Life Lessons Learned

For three weeks in December and the first week in January I was unable to go serve in the city, because I was sick with MRSA and the allergic reactions to the antibiotics used to fight it. The fifth week, I went, but someone else made the soup and I rode shotgun, under priest’s orders. It is ‘community’ MRSA. It breeds and gets stronger in homeless shelters and prisons. I probably picked it up because I had an unprotected scratch on the back of my neck from wood chips flying during icon production. Then I got a sweaty arm around the neck from one or more of our diners who was showing his thanks and affection.

This was my second outbreak. The first one was in late October, but it was misdiagnosed and treated with an antibiotic that temporarily subdued it, but made it stronger.

I was tired and unable to think straight much of the time. It was a busy time for “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art. I was only functional for about 4 hours per day. Thankfully, I was able to hire my neighbor, Michael, to do most of the edge painting and cleaning up of icons, and running errands. Also Nick Morelli helped me for a few days. I would mount the icons in the morning, then fall asleep while attempting to work on the computer; then go back out to the barn to pack the icons; then come back in to label them for mailing. It was the first Christmas in nine years in business that I had no customers who were upset or disappointed because we did not meet their reasonable time constraints. Thanks guys! You saved Christmas!

I’m a little fuzzy on who drove to the city in my stead which weeks to feed the homeless (and they don’t want to be named here, anyway). I made the soup three of the weeks, but chose simpler kinds.

Service was not interrupted. This demonstrated practically what I have believed for many years theoretically: No man is indispensible. It is hubris to think one cannot be replaced.

On Theophany, two friends from out of town called me, independently of one another, to make sure I was still alive. One told me it would ruin his feast day if I died. I assured him that, for him, I would try to stay alive. To quote Fisher Stevens’ Indian character in Short Circuit, “With friends like this, who is needing enemas?” I had so many people checking up on me and praying for me, it was truly a blessing. I was reminded: I have many people who love me and want me to be and do well.

In the middle of this ordeal, Fr. Noah asked me what I was learning from it. I recalled to him a quote I memorized in 1973. I was confused on the source, (I’m blaming that on the drugs I was on.) but the quote was right. Robert Murray McCheyne was a Scottish minister who was determined to give his all to preaching the gospel. As he lay dying at age 29, he said to his friend: “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.” The lesson: I need to pace myself and take better care of myself.

I am now allergic to four classes of antibiotics, so the plan from now on is to avoid getting sick. Thank you all for your prayers and concern.