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Letters by Sarah Vekasi
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December 18, 2012


Dear friends,

This is a pretty rough letter to write just before solstice, but here goes. Last week I had to bring myself into the emergency room after losing vision in my left eye. I seriously thought all I needed were some glasses, as I got my new home ready for my folks to visit for the holidays, but after going to an optometrist followed immediately by a neuro-ophthalmologist, I was rushed to the hospital for a swollen optical nerve, or optical neuritis. The cause is still unknown, and ranges all over a scary spectrum of auto-immune issues, with no real ideas yet. I did have a normal MRI (yay!) and a whole lot of tests taken and what it seems like now is that I am in for a bit of a longhaul with medical tests and treatment over the next bunch of months. I cannot drive of course, and am pretty much home bound, although I can walk around and love visits and calls and friends. I am praying for a complete recovery. As you can guess, what I really have to do is rest, and take as much care as I can to de-stress and let the high-dose steroids work. My parents left Maine and came down to North Carolina once I was admitted to the hospital and will be with me for a few weeks, and time will reveal more.

In the meantime, it is really hard to let go of all the stress of day to day while medical bills are piling up all around me, and the year is coming to an end. I have been working full time with the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative in Appalachia since the summer of 2009, and I do actually have some health care coverage (yay). I have a $5000 deductible plan with 100% coverage once that is met. Hooray for that at least. Since this is happening right as the year is changing, I am going to have to pay the deductible twice, plus I already know of more costs for specialist visits, etc. So, I need to raise $12,400 for medical expenses on top of the $12,000 I raise per year for salary. Grand scary total: $24,400. Can you please help?

I know it is unconventional in our society to ask so straight forward for financial help. It makes me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. But I want to live in a world where asking for help when we need it is not shameful but straightforward, just like I coach people who call me up as their chaplain. And I really really want to live in this world of ours, in the best health I can, so I can keep working as an eco-chaplain to the best of my ability.

Since the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative is a non-profit, all donations can be tax-deductible, and made online at http://www.ecochaplaincy.net/donate.html, or in the mail to my new mailing address at: Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, PO Box 1114, Black Mountain, NC 28711.

If anyone is up for doing a matching grant or helping me fundraise, please don’t hesitate to call me at 828-333-1884, email sarahsunshine@riseup.net, or send a letter by mail. Thank you all so much. If you would be willing to spread the word by forwarding this or asking friends, I will be forever grateful. I really hope to raise the money so I can focus on the rest of the healing process.

I will close with a little of my hospital thoughts:

Here, at the darkest time of the year, our need to help one another see is more clear than ever. If you help me walk, you will notice that I cannot tell the difference between a crack on the concrete and a steep dropoff – my depth of field is missing - so I need your elbow and reassuring voice. Isn’t our country a little like that right now? Horrors beyond horror in Connecticut, and we are all on edge. Our first important remedy: true space for grief; and coming together; and helping each other feel our way past cracks and down steep slopes. I am so grateful for all the gestures of kindness, and pray, really pray that we can all find a way to make space for healing. For grief, for glee, for love, and for the intimate miracles of the mundane.

Breathing in, I know you all are reading this letter,

Breathing out, I love you.


Thank you so much,


Pottery for sale: www.sarahsunshinepottery.com