Monday, November 27, 2006


I named my first child after Emily Dickinson, whose poetry is so sublime, multileveled, and dare I say quaint, that it serves as a life-long treasure, a "love." While in the hospital in October, I received a copy of her Complete Poems (i.e., all 1775 poems, not those abridged versions which claim to be "complete"), from two very dear parishioners (another love ~ agape), which I have been dipping in frequently to my delight. Today I found a poem that refers to yet another love of mine, guitars. But does it really refer to a wooden instrument? You decide.


Touch lightly Nature's sweet Guitar
Unless thou know'st the Tune
Or every Bird will point at thee
Because a Bard too soon -

Loves are like this poem ~ complicated, uncertain, confusing, but also didactic, sustaining, and what make life worth living. Does this poem restrain the amateur (another form of love ~ from the Latin amo)? Is the sweet guitar a guise for loving another, but not loving enough, or without bold declaration? Interesting words from a recluse, who loved her solitude.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I attended worship this morning for the first time since September. I found it both joyful and upsetting all at once. Someone else was in "my" pulpit, and I wasn't playing my Martin 12 string in the praise group. It is incredibly odd to be in church and not be leading worship. The man they have filling in for me did a fine job, and I am grateful for his orthodoxy and biblical views. But I'm supposed to be up there, right!? Good Calvinist that I am, I know the answer is, for now, "No." Interestingly, the pulpit supply person (not yet ordained) was laid off recently, so this pulpit supply is a financial blessing to him, and perhaps God's way of pushing him into ministry.

Now about pewsitting - I don't do it well. As doctors make the worst patients, pastors make the worst parishioners. My mind wandered a lot. I looked at my watch often. I fidgeted. I was relieved when it was over. I did like the casual, blended worship, with a simplified liturgy. I did, however, wish we sounded more like Michael W. Smith. I even found myself saying to the music director that I might try and play with the group again at Wednesday night practice. Am I insane? I, who won't eat a bagel from the store is going to get up close to potentially sick people? Not!

The bottom line is confronting the fact that things can go forward without you. One of the greatest of all ministers, Robert M. M'Cheyne, went on a short missionary journey, only to find out that a revival had broken out in his church during his absence. This happened to a man who could make men weep merely by ascending the pulpit. So who am I to complain? What matters is that I felt at home in the house of God, and missed my vocation. Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chromosomes Behaving Nicely

The doctor called yesterday to let us know my chromosomes are behaving themselves. This means that there is no evidence of leukemia at a level where they can observe one out of a hundred cells. The road ahead is now meant to smash any remaining bad things. It's long and frightening, and I've been there before. The cause of my leukemia is that chromosome 15 changed places with number 17 - why, no one knows. I would be quite grateful if they would remain where they are.

I am grateful today for my wife and daughters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. I am grateful to God for this respite, and for the the skill and science which flow from His merciful hands, and offers me hope.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the other day another woman musician whom I admire ~ my cousin Jill.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Musical Women and Such

I realized yesterday that this time of year marks the anniversary of Kate Bush's latest album, Aerial. I was also reminded that I like women singers far more than men. Women such as Jane Siberry, Claire Lynch, Emmylou Harris, Beth Orton, Karen Peris (of the Innocence Mission), Suzanne Vega, Bjork, Julie Miller, Patty Lovelace, Iris Dement, Patty Griffin, Rhonda Vincent, Sarah McLachlan, Sia, Lisa Stansfield, Tori Amos, the Dixie Chicks, and countless others currently escaping my brain. This carries over into classical music as well. I dearly love sopranos, but have little time to spend on tenors or baritones.

I am home now, for a 2-3 week break from arsenic treatments. My last biopsy revealed me to be in remission (!), but I am still waiting for the results of the cytogenetic test (what my chromosomes are up to). I am grateful for the prayers and cards and encouragement.

{photo: Canadian singer Jane Siberry}

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Site Worth Far More than Gold

One of the most influential people in my Christian life is Rev. Maurice J. Roberts. He is a minister in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), and his humility, evident godliness, and insight into the Christian faith have provided rich food for my soul. Below is a link to the website of this particularly fine denomination, with a video interview with Rev. Roberts.

There is one congregation in the U.S. which belongs to this small fellowship, but which shines its gospel light with an intense brightness. I thank God for them.

Also: I am continuing as an outpatient, receiving arsenic chemotherapy. Today I also begin to take another drug, Vesanoid, which I took five years ago. So far I feel tired, but thankful for the less devastating therapies I am receiving. I will give another update next week, after my next biopsy. God bless.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Going Home

After 36 days in the hospital, where I received excellent care by excellent people, I am going home. I am not out of the woods, by far. I have to return to CINJ on Friday to meet with Dr. Roger Strair, my oncologist. He will lay out the plan for the next two or three months. I was warned that I will be facing almost weekly bone marrow biopsy ~ think of root canal on your hip bone.
Thanks for all the many cards and prayers. Thanks also for not visiting and giving me the plague. More later....