By Stanley Campbell
I hate hospitals. Let me rephrase that. I dislike going into hospitals, even to visit sick friends. So, when my friend Chris suggested visiting Rod Myers in Intensive Care, I reluctantly went. But only because I loved Rod.
I first met Mr. Myers at Rock Valley College. Rod was a wheelchair-bound long-haired hippie radical environmentalist back in the ’70s. He introduced himself as, “I’m one of Jerry’s gimps” (meaning Jerry Lewis, who does a telethon for muscular dystrophy).
Rod had a wicked sense of humor, as well as a joyful way of sticking his nose into whatever issue he wanted. His first concern was mobility, as anyone strapped in a chair and dependent upon ramps and elevators would be. Rod was not afraid to make his needs known. He encouraged curb cuts where once a new sidewalk had gone. The college acquiesced, and is better for it, as well as the city.
Though he demanded more pavement for wheelchair accessibility, his greatest love was wild places. Wherever he lived, he had a patch of prairie growing that he cultivated and kept an eye on. He could name all the birds and plants that, to me, just looked like weeds and flying mice.
Now, he was fighting for his life, and it looked like he was losing.
His Baptist brother had laid a real heavy load on him to “come to Jesus.” But Rod did not like the fundamentalist view of nature. I leaned over Rod and said that Christ loved the earth, and was more of an environmentalist than his conservative followers. “When you see Him, ask for more activists down here,” I said.
I don’t want to remember Rod in that hospital room, dying. Rather, I like to think he just rode down the path at Severson Dells and never returned.
I’d like to dedicate the following announcement to Rod’s memory: “Faith at the End of Your Fork,” a day-long workshop program, will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday April 28, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1829 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford, across from West Middle School. Registration is $10 and $10 for a healthy lunch.
Keynote speaker Anna Lappe wrote Diet for a Hot Planet as a sequel to her mother’s (Frances Moore Lappe) Diet for a Small Planet. Anna connects the dots between diet and climate change, and, thus, shares personal, local, national and international food justice issues.
Workshops include information about Food and Faith (“My Spiritual Journey as a Vegetarian,” “To Tithe: Plant Row,” “Bread in Empire: The Lord’s Prayer”); Food Practicum (“Starting Your Own Garden,” “Shopping at a Farmers’ Market,” “Purchasing Faithful Meals”); and Food Justice Workshops (“How to Lobby for Food Justice,” “The Meatrix”), to name a few. Registration is $10, and an organic lunch will be provided for a $10 donation.
Sponsors include the Justice and Witness Committee of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ, Vegetarians in Motion, Rockford Urban Ministries, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, the United Church of Byron, Bread for the World — Rockford, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Spring Creek United Church of Christ.
For more information and to register, please contact Michael Mulberry, United Church of Byron, (815) 234-8777; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay healthy and live a long and prosperous life.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the April 18-24, 2012, issue