Thursday, March 24, 2016


This week, my head is doing things with layers. And it’s the layers of my geekdom intersecting for some interesting theology going on.

Part the first: My Hebrew Scriptures professor had a thing about emphasizing the Covenant. (This is unsurprising if you know she’s a Presbyterian pastor – they have a thing about the Covenant.) The ancient contracts between God and Noah, God and Abraham, God and Moses, and the ancillary implied and explicit contracts of God with their descendants and peoples fuel so much of the history of Israel as people and nation. Our God is a God of relationships, and many of those historical relationships are defined in terms of abiding by or breaking the contracts formed on an individual and corporate basis.

Part the second: English Common Law enshrines the Quarter Days, those days when people are hired and fired, when contracts start and end, debts settled, and rural courts are in session. Lady Day (Mar 25), Midsummer (June 22), Michelmas (Sept 29), and Christmas (Dec 25) marked transitional days from roughly the 12th century onward. Yearlong contracts, multiyear contracts, purchases/sales, real estate contracts and leases tended to begin on Lady Day, to the point that it was the beginning of the English fiscal year.* This makes sense, because it’s just before planting, travel is relatively easy, and everything else is starting to grow. So, traditionally (in the sense of Good Anglican Tradition, or the similar one that lives in my head as a medievalist) contracts, especially long term contracts, are supposed to start and end on March 25.

 There is a strong conservative theological tradition of Christ being the fulfilment of the covenant – neither we nor God can make a larger sacrifice or pay the contracted price in a more significant manner than what happened/will happen on Good Friday, and this year, that happens on Lady Day. So my layers really involve the beginning and ending and rewriting of the long term contract on the day that all contracts begin, end, or when the terms are rewritten. Christ’s death stamps a giant PAID IN FULL on the bottom of the covenantal contract between God and Israel…and also begins a different contract, terms spelled out previous to payment by payee (Christ) on behalf of mortal parties to contract, by and between said mortal parties and God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, etc. (God). Said terms and provisions to be held as contract in perpetuity by all parties, the participatory involvement of mortal parties being a matter of Free Will, predestination, or none of the above, case to be adjucated at a later future date to be determined.

 *Is still kinda the beginning of the English fiscal year. When the calendar shifted from Greogorian to Julian, the date shifted to April 6. However, the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary stayed on March 25.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Having a discussion via twitter sparked something in my head today. It might be the pain meds talking, we’ll see.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been on the pain meds. Despite the steady worsening of the auto-immune issues, I relied on naproxen and tylenol when things hurt…which was more and more frequently. I started with a new primary care doctor, who said, “Wait. How much are you taking? How often? Here, please go see the lab, because your poor, poor liver.”

I knew I hurt. I knew I hurt worse and worse, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d given up and pulled into a shell because of the pain until we tried some new therapies. And while the pain didn’t go away, it did get drastically better. I am incredibly lucky in my medical team, in that they listen, they hear my concerns, and try to address them.

Even so, I’m only “passing” as able bodied, in the language of the queer community, and I’m passing less and less. I don’t even bother to try in airports – flying takes it out of me in very bad ways, but for less duration than driving. I have what is called an invisible disability; unless it’s a really bad day, I try not to use assistive devices. That doesn’t mean what I can do isn’t curbed by the inability of my body to function. Also, I’m really good at concealing the braces – being a girl means I can get away with long skirts, and winter means long sleeves that come down over my knuckles.

All this means I now identify as disabled, just like I identify as female. While my life looks relatively “normal”, with job and hobbies and partner, my energy reserves are carefully allocated because so much goes towards dealing with my chronic illness and managing to function despite pain, rather than without pain. I have to make choices every morning, and every afternoon, and every evening – what needs to be done, what can I do, what can be put off until tomorrow.

I might get cranky when I am told that I’m not actually disabled or disabled “enough”. I’ve heard it from employers, coworkers, acquaintances, disability advocates, and other, more seriously disabled individuals.
No, I don’t get the same level of blatant discrimination – doors slammed in my face, slurs and derogatory language, my access to services denied because I am unable to walk in the door or converse intelligently with service providers.  I can hold down a “real job”.

I also get slammed with “but you don’t look disabled!” as I try to explain my limitations or take advantages of services I need. My language is policed and my concerns dismissed by people who should really know better, because I’m really an able-bodied person who is just playing for the sympathy.

I wish.

One of the side effects of chronic pain is depression – watching as your world narrows, frustration that your body won’t let you be normal, and the wearing, draining nature of the pain itself as it always is eating at the back of your mind, taking processing power. This is my world, and I have to fight on days like today not to let the pain define it, from waking to sleeping. I am not just a disabled person, a sick person – I am a seamstress and a jeweler and a maker of things, a realtor and a researcher, a friend and a partner.

It’s really hard to remember those other things I am, and it gets even worse when I’m told the piece I’m fighting against, that I’m struggling to not let take over my world? That piece, is illegitimate, fake, not really that bad.

Don't do that.