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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update on Dad - Long Term Acute Care

My dad, Lloyd Grizzle, continues to suffer complications from acute pancreatitis but his condition has stabilized and his spirits are much brighter. He is still unable to eat solid foods, but he is able to breathe on his own again.

He is being transported on Monday to an LTAC (Long Term Acute Care) unit in midtown Atlanta, at Kindred Hospital. The plan is for him to rest and continue to heal over the next 2 to 3 weeks so he can be strong enough to have the surgeries he needs: at least one, maybe more, to remove the parts of his pancreas that have rotted, and one to remove his gallbladder.

I deeply appreciate the continued prayers and support of my friends and cyberfriends.

Grateful Bear

Below: a latte art bear
(thanks to my Gay Spirit brother
Chamblee54 for the link!)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

From Anger to Laughter in the Critical Care Unit

I got to the hospital early this morning, before any other family members arrived, and got to spend some time alone with my dad. He is back in the Critical Care Unit because of some infection in his lungs and continued infection in his pancreas. He is back on oxygen, and his breathing is labored at times. He is on a lot of pain medication and he drifts in and out of sleep. During the moments he is awake, though, he maintains a good sense of humor. He asked me something this morning that I couldn’t understand because of all the tubes in his nose – it ended with the word “good.” I answered, “I’m trying to be good.” He smiled and laughed, though I could tell it hurt him to laugh. He grabbed my hand tightly for about half an hour, before his hand grew too tired. His body is swollen all over, including his hands.

The latest CT scan shows that between 20 and 30 percent of his pancreas has necrotized – rotted. If he survives and the necrosis does not spread, he will be moved to a specialized care facility for a while. If the necrosis continues to spread and reaches 40 percent of the pancreas, he will be moved to a hospice.

Please keep my dad, Lloyd Grizzle, in your prayers. He is in the CCU at Northside Cherokee Hospital in Canton, GA.

I’ve been experiencing irrational flashes of anger over the past week, in large part because of the sense of powerlessness I feel. My friend Carl McColman warned me against feeling irrational flashes of anger at myself for allowing myself to feel irrational flashes of anger. Sure enough, that’s what I had been doing. Carl’s insight helped me break that cycle.

After spending time alone with my dad this morning, and talking with my pastor, Paul Turner, I feel a strange kind of peace about whatever happens next. I keep thinking of that verse in Ecclesiastes (the Grateful Bear paraphrase):

“God has made everything beautiful in its time
and has planted eternity in the human heart...”

I don’t know what beauty can be found in a situation like my dad’s. I know there is beauty in his life, and there is beauty in the way his life has influenced his family and others. There is beauty in the integrity with which he lives his life, a legacy I try to live up to.

And I know there is beauty in the many messages of encouragement and prayer I’ve received, either in person or through Facebook, my blog, or email, from friends I know “in real life” and friends I know on-line. That long list of friends and cyberfriends is a very real source of healing and support.

Grateful Bear

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Healing Continues

My dad has been moved from the Critical Care Unit into a regular hospital room, at Northside Cherokee Hospital in Canton, GA. He is now able to breathe on his own. Thank you for keeping him in your prayers!

Below: a turtle, slowly but steadily crossing the road yesterday in Jasper, GA


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dad in Hospital - Condition Improving Today

Tuesday: A good day, gratefully appreciated after a bad day yesterday. My father, Lloyd Grizzle, is improving today. The infection and swelling in his abdomen (from acute pancreatitis, a severely inflamed pancreas) has decreased, and the infected fluids continue to drain from his body. He is still in a lot of pain, and today he was given a pain patch in addition to the morphine he is on. He is still not able to eat solid foods – he is receiving nutrition intravenously – but he says he is not experiencing hunger. As soon as he is able to breathe on his own, he will be moved out of the Critical Care Unit into a regular hospital room. Let’s pray that will be very soon.

I continue to be blessed by the prayers and messages of support I receive here. I can’t express how grateful I am for the many friends and cyberfriends whose prayers and healing energy are sustaining my father and my family.

~ Darrell

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Dad in Hospital - Condition is Now Worse

Monday evening: My father's condition has worsened. All the good things we saw in the last two days have come undone. The infection, which had lessened, has now increased. His abdomen is now swollen to over twice its normal size. He is still unable to breathe on his own.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dad in Hospital - Still Critical, But Improving

My dad remains in critical condition in the CCU at Cherokee Northside Hospital in Canton, GA, but his situation has definitely improved. The swelling and infection in his abdomen (from the actute pancreatitis) have lessened, and the doctors are now saying that his pancreas is inflamed, not damaged. (Earlier they had said that parts of his pancreas had been “destroyed.”)

On Wednesday, the doctors were using phrases like “if he makes it through the night” and “if he survives” – now they are using phrases like “when the swelling goes down” and “when he goes home.” He still needs to have gall bladder surgery, when the swelling goes down. He is still using a bipap mask to help him breathe. His kidney function continues to improve, so he does not need the dialysis machines as the doctors had predicted.

I was grateful that my dear friend Tom Livengood, pastor of The Living Room Church, came by for a visit yesterday with my brother Jason, my sister-in-law Janet, and me, in the CCU waiting room. I deeply appreciate Tom’s love and support, as well as all of the wonderfully kind messages I have received from my friends on Facebook, my blog, the Whosoever and Gentle Spirit email lists (thanks to Candace Chellew-Hodge and Pastor Paul Turner), the Gay Spirit Visions email list, the Sufi Atlanta email list, and many other friends and cyberfriends.

With much love and gratefulness ~
Grateful Bear


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Prayer Request: Dad in ICU

My father is in the ICU at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Jasper, GA, and I will be driving up to Jasper this afternoon to be with my mother. They are treating him for peritonitis and gallstones. They are calling in 3 specialists to test for other possible problems, including pancreatic cancer.

This is one of the reasons I am grateful for Facebook: within 2 minutes (literally) of posting this in my status bar, I received 4 messages of support from cyberfriends around the world: Atlanta & Savannah, GA; South Africa; London, England. I very much appreciate the messages and also any prayers and healing energy you can send my way today.

Please keep my dad, Lloyd Grizzle, in your prayers and on any prayer lists at your respective churches, healing circles, and other faith communities.

~ Darrell

Update, Thursday, July 10: My dad remains in critical condition in the ICU. He is being treated "aggressively" for acute pancreatitis. His abdomen is severely swollen and is being drained of gas and infection. He needs to have surgery as soon as possible to remove gallstones but he would not survive surgery at this time.

Update, Friday, July 11: My dad has been transported to another hospital, in case dialysis machines are needed. So far, his kidneys are still functioning, so he is not yet on dialysis. The doctors do not expect him to live, but he is not surrendering to their prognosis. He is still aware and communicative, although it's difficult for him to talk because of the bipap breathing mask helping him to breathe. His abdomen is still severely swollen, but much of the fluid has been drained.

My pastor, Paul Turner (Gentle Spirit Christian Church), came and prayed with my father yesterday, along with my mother, my dad's sister, and me. Dad seemed very grateful for Pastor Paul's presence and his prayers, and he even smiled at one of Pastor Paul's jokes. Paul spent a lot of time with my mother and me and helped greatly to ease my mother's fears.

Please keep Lloyd Grizzle in your prayers. He is in the Critical Care Unit at Northside Cherokee Hospital, Canton, GA. I remain deeply grateful for all of my friends and cyberfriends, literally around the world, who are praying for my dad.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Deadheads for Obama


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Sunday, July 06, 2008

BookLog: We the Purple

The Baptist megachurch near my home routinely flies an enormous American flag, about the size of my car, on a tall flagpole in front of the church. There’s usually a much smaller “Christian flag” underneath it, almost as an afterthought. This weekend, though, being the 4th of July weekend, the church has pulled out all the stops. I counted 30 full-sized American flags flying in front of the church yesterday afternoon, in addition to the enormous one. Only two crosses were visible, making the flag-to-cross ratio 31:2. The “Christian flag” was removed, perhaps because the board of deacons thought it might distract from the display of patriotism. Or perhaps because people might get the wrong idea about what is really being worshipped there. (Hint: It ain’t the Jesus of the Gospels, who gave his disciples a non-violent alternative to the ruling empire of his day.)

It bothers me when politicians try to co-opt the church. I know a small-town politician who does not attend church except for the six months prior to re-election time, when she suddenly becomes a Sunday school teacher.

But it bothers me even more when the church tries to co-opt the state. I’m bothered when the church, either on the right or on the left, tries to present its views as wedded to the teachings of faith. So when I saw the cover of Marcia Ford’s new book, We the Purple: Faith, Politics, and the Independent Voter, the part about being “tired of partisanship in the church” really appealed to me. The text on the cover reads:

Marcia Ford (check out her blog, also called We the Purple) writes about voters across the political spectrum who are no longer thinking in terms of Democrat vs. Republican, or even liberal vs. conservative. Ford writes about the growing numbers of independent voters who are actually thinking about individual issues and no longer buying in to the “package deals” offered by the two party platforms.

I have Catholic friends, for example, who call themselves consistently pro-life – they are against abortion, but they are also against the death penalty and the war in Iraq. They don’t fit neatly into either the conservative or the liberal camps.

Ford’s book offers a number of profiles of independent voters she has interviewed. She also examines statistics about current voting trends and takes a look at the problems with our current election system (including electronic voting machines). She talks about the growing number of young voters, for whom some issues, like gay marriage, are simply not issues at all. Gay marriage? Why not? Unlike their parents, younger voters “just can’t get all riled up about it,” says Ford. She believes that in time, “same-sex marriage will be legalized, due to a combination of aggressive activism by gay rights advocates, indifference on the part of the electorate, and issue-fatigue among evangelicals and other conservatives who are simply tired of the rhetoric.”

Ford also writes about the issue of abortion, which along with gay marriage is one of the two major concerns of evangelical Christian voters (at least the older ones). She gives fair treatment to issues on both sides of the debate, talking about women she has known “whose conscience – not James Dobson or Pope Benedict XVI – tells them abortion is wrong, and women whose conscience – not NARAL or Planned Parenthood – tells them abortion is a difficult solution to a difficult situation.”

One particularly intriguing chapter of We the Purple is “The Pew Distrust,” which starts off by quoting Gregory Boyd (“Jesus never allowed himself to be defined by the political conflicts of the day, and neither should we”) and ends with a look at the Emergent Church movement as a possible “spiritual home for independents” (a section based on an earlier article by Ford for explorefaith.org, one of my favorite websites).

We the Purple is an informative and encouraging look at an increasing movement of independent voters who examine their consciences rather than parroting a party line. It’s good summer time reading for this season as the 4th of July fireworks die down and the presidential campaigns heat up.


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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Krishna Das Concert Review

The great guys at RockOm asked me to write a review of the Krishna Das concert I attended in Atlanta on Monday, June 30. Here it is.