America in the Stress Test Waiting Room

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Last week I asked a psychiatrist friend whether he has been seeing increased levels of stress in his patients. “Yes,” he said, “Universally.”

As the impeachment inquiry hearings begin today, we are divided and angry. But we’re all under stress, and we’re all Americans. When we’re stressed, we do strange things. Some of us clam up. Some of us scream and shout. Some of us need company. Which led me to think again this morning about the stress test waiting room and a World War II veteran named Bill. I’m wondering what Bill might say.

Bill in the Stress Test Waiting Room

visual image of hospital waiting room

He sits by himself in the hospital waiting room.

“Where you from?” he asks, as if welcoming the stranger who’s come to his home for a stress test.

“Chaska.”

Where?” he asks over the whine from his hearing aids.

I’m not anxious to strike up a conversation. I’m here for a stress test. I’m an introvert. Chatting with strangers when I’m gathering myself when I’m under stress, waiting for a stress test, is the last thing I want.

C h a s k a!” I repeat.

“Oh! I’m from Waconia! I’m Bill.”

He gives a broad smile as though we’re related. (Waconia and Chaska are neighbors in Carver County, MN.)

His gowned wife, fresh off the treadmill, returns from her stress test.

“This is my wife, Jane. She’s a lot younger than I am. I’m 96.”

“Ninety-four,” says the younger wife. “We’ve been together 15 years.”

“Chaska’s the county seat,” says Bill. “That’s where i was sworn in.” (Clearly, he’s an extrovert. He feels better when he has guests.)

“World War II?”

“February 6, 1942. Eighty of us. A lot of guys from Chaska.”

“Where’d you serve?”

“He was part of D-Day,” answers Jane. Bill’s head sinks toward his lap. His chin begins to quiver. A long pause follows.

D-Day, WWII.

Only 15 of us came back.”

“Were you injured?”

“No,” he says, forming his hands in prayer and looking up. “I don’t know why.” He falls again into silence.

Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minnesota

Bill’s body is with us, but he’s not here. He’s back at Normandy Beach on D-Day.

“That’s a lot of death,” I say. “A lot of killing. A lot of loss.”

He looks up, nods, and drops his head again.

Post-traumatic Stress,” I say quietly to Jane. “I’m a pastor. I’ve seen it so many times with Vietnam War and Iraq War veterans.”

“I think so,” she says. “He still can’t talk about it after all these years.”

The technician calls my name. “Mr. Stewart?”

As I stand to leave the stress test waiting room, Bill reaches up to say good-bye with a firm handshake and friendly smile for the whippersnapper from Chaska.

Robert Davis of Clarkston has an outpatient stress test run by exercise physiologist’s Richard Andrevzzi and Donna McCollom in the Royal Oak hospital.

I leave the waiting room and get on the treadmill, reminded that there is stress and there is stress, knowing that mine bears no comparison to Bill’s and thankful for a few moments with a 94 year-old who has every reason to think he’s 96.

Today and tomorrow, as I zoom in on the televised public hearings on impeachment, I’m wondering what Bill would say.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 13, 2019.

Football Trumps Emancipation Proclamation

After eight months of planning for Emancipation Day celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Chaska High School this Saturday (expected attendance: 600), this email arrived from one of the planners, the Chaska Chief of Police:

FYI. The Chaska football team has a “home” game, on Saturday. It’s a big one. It starts at 3 PM. Be prepared to encounter a lot of traffic, activity and parking may be a challenge.

Turns out the game is a Section 2AAAAA Semifinal with the Northfield Raiders. The Chaska Hawks are unbowed and unbeaten. Excitement is high.

We may not get into the parking lot.

The best (or worst?) laid plans of mice and men…. How did we miss this? “Lord, emancipate emancipation this Saturday.” Excedrin and Jack Daniels will be gratefully received.

The Slaves Speak to Our Time

The voice of Frederick Douglass:

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false in the future.

– Rochester, NY, July 4, 1852

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

This Tuesday’s Dialogues program will bring the voices of the slaves to the Chapel of Shepherd of the Hill Church in Chaska, MN. The time is 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 15.

The evening will begin with Odetta singing “I been ‘buked and I been scorned” and move into the spoken words of 101 year-old ex-slave Fountain Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman (“Moses”), and Langston Hughes (“The Freedom Train”) portrayed by local residents Yvette Atkinson and Ray Pleasant in dramatic readings.

Group singing of the music that kept hope alive: There is a balm in Gilead, O Freedom, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and Go Down, Moses!

Questions to be discussed by participants:

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

What does disenfranchisement look like today in America?

Who/what are the new owners of human property?

Who are the new slaves?

Where is the spirit of emancipation moving today in the U.S.A.? Continue reading

Events: You’re Invited

Join the celebration of the spirit of emancipation in the 150 Year Anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation: Becoming Free – Go Fly a Kite,Tuesday, October 1, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Steve Shoemaker and President Bill Clinton

Steve Shoemaker and President Bill Clinton

Rev. Steve Shoemaker, host of Univ. of Illinois Public Radio interview program “Keepin’ the Faith” and published poet. Location: Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church, 145 Engler Blvd. in Chaska

The Slaves Speak: Voices from Slavery, Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Anticipating Emancipation Day (Oct. 26) Shepherd of the Hill Dialogues presents dramatic readings from the hearts and minds of the slaves and ex-slaves, like Sojourner Truth, pictured here with Abraham Lincoln.

Dramatic readings, insight into the period, the movement toward emancipation in our own time, and communal singing of the songs from the cotton fields (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; My Lord! What a Morning, and other spirituals).
Location: Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church.

Emancipation Day Celebration, Saturday, October 26 3:15 – 8:30 P.M. Location: Chaska High School

Sojourner Truth and President Abraham Lincoln

Sojourner Truth and President Abraham Lincoln

Mark the 150th Anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation celebrate the spirit of on-going spirit of emancipation for our time. Guest speaker and Music by guest artists Dennis Spears, Jerry Steele, Momoh Freeman , and the Valley Band and Chaska High School Choir.

Sponsors for Oct. 26 Emancipation Day Celebration: the Cities of Carver, Chanhassen Chaska and Victoria (Mayor’s Proclamations); Chaska Police Department, Chaska Human Rights Commission; Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church; District 112 Office of Community Education; Carver County Library.

Jazz – the language of love and awe

“Who is your favorite jazz pianist?”

“Bill Evans,” came the quick reply from Ted Godbout, the jazz pianist who came to us out of the blue as a candidate for the music position at the little church in Chaska, MN where jazz is the language of love and awe.

In the news Michael Jordan is defending himself against a young man’s claim that he is Air Jordan’s “love child” who deserves more of Michael’s time. Listening to Ted Godbout at his audition, I wondered….

We sent Ted’s DNA to the lab for testing :-). He’s that good. And only 29! Ted leads the music at Shepherd of the Hill for the first this Sunday, March 10.

Extracts from the Visitors page of the church website speak of the language of jazz.

Imagine a place…

a church, actually, your church,……

where it is a safe place to land, for a bit of time

while you marvel….

and wonder, and revel in

love…..

and justice…..

and mercy….

where the questions get clearer and

better questions replace them….

where your heart burns to return

Again and again……

where jazz is the language of love……

and love, the language of

Awe…….

where God is a three letter word again….

spoken to soothe your tired feet…

On your journey of becoming

more of who Love intended you to be,

(since you have heard it said, “fear not….”)

Commentary: Church cancels gun violence dialogue series – Chaska Herald: Commentaries

Editor’s note: This column, submitted by the Rev. Gordon Stewart and Bill Tisel, clerk of session, on behalf of the Shepherd of the Hill Presb…

via Commentary: Church cancels gun violence dialogue series – Chaska Herald: Commentaries.

MEET THE ARTIST: Koffi Mbairamadji

"Abraham's Sons" - Koffi Mbairamadji

“Abraham’s Sons” – Koffi Mbairamadji

Friday evening, January 11 from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.

Drop by the wine and cheese reception for African artist Koffi Mbairamadji from Chad.

Click HERE for Georgetown University’s Center for Liturgy article on the artist.

The exhibit will be on display at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, MN in preparation for the Martin Luther King Day Celebration, January 21, 2013 at 7:00 P.M. in the Chapel of Shepherd of the Hill.

All are welcome.

“Go and do likewise”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska ending with “Simple Song” from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass.

The Line

In the Company of Hysterical Women from New Zealand published “Live below the Line: Day One” this morning as we in Minnesota, USA are launching a press release to announce  the screening of a film on the new face of poverty in America. Click HERE to read In the Company of Hysterical Women’s post.

Here is today’s press release for “The LINE: Poverty in America. It’s not what you think”:

CHASKA, Minn., Sept. 24, 2012 – The new face of poverty in America is the subject of a new documentary film called The Line. The public is invited to a free screening of the movie at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, Minn. on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. CST in conjunction with the premiere in Washington D.C. and sites all over the United States.

Logo for “The Line”

The Line is a groundbreaking documentary from Sojourners, a national Christian, non-partisan organization committed to faith in action for social justice, and Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett. It features real people, their struggles, and their inspiring and creative responses to the challenges they face. The goal of the film is to break through traditional political divides, foster honest dialogue, and refocus our society on the common good.

Shepherd of the Hill Pastor Gordon C. Stewart will host a discussion immediately following the 40-minute film as part of First Tuesday Dialogues, a community forum held at the church from October through May each year that examines critical public issues locally and globally.

“Poverty is a faith issue. When I learned about the film I thought we should show that here. It fits our First Tuesday Dialogues program mission,” said Pastor Stewart. “What is more critical than poverty? The middle class has been slipping for a long time now. The problems are structural. Hand outs – traditional Christian charity – don’t address the deeper problem.”

Working through Sojourners magazine, Sojourners’ website sojo.net, public speaking events, media outreach, educational resources, books, advocacy, and trainings, Sojourners is an internationally influential voice at the intersection of faith, politics, and culture.

Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church is located at 145 Engler Blvd. in Chaska, Minn. 55318.  www.shepherdofthehillchurch.com