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Handwashing to the O Antiphons: Emmanuel

Most nativity stained glass has a gratuitously blond Christ child... Get real, stained glass makers! This photo by Kencf0618 on Flickr.

Much nativity stained glass has a gratuitously blond Christ child… Get real, stained glass makers! This photo by Kencf0618 on Flickr.

Welcome to the last day of my kinda quixotic immunocompromised-Advent series on handwashing to the O Antiphons. The last O Antiphon corresponds to the first verse of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” (yes, the last shall be first!):

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear. [Protestants rinse]
Rejoice! Rejoice! [plainsong users rinse]
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

But it doesn’t correspond all that closely. According to a random Catholic website I saw, the original was

 O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people: Come and set us free, Lord our God. {Or, in Latin, O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domines, Deus noster.]

Since the hymn writer shunted “desire of nations” to another verse, he put in a whole bit about Israel and exile, which is an essential part of the Bible, but I miss the “king” part and the “savior of all people” part.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.

Handwashing to the O Antiphons: Key of David

Monday I started putting up the O Antiphons, in their “O Come O Come Emmanuel” version–today’s Messianic title is “Key of David”:

O come Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery. [Protestants rinse]
Rejoice! Rejoice! [plainsong users rinse]
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

This random Catholic website I found gives an antiphon version that clarifies what locks the key opens:

“Key of David, O royal Power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.

Second time’s a blog.

When I survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma six years ago, everyone kept asking if I was going to write about it. And heck no, I sure wasn’t. I believe that God is there for each one of us every minute of every day, but the way God chose to be there for me at the time, when I first got diagnosed and then again after the first-line chemo failed, was to give me grace to be merely pathologically anxious rather than batcrap insane.

Probably God was offering more than that … I may have a leetle bit of a history of difficulty internalizing grace.

Anyway, in 2006 the nice folks at Johns Hopkins gave me chemo so strong that first they had to take out some of my stem cells (bone marrow, but without the bone-drilling) and freeze it so that afterwards they could re-infuse it back into me to re-start my immune system. I slowly got back some hair and energy and normal blood counts, and went back to my dream job at a progressive Christian magazine, and after a couple years it started to become clear that my lymphoma was, against the odds, cured. And a year and 10 months ago at the Catholic Worker I met a pacifist with a Ph.D. who writes good poetry and goes to church even more often than I do, and we’ve been dating.

Then, just as I was planning a big six-year hey-they-cured-my-cancer party, it turned out I have cancer again. It’s myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), abnormal cells in my bone marrow which will turn into leukemia unless cured. So, after four to six months of preliminary treatment, I’m going back to Hopkins for a “mini” stem cell transplant, with the goal of donor marrow (from one of my sisters or my dad) having an immune response and destroying the malignant cells.

This time, I feel weirdly calm most of the time—which is, as someone at church pointed out, literally peace that passeth understanding. Also, I seem to have some of the deep thoughts that everyone expected me to have last time. Hence, the blogging.

Here’s the main deep thought: Cherish each moment, even the ones that suck. I’ve experimentally verified that you can’t predict the future, but you can screw up the present moment obsessing about the future. Or you can be present in the moment, whether you’re weeping or worshipping or eating a carrot or looking at a glorious dandelion or just breathing.

Presence takes practice. But it’s so worth it.

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.