Saturday, March 22, 2008

Peace Be With You

So there they were, all of them save one, huddled together in the same room where only a few days ago they had celebrated the Passover. It had been a raucous, chaotic, and tragic three days. One of their own, for reasons no one fully understood, had sold them all out. He was now dead, a body found hanging in a tree. Thirty pieces of silver scattered on the ground beneath the dead corpse.

Some of them had seen what had happened to Jesus. Others, too afraid, remained in hiding, only hearing of the scourging... the nails pounded in his hands and feet... the crown of thorns... the mocking he received from the Jewish priests and Roman soldiers. They were ashamed. Terrified for their lives, none of them stuck around to claim the body. Only a rich believer and a Pharisee who believed him to be the messiah dared show their faces to claim him from the tomb. They had the clout with those in charge to get away with affiliating themselves with the now disgraced "King of the Jews".

The eleven hiding in the Upper Room didn't have that kind of luxury. They knew now they were wanted men, eleven more examples of what you'd get if you crossed authority, and dare challenge the status quo. The Bible doesn't tell us what was going on that room that weekend in the aftermath of the bloodbath that had been Jesus Christ's demise.

Maybe they were pondering how to slip out of the city, and back to the quiet of their previous lives.

Maybe they were beating themselves up for having given him the last three years of their lives.

Maybe they listened in fear as others, believers but not believers that were so high profile as to be targeted as "the next to get it", came to them with news, and rumors, of temple guards or Roman soldiers searching for them.

Maybe they just wept, grieving the loss of the first person who ever gave their life meaning. Who accepted them when others would not. Who ushered them into the presence of God's grace for the first time.

Maybe they were trying to figure out what in the world would make Mary Magdalene say that he was now alive, risen from the dead. Was it grief so great that it was forcing a denial of reality. Was it simply hope against hope that the words he had said to them, over and over, were now true. Was she just crazy. All they knew was that the news of the empty tomb was spreading across Jerusalem, and that they had stolen the body... securing their fate.

The Bible doesn't tell us what was going on in that room on that very first Easter. John only tells us that the disciples were "meeting behind closed door because they were afraid of Jewish leaders". But you really don't need to know much more than that to speculate where their heads were at the first time they saw him for themselves.

It was that moment, that everything changed.

Well, not everything. They were still in hiding, on the lam, from those willing to go to just about any lengths to stomp out this fledging religious movement led by a carpenter's son from Galilee. The uncertainty of that reality hadn't abated or disappeared. As a matter of fact, if legend can be trusted, ten of the remaining eleven would end up losing their lives violently in the cause of Christ, while the eleventh died in exile, alone, imprisoned. In worldly terms, their death warrants, and whatever that now meant for those who loved them, had already been signed. The troubles this life brings - suffering, death, hunger, the constant pressure to provide for those dependent upon you, all the complexities of living in relationship with other people - none of that changed. Life was just as difficult now as it was yesterday.

But then again, now nothing was the same. Like their savior, they would bear the scars etched by life onto body and soul, but they would not be borne as they were before.

Or as Paul put it, "Where, oh death, is now your victory? Where is your sting?"

There he was, in the flesh. Living. Breathing. Breathing upon them. Not a ghost or a zombie or a spirit from beyond. But a person with warm, moist breath that you felt when he leaned over to kiss your forehead, and to dry your tears. A living example that might doesn't make right. That "blessed are those who desire peace for they will be called God's children" actually meant something. In that living, breathing man cynicism and broken promises and unfulfilled expectations ceased to be, and mourning now could now be turned, eventually at least, into dancing.

Christ's rising from the dead didn't smooth out the bumps of life. We're still jarred, sometimes to the core, as we travel cross its dusty, beaten path. But in him now we find a promise: that all the suffering, self-denial, the foolishness that comes with being optimistic about the future even as during moments you are leaving in a time or place that hope goes to die... that in the aftermath of your own failure to live up to what you say you believe... that something greater trumps the darkness.

Trumps the sin. Trumps the failure... even our own failure.

Those disciples went into that Upper Room terrified of what was coming, but they left the Upper Room with a new sense of purpose and assurance that no matter what life through at them, it would not be for naught. And somehow, fear was transformed into peace.

Fear was transformed into peace. He said, "Peace be with you", and it was.

How badly do we need to hear those four little words again today. As wars wage. As horrible atrocities are committed. As our 401k's become worth only 1k's. As we pass empty building and houses, markers of how the economic landscape is changing. As we face addictions to all kinds of substances that can be found on street corners and medicine cabinets, in grocery aisles and via Fed Ex. As ruthless drug lords are armed to the teeth and people on every side of the law ponder where justice is in this world. As we face diseases we can't heal. As we put our child on a school bus, and he or she takes one step further away from the supposed security and safety of our home, and a step closer to facing the reality of how hard things can be... out there.

Surely we need to hear, "Peace be with you", and have it sink deep into hearts and souls where the balm can surely bring healing to open, painful sores.

For it was peace that ended up driving them from that dark, dank room, and into the streets. Peace that led them, in fact, into the Temple, into the presence of those who would take their lives to preserve the Roman version of peace - quiet kept at the end of a pike and sword. To preach boldly that the cross could not destroy him, nor the grave hold him.

It was peace that drove Peter to the pulpit in the middle of the Court of the Gentiles. Calling people to turn from a bitter, uncertain life geared toward survival, to a life where friendship was so deep that the group where people shared what they had with one another, broke bread together, and lifted one another up in prayer. 3000 that first day heard him and were baptized.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Thomas Mann, the writer played by James Earl Jones, in response to threats made by a banker that the family farm would be lost because a man dared follow a still, small voice that told him that if he built it, they would come, reassures the title character, Ran Cansella, that people will come. That they'll pay $20 a person without thinking about it to come watch ballgames played by old ballplayers on a baseball field in rural Iowa.

"For it's money they have, and peace they lack."

Peace be with you.

If there was anything I could give you this Easter morning. If there was anything I'd want you to take away this day from the Shawnee United Methodist Church. It would be peace.

Peace with the living God who made you.

Peace with what you have, and peace with that you don't have.

Peace in your heart when you think of your loved ones and your enemies.

Peace as you realize that doing that right thing, the right way, every day, the best that you can, matters.

Peace that you have a place in eternity.

Peace, with you, everywhere you go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Getting Any Easier

Last night about 2000 people from the City of Lima worshiped at a triumphant, hopeful Palm Sunday service held in at the Civic Center. On my way out to the car I heard more than one person say that if we worshiped together - people of all backgrounds, denominations, cultures - three or four times a year, the city would improve immensely.

Who knew that feeling of optimism would be dashed not a day later.

The Grand Jury today indicted Officer Joseph Chavalia on two separate counts: negligent homicide (in the death of Tarika Wilson) and negligent assault (in the wounding of her 14 month old son, Sincere). Both counts are misdemeanors. At most Officer Chavalia would spend 8 months in jail and pay a fine. He is currently out on a $5000 bond.

Knowing today would probably be the day the prosecutor would begin to unveil his case, it didn't hit me until this afternoon to go to the Lima News website to see what charges, if any, were going to be levied. It wasn't until late this evening (I had a SPRC meeting tonight, and then stayed after talking with Dr. Eric the Buckeye) that the gravity of this decision hit me.

If no indictment had been handed down, it would have been seen as vindication for the LPD, and the black community would have been incensed. If the indictment had resulted in felony murder charges the black community would have been cautiously optimistic while the LPD battened down the hatches. But in this particular case, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, will be satisfied with this indictment.

The law enforcement community, while realizing that the charges could have been felonies, can't be satisfied knowing that one of their own is being charged with a crime while simply doing his duty. What's more, they know that in many quarters of the city people would be of the opinion that the charges levied didn't come close to actually fulfilling the mandate of justice, so the possibility of facing those frustrated and violent is increased.

The Black Ministerial Alliance is upset because for the past two months they've been asked by the city administration to be patient until the facts would be revealed, and justice would be done. They have asked their congregations to be patient and to trust the process. They have reached out to white pastors and churches in the name of building relationships and unity. But in the end, all they have to show for their patience is two misdemeanors and still no report on what went on inside that house in early January. Here's the link to the video of the BMA's press conference held this afternoon.

The family of Tarika Wilson is beside themselves. While her boyfriend, the target of the drug raid, sits in a county jail, unable to raise the 1 million dollar bond for the seven felony counts he faces for drug trafficking, the officer responsible for Wilson's death was out on the streets after only needing to post $5,000. And not matter what, nothing will bring back to six children their mother.

The family of Officer Chavalia is, I'm sure, also reeling right now. Just think how their worlds have been turned upside down overnight. They go from what I imagine was a pretty quiet life, to now the prospect of prison. I'm sure they worry for Officer Chavalia's safety, and what the coming days might bring.

Law and order proponents are upset because they feel like the only reason Chavalia was charged was to appease members of the community. They don't understand why an officer has be persecuted for simply following orders and doing his duty.

The city administration governs now a divided city. They know more marches, and possible violence, are on tap in the near future. They are aware that the negative press this has brought, and will continue to bring Lima, will make it even more difficult to convince folks that this is a good place to live and do business. And one would have to think that a federal investigation of the way the city runs its police department is a good probability right now.

And the citizenry still wait for details on what happened in that house that evening in early January. Without the facts, which were promised to be released to the community by the end of February, its impossible to know what was the Grand Jury was thinking when it handed this decision down. Maybe this is the most accurate and just indictment they could bring. Maybe it isn't. But still, we don't know because the prosecutor refuses to release the specifics.

Until then, all we can do is pray, asking God to guide and protect the citizens of our community and its public safety personnel. Fortunately, prayer seems to work, so we'll continue to wear out the knees of our pants.

Feel free to join us.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The End That Is The End, Again and Again

When it comes to church, I'm a lifer. Outside of maybe my first couple of years of college (when I attended St. Mattress of the Springs), I can't remember a time when I didn't attend church. Our family moved to Charleston, West Virginia when I was Eli's age. Since my parents were from Ohio, we didn't know anybody, so going to Trinity UMC was a step in getting socially connected. I just kept getting dragged along, and eventually, with friends of my own, I just kinda became involved. I never really envisioned it becoming a career choice. But now, here I am, a rotund, middle-aged, pasty, midwestern pastor.

It just sorta happened.

Anyhow, when I was a kid I always looked forward to Palm Sunday. Each year all the kids would be herded into the narthex outside of the sanctuary, given a palm purchased from some local florist, and then led into the sanctuary - palms waving to and fro - we'd march from front to back and around the sides. The organist would play some triumphant kind of music as we did this, and I can still the smiles on the faces - particularly the older ones - as we did our palm thing.

Of course, the best part of the whole morning was after we processed out, because we finally got to do what we wanted to do the moment they put those palm leaves in our hands: wail on one another in an epic palm leaf battle royal! This would only last until either a) the last palm had disintegrated on someone's face or b) some wuss would cry because they got hit with a glorified leaf. But no matter... Palm Sunday was a good Sunday. Almost like a pre-Easter Easter, where the lordship of Christ was celebrated.

That's the image of Palm Sunday I've had most of my life. Jesus on the colt. People celebrating along the road, palms waving. It was the validation of a three year mission to spread his message across the countryside. Jesus is the people's king. That's the way I've always envisioned it. And that's what kids in churches across the country, even again today, are re-enacting that vision we've had of that day.

Jesus: The People's King.

It wasn't until I got older, and read the scripture more closely, that I began to wonder if "the end" I had always known and believed, was really "the end" the Jesus lived.

First, let's get a couple of things straight about that original Palm Sunday. First, there are few things easy to miss because unless you dig a little deeper to understand the time and place, you'll miss some important aspects of the scene. To help understand this, let me use this example... The Great Depression is, for me, a period in history. It is words in a book, and stories my Grandmother Bucher told. It was much different for those who lived through it. It isn't a movie or a graduate level class in some collegiate history department. It was part of your life. You smelled it, saw it, touched it, heard it, and tasted it. Whatever slang was used, whatever rumors circulated, or whatever music or movies were popular you knew. "Hooverville" for me was an answer on a multiple-guess test sheet. For many of you, "Hooverville" was a place you feared to live.... or was at one time your home.

Same with Jesus' day. Archaeologists, scholars, and historians are helping us to uncover the whole story of Palm Sunday. The story some people lived, which is now the story we just read about. They've helped us understand a few things about that day.

First, its no accident that Luke tells us that Jesus is coming over the Mount of Olives, down to the eastern gate of the city. Much legend had arisen around the coming of the Hebrew messiah. In Jesus day, and for many, many years thereafter, the legend, which was partially derived from OT scripture, partially derived from Apocryphal literature, and partially developed from wherever else legends came from, stated that one of the signs that people would know who the messiah was, was that he would come from the east over the Mount of Olives, and through the eastern gate into the city, and the Temple. It was at this time that as the messianic age began, the book of Zechariah states that on this Mount would begin the resurrection of the dead, available to the messiah as warriors that would fight the battles necessary to free Israel from occupation and captivity.

We know that people from this world took these legends to be true. How? Well, to this day, the Mount of Olives is covered with graves and tombs. Graves and tombs filled with the bones of people who want to be among the first resurrected... ready to serve God.
This is picture of ancient tombstones that have been vandalized on the side of the Mount of Olives. More than 150,000 people have been, and continue to be, entombed here anticipating Zechariah's prophecy. So Luke, letting us know that Jesus is coming over the Mount of Olives is very significant. He is treading, what we know as the reader, to be making his last trek into the city over the route the messiah is supposed to take.

We also know this prophecy was taken pretty seriously in that there is no more Eastern Gate to the city of Jerusalem

As you can see from this photo, the gate to the city has been blocked in. And in front of it is an Arab cemetery. Apparently, in the 16th century, when the city was in the hands of the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslim, a sultan having heard this legend of the messiah coming into this gate one too many times, blocked in the gate so nobody could pass, and then put in an Islamic cemetery outside of the gate... presumably because, understanding Jewish ritual law, this made that ground unsuitable for a Jewish holy man to walk across. So, more than 1500 years after the death of Jesus, the legend has enough legs for a Islamic sultan to do everything in his power to quash it.

Just to take stock of where we are then... this image of Jesus, coming over the Mount of Olives and through the Eastern Gate into the city is an explosive image in his day. It is not just a religious or spiritual image... it is a political one. That all of this is happening to as the Passover begins - as pilgrims come from all over the known world home to celebrate their most sacred holiday - simply raises the expectations and hysteria of people in the street, and fear among those in power - religious and temporal - about what trouble this might lead to.

Even the palm branches themselves add to the politically charged atmosphere.

About a 170 years before Christ's birth, before Israel was under Roman rule, it was ruled by a descendant of Alexander the Great. In 167 BC, this Greek ruler decreed that the practice of Judaism was no longer legal. Led by a Jewish priest, the Maccabean Revolt through the Hellenist Greeks out of Israel, and for a short time - only about 30 years - Israel was somewhat self-ruled. These are coins minted by the Maccabees. You can see on the left coin the picture of a palm tree. Remember that every movement needs symbols, slogans, and rallying cries. The palm was for the Maccabees was such a symbol. Native to their land, free to anyone who wanted to wave one, the palm came to represent the idea of freedom and independence for Israel.

This scene isn't the innocent kind of celebration we were taught as kids. I had always thought that this was Jesus, the people's king, recognized for who he actually was... the Son of the Living God. Because I believed this image, crafted outside of the world Jesus lived, thousands of years after he'd been crucified, it was hard for me to understand why in the world, if the people chose Jesus on this day, why did they choose to crucify him instead of Barabbas just a few days later.

Well, the short answer is, that the vision we've been given in our churches about Palm Sunday hasn't been all that accurate. This is not a peaceful celebration of a messiah chosen by the common man, only to be rejected by those in power and authority. This is the final culmination of what Jesus has been saying throughout his ministry..... the message of the Gospel - a message of peace, love, and forgiveness - has been rejected by all. People hate occupation more than they love God. The hate had become so palatable, that even though Jesus hasn't killed anybody, or formed an army, or courted those ready to fight for Israel's freedom, it covers over his message in a scene thick with political, war-like, imagery.

Jesus knows where this will end. It is the end that is the end, again and again. An end so final, so destructive, that he surveys the scene he begins to weep.

And here's what strikes me about his weeping - these are not tears shed because he is fearful of his own demise. Make no bones about it, he knows this scene has sealed his fate. He is, like it or not, a political figure, dangerous to the status quo, too controversial to not be dealt with by those with power. Jesus is going to die, and he knows it.

But the weeping... the weeping is for the very people chanting "hosannas", plotting his demise in the Temple, and the thousands of innocent people who just want to live a peaceful, blessed life. For they have chosen the end that is the end, again and again.

And that end will be they're own.

"I wish that even today", Jesus said, "you would find the way of peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from you. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you. They will crush you to the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you have rejected the opportunity God offered you."

It is the end that is the end, again and again.... the choice we make to destroy ourselves. Choosing tyranny and violence and oppression, all in the name of the "greater good". Governments repeatedly make this choice. Rebels repeatedly make this choice. Communities repeatedly make this choice. Families repeatedly make this choice. Individuals repeatedly make this choice. The choice that Jerusalem made that day. Rejecting a way of reconciliation, and instead the ultimate destruction of the city not more than 40 years later. A rebellion, led by leaders who undoubtedly came over the Mount of Olives, waving palm branches to repeated "hosannas", marching through the Eastern Gate into the Temple, proclaiming one, last, fateful time:

Zechariah's promise will be fulfilled this day!!!!

Jesus beacons us. Jesus begs us. Let us put our anger, aggression, pain, loneliness, sense of failure or frustration, on his back. Let it be put to rest on the Cross of Calvary. Let that be the end that is the end of such foolishness, and let us choose a new way for our children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A way of peace that doesn't compromise the dignity of many in the name of keeping things quiet.

That's one thing I heard as we struggle to hold the city together right now... that we can't mistake quiet, as peace. Most suffering is done in quiet. In silence. That's probably the place where most dysfunction and anger grows. In silence, shrouded in secrecy, only to be unleashed in all its fury on a surprised, unsuspecting world.

He always seemed nice... always kept to himself.

I can't believe something like this would happen in a community like ours.

The choice on Palm Sunday offered to us is whether or not Good Friday will be enough for us. If the death and destruction on that day will be enough. If Easter can truly be our Easter, our rebirth and renewal... our end.

Or will our end be the end that is the end, again and again?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

5 Things I Think I Think

1) Hopefully this is the last great storm of this miserable winter. Seven inches of snow on top of a couple of inches of ice... and we didn't even get the worst of it. Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and points south saw 15-20 inches of snow, effectively shutting down the lower-half of the state. We tried sledding Saturday afternoon, but a fierce, cold wind from the northwest robbed us of whatever joy we should have derived from the experience. All in all, the weather just stinks, and everyone is ready for spring. Of course, this being March and Ohio, we could easily be looking at 50 degree weather in a couple of days... meaning widespread flooding.

Why do we live in the midwest again?

2) The weather took its toll on worship attendance this Sunday. With a Level One road emergency in Allen County until 9am, I canceled the 9am service. It's mostly an older crowd at that hour and I worry about folks trying to navigate a snow and ice covered parking lot early in the morning. People marveled at the number of people at the 11am service, but the numbers compared to most weeks were off. Considering the temps were in the mid-teens, and that northwest wind was still blowing, I can't say I'm surprised at the turnout.

It was a shame they weren't there, though, as this was our annual "Haiti Sunday". For thirteen years we've been sending teams to Haiti building various needed structures, digging wells, treating the sick, making small business loans, and checking in on 100+ students going to a school run by our sister church, Victory Christian Church in Bordes. It was good to hear the stories of Whitney Fisher (a high school student who did a senior project which involved drilling a well for a remote village), Larry Deitering (who supervised the making of more than $14k in small business loans), and of our medical team (who treated more than 600 people in four days of clinics). While the numbers were down at the service, interest was high in what the two teams we sent down did this winter. We ended the service with a nice lunch in the Solid Rock with members of the teams, their families, and some folks interested in possibly participating next year. All in all, it was a fine service, and more than $11,000 in gifts and pledges (and more to come) for the upcoming year's work.

3) Our Haiti, ministry, in all honesty though, is at a crossroads. In about 1999, Shawnee's involvement in Haiti mission work really began to ramp up. A member whose photography studio was bought by a national chain was able to motivate his company to begin investing money in sending teams from the company and our church to build schools. A vocational school in Van Wert, Ohio, began to support a Haitian vocational school that trains carpenters, a movement fueled by sending both students and teachers to go see and meet the Haitian students they were supporting. The passion of Pastor Marius at Victory Christian Church infected Shawnee's senior pastor, Joseph Bishman, fueling a rise in donations that enabled VCC's elementary school to rapidly grow. Ron Kinley, a former member now living in Portland, started the microeconomic loan program which gave mostly Haitian single mothers a way to provide for their families. Dave and Michelle Imler began leading medical teams, and started drawing up plans with our missionary partner, Living Hope Mission, to start a clinic that would serve communities without any kind of medical facility. For about eight or nine years the size and scope of what Shawnee and her partners were doing was growing, and the excitement at the church was palpable.

But nothing good comes easy, and as of 2008 we've encountered a number of obstacles that have presented us with a number of challenges. As law and order in Haiti continued to break down, Pastor Marius increasingly felt unsafe living at the church in Bordes, and decided to relocate to CapHaitian, robbing VCC of some of the momentum it had been experiencing. The clinic that Living Hope had established with Shawnee's help, folded when the nurse practitioner decided to leave in order to practice medicine on her own. The photography company continue to build schools in Haiti, but uses volunteers from their own company (and rightly so).

So we've come to a fork in the road. At this point I'll need to fly down to Cap sometime later this spring to do some listening in order to figure out what our future involvement will look like. Periodically ministries like these need recalibrating. Now is such a season.

4) We've lost another member of Aimee's family. Yesterday morning, Aimee's grandmother, Henrietta Little, passed away. She was 90 years old. This occurs but three weeks after the passing of Henrietta's husband, Sherman. Since both Sherm and Henrietta stopped attending worship years ago because of declining health, I'll be conducting her service (as I did his) It will be held at Foth Funeral Home (on Sylvania Avenue behind Franklin Park Mall) in Toledo, Friday at 1pm. After the service we'll gather at Rudy's Hot Dogs on Monroe Street (across from Franklin Park Mall) to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman.

Aimee and I in what seems like another lifetime ago, lived with Sherm and Henrietta for about a week. When we moved to Toldeo in 1997, we bought a house from the government in the Old West End for $30K. They took us in while we spent a good week tearing out old carpet, fixing plumbing, and generally making what had been a seized drug house, livable. I remember that on their Little's TV was a channel that seemed like it played Lawrence Welk 24 hours a day (gotta say that was a good motivator to go back after dinner and do more work on the house). I also remember that Henrietta used the words "a beer would go well with that" on more than a couple of occasions (hence us celebrating at Rudy's, a place where a beer went well with a hot dog). I also never saw the woman in anything but a dress and pearls (ala June Cleaver), and at that time she and Sherm were still out dancing at some various FOP Lodge or city park gazebo three or four nights a week. All in all, she was a proper lady, who liked to dance and have fun with friends and family. We're still grateful for their hospitality (bubble machine not withstanding) as we slowly got established in a new town, and two new jobs. We'll miss them both very much. You can click here for Henrietta's obituary in the Toledo Blade.

5) You know you have a big family when as you browse about Sam's Club, instead of chuckling at the huge boxes of cereal, bags of fruit, industrial size cans of fruit, you keep thinking, "Wow! What a great deal!". Or, when you pass a car lot, instead of seeing a Chevy Suburban and shuttering at the thought of what it must cost to fill that gas tank, you marvel at all the space. Such is our life now as we adjust to becoming a family of six. As we do this, know that both Mom and Toby are doing well, the brothers (including Eli) are excited at the prospect of now outnumbering 2-to-1, and that Sam's Club is now the primary store of choice when I grocery shop.

Oh... and if anyone has a Suburban they're looking to unload, give me a call.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tobias (Toby) Gabriel Bucher

This morning at about 1:20am we welcomed Tobias Gabriel Bucher into this world. He weighs 9 pounds and 4 ounces, and is 21.25 inches long. Both mother and baby are doing well. The only glitch in the whole evening was that Aimee's OB dropped the ball and forgot to tell her that she had to have an HIV blood test in order to use the birthing tub at the hospital. Thus we missed out again on an underwater birth.

For those who don't know, Bucher Boy #2 (Xavier) was born at home, under the care of a midwife, and with the assistance of a doula. You don't get a more hippy birth than that one. As a matter of fact, when it was all said and done, the midwife put the placenta in a plastic bag, and stuck it in a freezer. Several months later, when looking one night for something to grill, I found it buried under a bunch of frozen brats. Took us forever to figure out what it was. Tasted like chicken, though.

JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We didn't eat placenta. I just haven't slept in awhile and I'm a little punchy. We did misplace it though, and I did find it looking for something to grill, and it did take awhile for us to figure out what the heck it was. I think in the end we buried it under a tree or something very Earth Mother-ish.

In any event, Eli was scheduled to be born in a birthing tub at Lima Memorial Hospital, but her midwife ended up on vacation. The OB who covered didn't do underwater births, so strike one. Then this morning because she didn't want to pay for a test she knew she didn't need, the nurse said "nyet". Forget the fact that they'd use about 100 gallons of disinfectant to clean the thing after we were done. Once again my lovely wife was left to hard labor, no drugs, and nothing but sheer will to bring our baby into the world. Strike two.

And, God willing, there will be no third pitch. Game over.

She did great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She lost her mucus plug around nine. We went to the hospital at 11:3o. We were kissing Toby at 1:30am. The nurses were so impressed with Aimee's performance that all of them on the floor came in to watch the show. Two who remembered Eli's birth, expressed regret that we wouldn't be back again (me having "paid the piper" last January).

Can't say we shared their dismay.

In any event, we were told that labors done without the aid of narcotics or by C-section are becoming fewer and far between. Aimee refused both, and did very, very well. Considering the pain she went through (I think I heard the words, "Baby Get Out of There" a few times there toward the end) we are fortunate things went as smoothly, and all are well.

But since Bucher Boy #2 was born at home, Aimee's tolerance for hospitals plummeted. She wants to be in her own bed, with her own family, with her own husband making her omelets (a favorite, for some reason, after she gives birth). That's why after baby was checked out by Dr. Eric the Buckeye, we went home.
People think she's nuts, but really as long as I'm busting my hump, and we erect the barbed wire around the room to keep the other kids away from her, home, she'll tell you, ain't so bad. Considering she downed a four-egg ham and cheese omelet by Chef Bryan before laying down, I'd say things are getting off to a great start.

Thanks everyone for the continued prayers and thoughts. We give thanks for you all. May you experience the kind of grace I did today, when I laid my eyes on a beautiful baby boy. It was grace upon the grace that moment, just as it was the other three. Grace upon grace.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I've Lost My Mucus Plug

I don't care how many times you become a father, every time your pregnant wife announces she's lost her mucus plug, it's always a stunner.... that and it conjures up a pretty nasty image. In any event, we apparently are sans mucus plug while contractions grow stronger, so we're heading down the home stretch. Stay tuned as Baby Bucher #4 continues to make his way into the world.