I am so happy to be able to post in my blog today. As many of you know, I am having difficulty writing, but today I am blessed with the ability to write to you.
I read an article written during the holiday season named Less Later, More Now! by a blind woman named Marcia Morrissey.
She talks about the stress of the things that we think we have to do for holiday preparations ” which often keep us “too busy” to light a candle and say a prayer, or read a bit of scripture, or that make us tell family members “later” when they need us “now.”
I think this happens in every day life, not just during the holiday period. I go back once again to one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, who talked about getting trapped in the “noise of humanity” and not stopping to listen to the silence of the spirit and learn what nourishes and feeds our soul and the souls of others.
I have seen a tragic pattern as I have read the countless stories of people in chronic pain or frontal temporal degeneration (FTD). So many people who are carergivers and people who have chronic and terminal illnesses find the support of family members, friends, even fellow church members slip away. These people gradually disappear from their sick friend or sick relatives life. They consider themselves well meaning but they are too busy, caught up in the “noise of humanity”. While living their daily lives, they feel burdened down as it is. I understand these are hard times.
There is work that has to be done then there is “busy” work. Busy work I consider those things we do to distract ourselves. Or maybe you are out of work right now, you’ve put in all the resumes you are able. You are feeling down so you veg out in front of the television. I know about feeling down and vegging in front of the TV. We don’t have good cable where we are living now and I am still suffering from Turner Classic Movie channel withdrawal.
When you aren’t doing anything purposeful could you drive over and spend a little time with a caregiver or your relative or friend who is ill? I can tell you this, one visit from you can make their day a good day and the bright spot in their week.
A little attention goes a long way. Perhaps you could do something, even the smallest thing would help. If you can’t spend any time going to see them or you live too far away, then call them, send an email or a message on Facebook.
(To my friends, I’m not trying to guilt you into sending a message to me. I know you are there.)
Try for a minute to look at it from their point of view. You have gone for many years thinking you had a close relationship with your family and friends. Many times you have talked about how you would be there for each other if anything happened.
Then you find out you have a terminal illness. You expect those dearest to you will come to you and say, “What can I do?” And what happens? Your mother cries, “Why does this have to happen to me?”. Your father shuffles back and forth for awhile, claps his hand on your shoulder then walks off to another room. Your children stare at you with disbelief, run upstairs to google your illness then come back downstairs and confront you with the news that they found a site that says your disease is not terminal. Your sister is in total denial and your brother, who is a doctor, treats you like a difficult patient instead of the best friend who always understood you.
This unfortunately is not an unusual response. It is quite common.
But then you have to make the choice, do I exit now out of life or choose to go on? I have chosen to go on.
Understanding that my spiritual self is my true self that journeys on through eternity has helped me to live with the horrible maladies that I face. What we are afflicted with in human terms may be blessings and opportunities in spiritual terms. We have to go on with what we have — like the blind woman or like the guy typing with his toes because he has no use of his arms or me using Dragon speak to dictate — and do what we can in the world. I think to get through adversity you have to look at this world in more than merely human terms.
There is a difference between the human worldly goods and gifts and things we desire and the spiritual values. What on a human level is a disaster — to be afflicted with a fatal disease — spiritually may be a blessing. It is terrible to suffer pain and loss, and to suffer from compassion for others that are suffering. Spiritually those sufferings can have a spiritual purpose, to make us stronger, more compassionate, to have more understanding, and to grow spiritually. Here in this world, now, with the afflictions and burdens we have to carry.
In my own life one of the major burdens that I have no one can see: I continually have to keep the dam up against the flood of unruly thoughts that the death of the neurons in my brain is causing. Unruly is a mild word. The voices, the thoughts, are not mild. It can be exhausting just to sit, to all outward appearances, quietly.
As I may have written before, I have spent some time reading the writings of the Saints. Two that I feel are my companions in suffering are Julian of Norwich and St. John of the Cross. I did not ask for three wounds from God as did Julian of Norwich. Her words of suffering have been a companion in my suffering. I share with her the one of the gifts — wounds — that God bestowed upon her, which is compassion.
I also have found comfort reading the poem, Dark Night of the Soul. Like St. John, I have sought a personal relationship with God. God is the Beloved and I have a place within “where no one else can come.” Although when I was growing up, I went to a fundamental Christian church every Sunday, I had an amazing experience when I was 13.
I was vacationing with my family in Red River, New Mexico. We were staying in a lodge in the mountains. I was reading a romance novel, sitting on a log. I closed the book ad exclaimed to a squirrel, “I am totally bored.” I decided to go for a short walk. I followed a path and about after 15 minutes, I looked around me and noticed the forest had changed. All of the trees had brilliant colored leaves. The brook I noticed was wider and many beautiful fish swam in a pond nearby.
I looked around and saw a beautiful man in a yellow robe sitting not to far away from me. I knew he was Jesus because he was my conception of Jesus. He motioned and I laid my head on his lap. He stroked my hair and said words to me that I don’t remember. I felt as if I had come home. All worries left my mind. I fell asleep and when I awoke he was gone.
I ran down to tell my brother and he believed because he always use to believe me. I took him back up the path but we could not find the place. My brother still believed me. I knew this was not something I could share with my family. They would tell me it was a fantasy and it was pagan for me to say that I saw Jesus that way. Jesus just did not come to individual people in visions anymore.
But I kept this experience inside my heart and after I met my spiritual teacher, I realized I could have a personal relationship with God that needed no intercession. God is my “Divine Beloved.”
There is a story from the East of a famous saint to whom God appeared as a beautiful girl of sixteen. He was so tormented by the absence of his beloved when she did not appear, that he felt he had to abase himself to get her to return, to the point of licking dog droppings in the street.
I also have taken much comfort from reading the words from Rumi about his divine Beloved.
The reason I am sharing these personal relationships with God is that this relationship has kept me strong. I have lost just about everything that people lose at one time or another.
In her article Mary quoted the Scripture readings of the third Sunday of Advent, Isaiah 35:1-10:
“…They will see the glory of the lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak. Say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong fear not! Here is your God; with divined recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag. Then will the tongue of the mute sing. Those the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing crowned with everlasting joy; they will be with joy and gladness. Sorrow and mourning will flee.”
It is wonderful to read these words promising what will happen after we have shed this mortal suit.
Many of you are familiar with the passage that Mary quoted in her article, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk…the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them, and blessed is the one who takes no offense in me.”
Many take this passage to mean that Jesus is saying he is “The One.” I don’t discount this meaning
For me, this passage has an additional meaning, now and for everyone with ears to hear. The one who is blessed is anyone who realizes that their true self is their spiritual self and who acts accordingly: walk their spiritual path and nourish their spiritual needs. The truth is good news to the poor, to understand that all material gains are not real, that they will pass away in a short time, but you can gather what makes you spiritually rich, and that can last for an eternity. The dead are raised are those who were dead to their spiritual self. For the lame, no legs are required to walk with your true body — your spiritual self. The blind can come to see the spiritual truth.
It is hard for people to understand about blessings. A huge loss, psychological and physical pain, such things are not blessings within themselves. But if you can understand that what we see around us, this mortal world is only a fraction or perhaps a distorted perception of the real world. We are all spiritual beings, connected in ways that are hard for us to conceive. We are busy ants carrying crumbs. Any good or bad intention you have starts crafting a design that you do not see until it comes back into this world and affects you and others in ways you may or may not expect.