This essay is part of the Vocation of Peacemaking series where we asked members and friends of the BPFNA to write brief essays on their peacemaking work. The Vocation of Peacemaking stories come from students, activists, teachers, parents, pastors, lay people, and retirees who work for peace in their jobs, their communities, their families, their volunteer time, and their neighborhoods in a wide variety of ways. Each story is a wonderful reminder that there are as many ways to live a life of peace as there are people, and that we can act for peace in real and important ways wherever we find ourselves.
We will be publishing the stories one at a time over the next several weeks and then compiling them into an Issue Monograph before the end of 2014. The monograph will be available as a free download from the BPFNA website.
Keep checking the Vocation of Peacemaking webpage for more!
I stopped professional work in 2011 when my Parkinson's disease made working full time too difficult. I had not looked at what I do now as a vocation to peacemaking until I received LeDayne's invitation. Since the autumn of 2011, I have been writing poems about having Parkinson's disease. At first I thought they were to help me deepen my understanding of my relationship with the disease. But now that three years have passed and I have written three books to help children who love adults with chronic illnesses, it seems more focused and more of a ministry with two foci
I write my children's books to help empower children. Children who are confronted with the illness of an adult who "never gets better and always gets worse" are children in a frightening situation. My stories show them that they already know ways for helping themselves cope and for comforting the adults they love.
I write my poetry to educate and communicate that despite there being times when Parkinson's has control of my voice and facial expressions, I am still inside this somewhat unwieldy body. I try to translate the experience behind the stiffened facial muscles to let people with and without Parkinson's know that, although it is hard sometimes, this is very much a life worth living.
Below are two examples of my current work. The first one is about being available online to help people who have recently had their Parkinson's disease diagnosed. During a recent program on PBS called Robin Williams Remembered--A Pioneers of Television Special, I tweeted @parkinsonhope2, in hopes no one would have to feel alone. The second poem is about patience, the flip side of hope.
A new calling
This summer there was a man who died.
So kind and famous that everyone cried.
Then the news traveled over the air,
the man had perished because of despair.
The whole country was saddened when this was made known.
We had felt like we'd known him. Yet he died all alone.
Later we heard some more shocking news
from the famous man's wife and it made me quite blue.
He had Parkinson's, she shared.
Maybe he felt that nobody cared.
Each case is different. It doesn't cause death,
but Parkinson's makes you feel like a terrible mess
The adjustment to the disease and its drugs takes some time.
They take hope-filled support and enough strength to climb
out of a self-pitying state of your mind.
We can't help the man; he is already gone.
But we can share hope with others and a way to move on.
Upon diagnosis, you may feel quite alone.
If I can help it, you won't be on your own.
-Adele Pfrimmer Hensley
13 September 2014
PATIENCE may be more like a cochineal insect...
Patience has no feathers.
Oh, it may look that way,
but the more closely you look,
you realize that what looks like feathers
are really tiny flakes of wax.
Patience has no real ability to move.
It sits on a leaf
and shelters in place.
It doesn't seem possible that it could thrive but if you don't try to force anything,
if you leave its protective covering in place,
if you can just let it be,
when you return,
it may have multiplied a thousand-fold,
it may cover the plant that grew from the seed of hurry or worry in your heart.
draining its power,
halting its progress,
stopping it cold.
And when the trouble is done, and all the patience you need for what lies ahead
is once again a small source
and deep knowledge
of the process of the cultivation of patience,
the excess can mark your soul the deep rich red that will speak forever of your perseverance and the
indomitable spirit that is you.
-Adele Pfrimmer Hensley
6 May 2013
Adele is married to Frank; they are the parents of Clark, and she is the author of three books for children. She and her family live with Gryffindor, a labrador retriever, in Clinton, Mississippi. Her books can be ordered from amazon.com or you can contact her through her website at adelehensley.com for signed copies.