Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(Photo of normal colon and ileocecal valve from Wikimedia Commons)

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

--Collect, Third Week of Advent, Book of Common Prayer, p. 212

Now, you might wonder what a colonoscopy photo has to do with Advent and nipsis. Well, keep reading.

I have to go back to when I was 8 years old. I had my tonsils out on my 8th birthday. What I remember most was the bits of the conversation I picked up from the hushed tones of the doctor and adults.

"We almost lost her."

"We're not sure what happened but she stopped breathing."

Now, what I remember about that tonsillectomy was this sense of suddenly falling asleep while people were talking to me and not remembering a blessed thing until I woke up and my throat hurt.

Somehow, in my childhood brain, I associated that sense of "no consciousness at all" with death. So for the next 42 years I resisted ANY medical or dental procedure that "would put me clear out." I suffered some interesting consequences from that. I had a bigger than normal dental procedure in an under-anesthetized state, enduring the pain of it, because of that fear. I had two surgical "same day surgery" procedures with a local because I refused to let them "put me clear under."

In short, I suffered some physical pain for the trade off of "control."

Then came my 50th birthday, and my requisite "You're 50, you need a screening colonoscopy" moment.

I knew the surgeon in town I wanted to do it. He's a guy I trust as a colleague when he comes by and trusts my ability to do pathology on his biopsy cases.

The anesthesiologist who would be there is one of the best anywhere, IMO.

And I knew this surgeon always put people "clear out" for their colonoscopy.

For me to tell him how to do his business was unthinkable, because he would never tell me mine.

I was stuck.

So I gulped hard and decided to go through with it. I told no one about my secret fear--not even my priest or my priest associate. It was just too elemental, too secret, too embarrassing, too exposing of my need to control things. They just knew I was getting scoped.

What I remember most is waking up from the colonoscopy. As I went under, I thought to myself, "Ok, God, I'm telling you right now, if I die, I'm good with the world. I can deal with it. These are people I trust and who trust me in my job. So you, me, the world, is all square."

When I awoke, I said, "So when are we doing this?" and the anesthesiology resident said, "We're done, Doc!"

My next thought was, "'M ALIVE!"

I spent that whole day just being excited I was alive. I was so happy about it, as soon as I was able to drive again, I went over to church and mowed the yard. I felt absolutely invincible.

"I'm alive! Not only am I alive, I'm mowing the yard at church like nothing ever happened! Woo hoo! Forty-two years of fear were for nothing!"

So what does that have to do with nipsis?

The third week of Advent--the rose week--is all about joy in the middle of all this silent expectation. Stir up your power O Lord, and with great might come among us. When you've sat quietly for a while, a little interlude of joy is heavenly. It's the feeling of being borne up by what you cannot see.

I think back to when I was nine, and we went to visit my great uncle who lived on the Florida coast. They had a "little bitty hurricane" come up--like a level 1 or 2. The kids in the neighborhood invited me to come "play in the wind." They had this wonderfully strange game. When the wind picked up, you merely put your hands outstretched and leaned forward until you felt the wind "holding you up," and then you just let go your body and let the wind hold you up at a 45 degree angle. I remember how fun--how free--it felt just to be borne up in a storm. I remember the exhilaration with that.

Remember, nipsis implies a "waking from sleep." A new awareness. After all, if nipsis means "sober; not intoxicated," it means we are at our most awake and alert--our most sensory-ready to accept things wakefully.

Awareness is its own reward, but what about taking time to simply feel the joy from waking up and knowing we're not dead?

No matter what pain we've seen, no matter what misfortune befalls us, we can see what happens if we merely acknowledge the lack of our demise. When we do that, the nipsis of it allows us to lean forward and be borne up in the wind. We can awake from death, or at the very least, our projections of death.

The best part is we can let go--and let that God with great might not only hold us up, but stir up our souls, and let us go, "Wheeeeeee!"



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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