The words in the title belong to Eleanor Roosevelt.
I first found them scrawled on a piece of paper among some belongings of my grandmother.
My grandmother's mother suffered from bipolar disorder. Her husband, my grandfather, had something they called "a breakdown" in his late twenties (and then went on to a successful family and business life). When my mother and brother died, she and my grandfather lived next door to us and took on much of the burden of our family in a time of blinding pain. By the time she reached her nineties, she was almost completely deaf and blind, with her brilliant and still clear mind thus unable to engage with others except in the most limited ways, and yet she lived for ten more years.
In other words, she spent nearly a century doing things she must have thought she could not do.
And in the doing of most of them, she affected a great many people.
I am not afraid, as I told one of the newest people in my life, a breast cancer surgeon, of cancer. I am not afraid of surgery or chemo or radiation. Three years ago my husband and I had just spent a week overseeing the immediate consequences of our son's death and were planning a trip to Chicago to empty his apartment; I can't imagine that there is much left for me to be afraid of in this life.
But I am a little bewildered, you know? This morning I am supposed to be preaching my very first sermon as the pastor of Small Church in Tiny Town and this week I am supposed to be meeting people in my congregation and working with them on the plans that will see us through Christmas. And instead I am hanging out at home, still recovering from Surgery No. 1 and awaiting the end-of-week consultation that will provide a hint of the alternative framework that will control my life for the next several months.
There are so many unanswered questions which affect not only my immediate family and friends, but also so many unknown people who are suddenly in my life.
Oddly enough, the thing I do not know how to do has little to do with the nuts and bolts of contending with cancer. Those I will most likely learn about pretty quickly.
What I have no idea about is how to serve a church community by providing it with a sense of positive and loving leadership and direction so that it continues to thrive while simultaneously creating a positive space in which its members can support me.
I don't think there's a book out there about this one.
When I looked up the Eleanor Roosevelt quotation to be sure that I had it right, I found this one as well:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
My dream is to tend and nurture SC so that it continues to thrive as a community of God.
I guess that that means I will be doing some things I think I cannot do.
PS: Ordination Service is still scheduled for October 30. We are going to try to work around that date, but I won't post the info here until it's for sure.