Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Being, Not Doing

I changed my dentist today.  I’m not a person to change doctors all the time.  When I married Beaven I started going to his family's dentist.  I couldn't help but notice that they had written his parent's and Beaven's name on the file in ink and my name was in pencil.  But I persevered and when, thirty years later, I opened the letter announcing Dr. Lowe's retirement I actually teared up.

I have a very relaxed attitude about the people who take care of my body.  I show up when they tell me to and I do what they tell me.  And I don’t worry about the rest. And I certainly don’t change doctors or dentists lightly. It’s just easier that way.

When I started hanging around the drug rehab I heard a lot of stories about women who needed to go to the dentist but couldn't afford it.  I can't imagine what it’s like to break a drug habit but certainly doing it while your teeth hurt must make it even harder.

There are really just a few ladies who come in with what they call “meth mouth”, a term used to describe the havoc it does to your teeth.  Usually, the only thing to be done for that is just pull them out.

So it’s actually more likely that we will have a lady with no teeth at all than one who has a whole set of bad teeth. But more common than either of those is when we get someone who has been so absorbed by her habit that the last chore she tended to was the dentist.  So we see a lot of ladies with a tooth or two that have gone bad from neglect. And a woman in this condition is in constant pain.

The fly in the ointment, of course, is that she doesn’t always have the money for a dentist.  Her mom is probably already keeping her kids and the court is keeping track of legal fees she owes.  So there’s nowhere to get the money for a dentist.

After Dr, Lowe retired we used a guy he recommended for a while than we moved out here and started going to a dentist who had a huge practice, fancy office building, efficient staff and all the latest equipment.  He was a very organized man. So I asked him if he ever did work free of charge for people like the Mansion ladies.  His answer was “If I did that for one person I’d have to do it for everybody.” I gave him another chance at my next checkup and asked the question again. He wouldn’t budge.

So when somebody at my church found out her dentist was happy to do it and had already worked on two of the women at the Mansion, I switched dentists immediately. I went to see him today and I love the guy.  I will give him my business from now on.  He’s even young enough I don’t have to worry about him retiring.

So many times we feel powerless to make any kind of difference in the world.  I have a representative to Congress, but he is of a different political persuasion.  In other words, my representative doesn’t represent me.  I could write letters until I was blue in the face and I expect nothing would happen.

But I can change the places where I spend my money.  And it doesn’t call for any greater investment of my time and energy than what I am already doing.

It’s just a lot easier to be than to do.

Our church  in Garland once had a pastor who arrived from West Texas with a gorgeous head of salt and pepper hair.  When he left 13 years later, he still had a vigorous head of hair except that it had become snow white. During those years he taught me many things, he presided over funerals of my friends, baptized my granddaughters and shared more than a few hospital vigils with me. 

But before he left, he taught me a phrase that is still something I am learning.  The phrase is really two terms:  “Being”, versus “Doing”.  We are “human beings” not “human doings”.  There is an art to simply “Be-ing.”  And I’m still learning it.


Normally for Easter we host the entire family here in the country.  We have more room and always a great Easter bonfire.  We, in fact, rate them like fine wine.  “Oh, yeah this is great but not as good as the one in 2011. That one had bigger logs and was more oak than pine.” There is something spiritual in watching a fire.  The flames are great, of course, but the coals of a vigorous fire will dance in the dark.  They will glow in a way that appears to be moving. It is one of Sarah’s favorite terms:  “Dancing Fire.”











 However, We didn’t have an Easter fire here this year. Elizabeth has a brand new kitty and she didn’t want to leave her alone overnight.  Kitty came from the SPCA and is very timid.  Elizabeth wants her to learn our voices and get comfortable with us so she will come out from under the damned bed where she has been hiding for almost a month.  So everybody went to her house for Easter.

We just had us a whiz-bang of an Easter at our old church in Garland.  The choir was accompanied by two trumpets, a French horn, flute, and saxophone. Oh, and a three-drum Timpani lending a deep authority to the Hallelujahs.  Not to mention Margaret Ball on the organ making it sound like you were at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York.  And a hand bell choir.  And a pastor with a deep booming voice who sang the first verse of the Psalm.  We had twenty kids at the Children’s Story. About half of the kids up there were African-Americans.  And I’m talking about real African-Americans ; whose parents were born in Cameroon.  And, let me tell you, when the Africans dress up for Easter it’s a glorious sight of flowing robes and vibrant colors.  For someone who absolutely loves the theatre of worship, it was everything an Easter service should be.

But there was one other thing that I especially loved.  I didn’t have anything I had to do. I wasn’t in charge of anybody or anything.  I didn’t have to find so and so and check on something that needed to be done. I’m not on any committee at the Garland church.  I don’t teach any classes.  I don’t serve as an elder there.  I had nothing to “do.” 

All I had to do was “Be.”

I had a lot of response to last week’s blog on being available to God and I think it’s the same thing  Ron Holloman taught me years ago.   All I have to do is “Be.”

In case you want to know how to do this yourself, here is a list of instructions:

Instructions on How to Be:

1.       Breathe.
2.       Don’t talk.
3.       Breathe.
4.       Listen.
5.       Breathe.
6.      Keep listening.  Sometimes God whispers.
7.       Breathe.
8.       Quit worrying about not hearing anything.
9.       Breathe.

After a lifetime of learning how to succeed, how to raise God-fearing and taxes paying daughters, how to climb the corporate ladder,  how to chair the perfect committee, it turns out that I now have the luxury of learning how to just be.

Thanks be to God.

And, in case you are looking for a dentist yourself, his name is Matt Johnson, he’s in Sulphur Springs at Summit Dental and the phone number is (903) 885-8906

4 comments:

Justene Doan said...

That's right. Sometimes, you've got to make the tough choices, and shed off bits of the past in order to move on. It appears that you are adjusting to your new dentist really well. Good for you! I hope your actions and message help open dental options for everyone, by simply showing that they do not have to settle with what they've got.

Justene Doan @ A Plus Family Dentistry

Anonymous said...

When a dentist works "for free" it is certainly not free. The dentist is running a business, he pays salaries of the staff, he has plenty of overhead. Him working "for free" is basically him writing the check and coming out of pocket for the work. I think he was judged too harsh for not coming out of pocket to do the work for those women. He may have had a fancy office, with fancy equipment, but do you think all that was free? Why don't you pay for their dental work? Sounds reasonable since you would think so poorly of a dentist who won't.

Dora Ingram said...

I have found that clearing my mind and trying to just "be" has been thoroughly beneficial in making some of my toughest choices. It seems that when you block out the world's distractions, the world responds with the answer or answers you have been seeking all along. Let the answers come to you, don't try to find the answers.

Dora Ingram @ CGDDS

Tyler Williford said...

Holidays should not be the only time for one to focus on giving. To live a full life is to reach out and lend a helping hand. Thinking positive and offering a smile to the unfortunate, can reap the most benefit. It has been said that nothing in life is free, but I believe that the act of kindness is.

Tyler Williford @ Marzo Smile