Comment from Ken: I know some of our walks are spaced in a difficult time frame and that they are not online in a week’s time. Lately there has been a hectic schedule for Dale and for me. When autumn comes I hope I will be on a weekly schedule. As you read this walk I would like you to remember – I entered the ministry as I believed there was a place for an ordinary, average person – me.
Scripture: Verses from Psalm 22
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But You are holy,
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.
22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
It is Tuesday, and I am so happy to have you join me on my walk. I’m much better for that walk today, and in a moment, I will tell you all about it. You may not want to hear about my ills, but in all probability, I have listened to some of yours for we share a friendship together.
It has been hot and humid here in Hopkinton, and it has showered very often. We need that rain so it is a good thing. Not only that, Dale and I finished painting the two coats of paint needed on the first floor of our house and garage. The house painting was accomplished just before this inclement week. How glad we both are that the arduous task of painting our home is over. We wait now for the professional painters to come and finish the peaks of our cape home.
We still have some painting to do. We need to paint the railing (fence) around our deck, and we need to finish the deck itself. The contractor painted the deck before we purchased the house with a paint that was supposed to restore old decks. Do not buy it! It has evidently been proven not to be effective on New England decks. That’s not surprising considering the weather here. We hope to finish those tasks on a day when we have good painting weather.
Molly, our pup, is off to day care. It is really fun to watch her as we drive nearer to Peace and Paws Day Care. She sits up so straight, puts her ears forward and trembles to get out of our truck. She did so especially this morning for her dog friend Mac got out of the truck to go in to the day care just before her. She and Mac get along so well, and by the end of the day, she is exhausted. It makes for a laid back day the next day for her and for us.
This last Sunday I preached at First Congregational Church of Hopkinton. The pastor, Gordon Crouch, is so kind to me. I feel pretty elderly when I preach now for I definitely have to walk with my cane. I have always liked to wander from the pulpit, but I am tied more closely to it now. And lately, I have experienced a great deal of pain when I am walking. Now this is the part you may not wish to hear, but remember you are my friend. The pain in my hip area has been so acute that Dale has had to live with a rather grouchy critter. That is ok because she has not had an easy year, and there have been times when she has not been smiling. That again is what love and friendship is – putting up with each other when life is not going to well.
My physician recommended an orthopedic doctor, and it was determined that my hips were arthritic but the problem really rested with my spine and my pelvis. The solution for now – an injection of cortisone while an x-ray machine showed the doctor where the needle, yes needle, needed to be placed.
Now I have been through heart attacks, operations, and you would not remain my friend if I tortured you with all that information. Why you probably have that kind of list as well. Needless to say, regardless of the medical procedures I have endured, this one was a new one.
The doctor and nurse were so very kind. The doctor who I had never met was a young, tall man with an attitude that exuded confidence. You could not help but like him immediately. As I was rather tense, I told him that I was going to recite poetry as they performed the injections. This time I was going to say the poetry out loud so that I could completely ignore what the doctor and nurse were doing to my body. So I recited my poems aloud.
As many of you know, my dad said a litany of poetry or passages of scripture before he went to bed, and I have followed his example. Some of the things I recall are from the Bible; others are not. The first recitation on that doctor’s table was not exactly a biblical passage; I did not wish to have the doctor hear me say, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….” Remember, I was going to say my poetry aloud. This one was said to keep the doctor happy; I do not know who wrote it. Please forgive this minister who is human too.
‘One night in late October when I was far from sober
Carrying home my manly load with pride,
My feet began to studder so I lay down in the gutter
And a pig came near and lay down by my side,
A lady passing by was heard to say,
‘You can tell a man who boozes by the company he choses,’
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.”
Remember as you read this that the first injection was now over. Then came the second.
“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a village near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
It seemed to me those last words of miles to go before I sleep were good words for my physician to hear.
“You know who wrote that?”, I asked.
His reply was, “Living in New Hampshire, you have to know who that was.” He did not say Robert Frost, but I knew he knew that author of the poem.
When I preached in church this past Sunday, I spoke of Jesus on the cross. He was suffering so much more than any injection that I had; I hesitate to even mention my Savior. Usually when speaking out loud, I repeat verses from the Bible. That is exactly what Jesus did upon the cross. He probably repeated the twenty-third psalm as I do many times when I am in the hospital and at home when I go to bed.
The other scripture that comforted Jesus on the cross were the words, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me.” So many times those words are looked upon as a desperate giving up of his belief in God, the father – and that is not true. If you have read the twenty-second psalm, you know that it begins with the words Jesus spoke on his cross; but as the psalm continues, it speaks of the terrible suffering. However, the opening cries of the psalmist change as it progresses to the praise of God. “You have answered me.” “Praise God, Glorify Him”, when the afflicted cry to Him he hears them. “My praise shall be of You.”
Jesus’ faith is not broken on the cross. He reaffirms the greatness of God. He endures the suffering in all probability repeating not just the opening words but also the total psalm.
Memory of a passage or poem really is help in times of sadness, or fear, or when facing the unknown, when you are worried about the future and you cannot sleep. Remember the Bible first and then some of the silly poems to make you laugh inside. That is what has helped me through so many difficult times in my life.
I apologized for speaking my poems out loud and the doctor said, “ I wish all of my patients would repeat poetry.”
As I made my next appointment the nurse, Jenny, who assisted the doctor, was at the desk. Jenny is young and her hair is dyed partly green; you can tell she is “a with it” young person. “I’m sorry that you had to endure my poetry”, I said. She replied in a way that made me smile inside, “I thought it was cool!”
Dear God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Bible and for poetry that lifts the soul and comforts and sometimes just makes someone smile. For the gift of life, for the skill of physicians and nurses, we give You thanks. In time of stress, may we find great comfort in the life and words of Your Son, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Benediction; “ And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”