Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 55 of Your Year to Wellness; Giving it up

I'm Giving It Up
Tuesdays, 11:30AM – 1:30PM, Lenten Lunches, February 28 thru April 3. We offer delicious sandwiches and soup, plus outstanding desserts. Don't give up desserts for Lent, give up something that keeps you from loving your neighbor or from loving God.

I saw this add on the website for Saints Andrews and Matthews Episcopal Church in Wilmington Delaware. Ssams as it is known has a wonderful history. Two churches, one with a black congregation and the other a white one, were in danger of closing due to a reduction in the membership at both. The churches decided to merge and they have been an incredible example of the teachings of Jesus ever since. The road to outreach and love was not always easy, but I’m told that it has always been beautiful.

When I saw this announcement for Lenten Lunches my heart was filled with joy. I was joyous for the fact that there would be dessert, but even more so because members were being encouraged to make a real sacrifice; to give up anything that kept them from loving their neighbor or from loving God.
I could stop there but if you’ve been following this blog, you know that I won’t. Yesterday, I was in Minnesota for a medical work-up to be a kidney donor.

My friend Dana connected me to another friend Mary Fran who is a critical care nurse. Mary Fran walked me over to the center and escorted me through the maze of the expansive hospital. When I checked in at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, I was greeted by some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and that’s really saying something. The surgeons, physicians, nurses, social worker and technicians were all extremely competent and amazingly just down right nice. I thought maybe they had been told to be extra kind to a potential donor and then I saw the folks who needed dialysis as they came into the waiting area and I soon realized that I was not the star.

Each person was treated with dignity and good old fashioned love and I was moved to tears. I sat in the waiting area wishing that I had a few more kidneys to give out and wondering how even the folks who were so terribly sick were as nice as everyone else.

When I signed in for one procedure, a frail man walked up and asked if I was there as a donor. I told him yes and he smiled the smile of an angel, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Thank you.”
When I met with the transplant coordinator, I learned that in their system alone, there were over 600 people waiting for a donor. I didn’t want to think of how large that number became when I multiplied it across the U.S.
The social worker, a beautiful mother of two asked me why I wanted to be a donor. I told her the simple truth that my friend Annette asked if I would do it for her friend. I told her that I didn’t know of too many folks who have been given the chance to do something this incredible and I saw it as a gift.
When I came back to my hotel room I found an email from Father David of Ssam with a link to their website and there it was; “Don’t give up dessert, give up anything that keeps you from loving your neighbor and from loving God.”
So I I gave up my ego, my concern for how I might look to others and my worry for the future, oh yeah and even though it’s been very good to me, I’ll give up the kidney too.
What will you give up?
Be you, Be well, Be Free
Bertice Berry, PhD

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