Archives for posts with tag: Inclusive Ministry church

 

After seven and a half years of work, it was time for Luna, my ninth Seeing Eye dog to hang up her harness.  She was almost ten and feeling less confident about jumping into cars for rides and over snow piles to get us through Midwest winters.  I’ve had Seeing Eye dogs for 46 years (over half the school’s 90 year history) and plan to make the fifty year club.

I went through the application process, including a medical exam and a tuberculosis test and took a walk with a roving instructor to determine my needs.  I’m slower than eight years ago, but still able to work a dog.

I was lucky enough to find the perfect retirement home for Luna, a retired couple south of town with a black Lab and years of raising guide dog pups in their history and two acres of fenced area for Luna to explore.

As I begin to pack and get ready to spend nineteen days in New Jersey, friends stop by to wish Luna and me well on our journeys. They bring treats for Luna and M&Ms and puzzles to fortify me and occupy my mind while traveling.  Luna is blessed at her last Inclusive Ministry Church to help the participants understand that she is retiring and not dying even though I’ll be appearing with a new dog in a couple months.  My retirement wishes for Luna are Facebooked as follows:

Happy Retirement Luna!

Thank you for leading me through seven and a half years of public speaking, community service and the fun of life in retirement. You’ve been a scamp—remember trying to pick the pocket of beloved Fr. Klemick! You are an astute diagnostician, smelling my front end and back end when I’m sick to determine how much cuddling I need.  You’ve made me laugh and remember to appreciate the little things in life like lying in the sun and the last bite of pizza crust.

Bless your new family with your love, humor empathy and intelligence.

By guiding them in knowing they and you are beloved creatures.  Enjoy your new adventures and don’t forget to be in touch!

Love,

Kathie

Because each Seeing Eye dog has taught me so much about life, as well as guiding me safely, this trip seems like a pilgrimage to get a new guide for the next few years of my life in both the concrete and the spiritual senses of the word guide. It’s sad because of the goodbye to the close relationship with Luna, and scary and exciting to see who I meet.  I’ve downloaded several pilgrimage books so I can compare mine with theirs.  Let the journey begin!

The theme of the Inclusive Ministry church this month was the rainbow that God gave Noah after the flood as a sign to all of us that He is with us.  I started thinking about how I would explain the rainbow to one of our worshipers who is autistic and blind. I’ve never seen a rainbow myself and just dealt with it enough to know the colors in order and learn its shape so I don’t sound ignorant living in a sighted world. But as I thought more about it, it began to bother me: God gave this sign to sighted people, what did he give to us blind folks? The answers I’ve come up with so far are the feel of sunshine after a storm, soft breezes and the sound of a chorus of different birds all singing after the storm.

I was reminded of God’s generosity through the generosity of a friend that bore fruit this week.  When I turned seventy I got a big box of silly stuff from a friend including lots of raisins.  I re-gifted them to another friend who also turned seventy and was having knee replacement surgery. I suggested they’d help keep her regular and she reported back that indeed they worked! Only those of you who have been stopped up after surgery will truly know what a gift this was!

The gift from God that Luna’s presence in my life has been over the last seven years is coming to an end.  She’s having more trouble jumping in and out of cars and her work is uncertain some of the time. She’s nine and a half, so about retirement age. I’ve completed application forms, including a tuberculosis test and medical forms. I’ve found a fine potential home for her with a huge fenced yard and another Lab for company. Now I’m in line for a Seeing Eye instructor to visit and walk around with me to determine my needs. Somehow I’m guessing I’ll get invited to school in the January class.  Many people don’t consider New Jersey in January to be their top choice, but I’ll go with it because at least we’ll practice walking in the snow before returning to Wisconsin in the winter.  I’ve retired and retrained with New Dog many times, but it doesn’t get any easier.  Even though I’ll be able to visit Luna, I’ll miss her constant intuitive, intelligent and teasing presence.  I’ve talked to the pastor of the IM services and she will get a send off in one of those services as befits one of God’s beloved creatures.

 

The first year of Inclusive Ministry church focused on God loves us. When it came time for the core team to lead in August, I jumped at the chance to take our content to the next level of: God loves us and expects something out of us in response. IM believes all have things to give, so I decided that all should have a part in crafting the sermon.

I did a lot of background reading on the ten commandments to try to figure out how to approach rules like “Thou shalt not commit adultery” at a level that would be understood by a varied audience; age range seven to seventy-plus with varying abilities and disabilities. I picked out five commandments and wrote a discussion question for each one.  When it came time for the sermon, I gave a general intro and then called on the table leaders to summarize the discussion from their table. Folks at the table could also show their art work to the group. For example, the “no other gods” table made pictures of other possible gods including the Green Bay Packers (as opposed to spending time on church activities.) The “thou shalt not kill” tables talked about alternatives to killing like walking away, counting to ten, etc. I covered the more abstract ones including adultery which I summarized as “Don’t have sex except with the person you’re married to” in case you’re curious.

We had a bit of the summer camp theme since it was August and the chief cook even brought two different s’more bars for our cookies to top off the meal.  Because of all the volunteers who took time out of their summer Sunday afternoons to help, serving as table leaders, greeters, music leaders and kitchen workers, it was a great day.  I kind of doubt that either of the pastors who were there helping out will try group sermons at their churches, but it worked!  The head cook almost had to multiply the loaves and fishes because of all the participants who showed up, but she did it the traditional way and sent a volunteer to the store for more hot dogs and buns.

We are the church together! We sang together, worked on the sermon together, ate and enjoyed each other’s company. People helped each other. I wish all churches had this feel.