but even more present, the mortality of those we love who are about to be moved into the dreaded realm of memory only. In times like these, the dying process can be helped by utilising palliative care where the 'aims are to give the best possible quality of life to someone who is seriously ill or about to die. It helps people live life as
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The Bicycle Shop

A man wanted to get his bicycle fixed. There was something wrong with the gears - they wouldn't switch properly and they kept catching so that his foot kept slipping and he was tipping over. Years ago (it had been many years since the bike had a tune-up) the man took the bike to a repair shop in the city. The repairman had done such a good job: not only were the gears lubed and rusty parts exchanged, but the brakes worked without screaming and tire tubes were replaced and inflated. "I'll go back there," the man said and loaded up his bike in the car. When he reached the address, the man pulled the bicycle from the car and wheeled it up to the front door where he noticed a large sign written in block letters on the door: Moved to 371 1st Street - great new location! Sorry for the inconvenience, but thank you in advance for your business! The man was very frustrated. He'd stuffed his bicycle into the back end of the car, he'd driven all the way into the city and

Leaving Offense: Three Ways to Live a Life Free of the Chains of Offense

My daughter, Josephine, went to the Post Office the other day. As she stood in line, socially distanced, waiting to top up her MetroCard, she noticed that the attendant was a conversationalist. Because conversation in public is on the endangered list, Josephine took the time to have a chat. Here is a recap of the interaction (as best as I can write it down from Josephine's descriptions). Post Office Employee: Good morning! How are you today? Josephine: Very good, thank you. A beautiful morning outside today. POE: Wonderful. Now, what are wanting to do today? Josephine: I'd like to top up my MetroCard. POE: (typing in the computer) So you go into the city a lot? Josephine: I'm at university. POE: What are you studying? Josephine: Chemical engineering. POE: Wow. Not many girls in that, are there? Josephine: (stays quiet but grinds her teeth and smiles) POE: Are you passing? Now, everyone person who reads this, or even hears the story, has already had the narrative prepared in

The Wild Silence

There is a place on the Onkaparinga River, just past the chattering rapids, just beyond the clamouring spindrifts where the currents and the cataracts copulate, where the water makes no noise. Most hikers do not spend much time in this silent place. Their eyes, ears and thoughts are on far busier vistas - perhaps waterfalls around the next corner, or billowing trees swinging in the wind. No, most people do not pause at the still place where the eddies have turned and flipped making it seem as if the river is running backwards. I wondered to myself at that moment why we don't stop in these quiet places. Is it because we are so captivated by movement and sound that we cannot be bothered to stop? Or, is it because the silence speaks louder to the mortal soul, whispering, ever so slightly, that the river of time is as unstoppable as the Onkaparinga? In this wider place, the quiet seemed to catch the hands of time and slow them down, and I was grateful. I was thankful that I could find


Throughout my life I (and I'm guessing you) have encountered a lot of people who have tried to sell me something. Through this process, I've developed a pretty healthy sense of scepticism when someone says to me, 'This is not a sales call..." Yeah, right. It's not that I don't understand economics, marketing and selling, but it seems like business is so, I don't know, invasive , you know what I mean? Telemarketers, television advertisements, thousands and thousands of promotions in my email box and on the web pages I visit. Heck, supposedly my phone is listening to me (that is so weird to write) to eavesdrop so that businesses can get a headstart on what kinds of things I might buy. This is frustrating beyond belief. I've come to a point in my life when I'm pretty happy with the things (and the amount of things) that I've been fortunate enough to place into my house, but every time someone tries to see me something, I get this... itch that I ca

The Wrestler

The foam mat was semi-squishy, kind of like my nerves.  After lacing up my high top shoes, donning my plastic ear guards and turning to my coach who was doing his best to pump me for the match, I noticed that his enthusiasm lacked authenticity. His smile kind of hung lopsided on his chin and his eyes had kind of a cringy look, as if he was already thinking a little further into the future. You see, I was an undersized, underdeveloped, frightened twelve-year-old wrestler who wanted to be doing anything - anything at all, even homework, or the dishes - than facing off in a spandex singlet grappling with another twelve-year old, underdeveloped and frightened boy.  It was the last match of the year. I had participated in seven of these contests. Pretty much after the first one I wanted to quit, but quitting was not acceptable in the Matthias family. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. But the coach's reservations about my abilities were real: I had won one match.

Singing Home

It was hard not to have a tear. It's even harder to distinguish whether the tear had materialized because of sadness or joy, because both are found in equal proportion. I heard people singing this morning. Sure, I hear music on the radio. I hear heavily manipulated voices resonating beautifully, reverbed to perfection, highlighted by dulcet backing vocals. These songs play well through speakers and I tap my hands on the steering wheel to the beat. But nothing compares to human voices surrounding you in unison, singing the song of home. We had staff devotions and prayer at the school this morning. The staff, lead by a group of teachers, sang songs of hope, songs of lament, songs of joy as they were designed. I wasn't really prepared to be moved by it, nor was I completely aware of how much I missed it. I realized that I'd taken group singing for granted. Throughout history, people have always sung, and they've done this for a variety of reasons. Recently, mos