I am launching this blog one year into moving to a half-time pastoral appointment in order to commit myself to writing the other half time. I’m working on lots of different writing but most focused on a project with my daughter, Temma Day Lowly, whose photo you see as the header for my blog. Temma lives with profound disabilities and is unable to write so I’m trying to write with her and for her. One woman in a writer’s group suggests that I write about “every little thing” of Temma’s life and care as part of my book project.
Well…I wake up in the morning, go to Temma’s bedside and most often she is staring there, waiting, ready to be surprised again by the sound of my voice, “Hello Sweety.” She startles and begins to stick out her tongue, her only means of communication except for some grunts, well-placed sighs, burps, hiccups, other occasional sweet sounds and the very rare laugh that consists of a large intake of breath and a kind of squawk that lifts our hearts incomparably whenever it happens. There is little or no control over what will change Temma’s mood she is so into and reflective of her body and what she is experiencing in the moment. “Is this a good day?” I ask. There are slight hints of an up pull at the corners of her mouth. I’ll take that as a “yes” I reply.
Temma “thrives on what she has been given” as Sr. Joan Chittister reflects on the verse from Psalm 82, “I am like an olive tree growing in the house of The Lord.” Olive trees thrive on very little soil or water, says Sr. Joan. Like the olive tree we too can learn to thrive with what we are given. This is Temma, since day two of her life when she stopped breathing and now for twenty-seven years she thrives on what she has been given.