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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Do you think you don’t matter because you can’t do “big” things anymore? Click here to read a short entry on the blog of a Benedictine monk..

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Being where I am.

 
Four simple words, yet I am coming to understand they are vital and far more complex than I can yet fully grasp.

 
Being where I am.

 
Being attentive to this moment, fully.   Not dividing my attention when someone is speaking to me. Instead, listening in the deepest sense; reigning in wandering thoughts, irritations. Stopping what I am doing to focus. God created that person – more than enough reason to stop, to respect, to remember.

 
Being where I am.

 
Looking out my window from my bed what earthly thing should I yearn for? I am warm, I am safe, and other lives are other lives, not mine. This moment is given to me; it can be mindless or mindful. It can be drifting in much-needed rest and gratitude that I can have it. It can be an offering. It can be a simple enjoyment of a puzzle, a book, a view. Those are offerings, too, if I am mindful – if I am truly where I am.

 
The indescribable totality of this disease is often harder than I think I can stand and I can only pray “Either cure me or help me cope!” And then I do cope, but not by my own strength.

 
Being where I am.

 

A key to contentment, to acceptance, to
Peace.

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It was marvelous!

It is winter here, more often gray than not. Sometimes everything has seemed gray, neither this color nor that.  Just – gray.  I have been very ill, sliding steadily downward for some months culminating finally in leaving my bed for only very short periods.  In times like those, I am easily haunted by “what if” whispers.  I pray for the graces God knows I need, I distract myself with books, puzzles and TV if the migraine monster isn’t visiting. Since he’s been visiting far more often than not (and bringing his other ME/CFS buddies with him), well, “gray” is the nicest description I can manage.

But today – ahh today!  Marvelous!

Today in this winter place, gray did not dominate.  The sun shone in a brilliantly blue sky and lured me as memories surfaced of how I’ve coped in the past.  Whispers, promises…”Come and see, you know I show you treasures, come and see…”

Yes, I know, I sound loony but I’ve always been a bit of an oddball – not such a bad trait, I’ve come to think.

Unable to resist the lure and remembering that forcing myself outside for even a few minutes has been one of my survival tools during the long decades of this disease, I decided to go out.  Wanting all the good things that sunlight can bring, I left off sunscreen and sunglasses – another of my survival tools to let my skin contribute to the making of vitamin D and my eyes be the conduits of chemical balancing.  It doesn’t take long, only a few minutes.

I bundled up and leaning on my cane told my husband with a smile “If I don’t come back, check behind the hill.”  I knew that a walk down the road was not within my reach, but with the benches set around the yard, I should be able to make the circuit.  And out the door I went.

WOW it is COLD out here!  But oh, the sun is shining, I hear birds!

I began to walk toward the hill, intending to go around the back of it and taking my usual route.  I stopped.  “I always go this way, counterclockwise” I thought and abruptly changed my direction to the opposite.

I walk to the property line and pause, lifting my face to the sun.  Looking down again, I see the section of split rail fence my husband put here years ago and realize there is lichen growing on it.  Here is life on dead wood. Whole colonies are thriving; the wood long dead yet here is new life.  I find myself smiling and whispering, “New life on dead wood” thinking I’d found today’s treasure. As the pitchmen say, though, “But wait!  There’s more!”

I came to the side of the pond, smiling at the churned up tracks of all the animals that come to drink here, smiling too at the sight of a junco sneaking a sip under the brush at the base.  I think how nice it is for the animals that a recent thaw caused the ice to recede a few inches and give them open water at the edges.  It is too cold to sit and watch as I would normally do, so I move on.

As I reach the side of the hill, I find my gaze drawn upward and though I know I can’t follow that path today, I am still happy in the cold breeze and the brilliant sun.  How could I have forgotten how much this effort always lifts my spirit?

I stop in my tracks. 

Did I just see what I think I did?

Ohh!  There it is again!  What a jewel in the sun and right in front of me!  As brilliant as the bluest sky is the male Eastern Bluebird not twelve feet away.  He dips to the ground then up to a branch, glowing in the winter sun.  Another!  I know they are shy so I don’t move.  After a moment of watching, they seem to decide I am not a threat and resume their typical dip-and-up feeding pattern.  I watch until the cold bites so hard I must move, but grinning now so widely I chuckle inside to think how I must look.

Suddenly I realize I am surrounded out there behind the hill by woodpeckers, juncos, chickadees, and too many more to name.  Such life!  Such abundance!  My God does this!  I am transported with a joy I have not felt in a long time.  “Thank you – thank you!” I whisper both inside myself and out.

I make my way back toward the house, excited by the thought of telling my husband what I’ve seen.  The neighbor’s dog catches sight of me and begins to bark.  I know him to be a big baby who probably doesn’t recognize the figure in the bulky winter coat as someone he knows.  So I call to him in silly talk and begin to walk toward that side of the property.  I have the neighbor’s permission to visit the dog anytime I like and I decide that maybe I can manage it.

Just then my neighbor comes outside to see why the dog is barking, seeing each other we call out and meet by the dog for a visit.  Silly, giant dog, delighted that I’ll toss his slimy Frisbee for him, makes us both laugh; so tough – such an act.  More delight for me.

Suddenly my strength leaves me and I must head inside quickly – but I am still smiling.  How could I have forgotten how much these little things help?  The migraine monster is coming back as I type this but even he can’t touch my joy today.

Life growing on dead wood,

Bluebirds upstaging the sky,

Silly dogs, friendly neighbors,

My God does marvelous things!

Peace.

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One need not have a monastic vocation or be drawn to the Benedictine to understand the struggle.  We all struggle in many ways.

As I struggle with this disease and the effects of it on my life, as I desire so deeply to be ever more in love with God yet fall down daily in my seeking, I find myself praying almost constantly both with words and without, “I can’t do this without You.”
This post by Fr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B which shares a poem by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, an early Iberian Christian poet, speaks deeply to me. I hope it speaks to the readers here as well.

Peace.

Becketmonk

We too are those disciples in the boat sent by Jesus to the other side of the sea.  In the words of the early Church writer, Origen, “Faith is learned by risk.”  During the fourth watch of our nights, how will we manage the winds and waves of our lives?  Will we hold true to our faith, to our monastic vocation?

Reflecting on these questions, Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, an early Iberian Christian poet, writes this:

Thus I by my loquacious tongue

From the heaven of silence am led

Into perils unknown and dark.

Not as Peter, disciple true ,

Confident in his virtue and faith,

I am one who unnumbered sins

Have shipwrecked on the rolling seas….

How easily can I be shipwrecked,

One untaught in seafaring arts,

Unless you, Almighty Christ,

Stretch forth your hand with help divine.

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Drought.

*

Pond recedes

Cold depths remain

Lives flourish

unaware

of larger

 concerns.

*

Boulder tip revealed

Sign

rarely seen

We need

rain.

*

Surface concerns

Depths undisturbed

It was always

 there

unseen.

*

World drawn back

Hidden  revealed

Sun graces

cold

stone.

*

Turtles rise

leave darkness

Claw and muscle

strive for

warmth.

*

 Radiance or cloud

rock is comfort

Between worlds

turtles

 know.

*

Peace.

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You might think that as I approach yet another anniversary with this disease and that since I’m no spring chicken either (I’d have to make the Guinness Book of Records to still call myself “middle-aged” though I’m sticking with the label anyway) I’d be smarter.

Yes, you might think that – but you’d be wrong.

I’ve written here and spoken many times to others about making the tough choices to live well with chronic illness. Hang on a sec, what’s that in the mirror? Whew, I thought my forehead had “doofus” written on it! I’m pretty sure that I deserve the label even if it’s not showing up in the mirror at the moment.

It took until very early this morning to make me see more clearly that I cannot live well with this disease, be true to my beliefs and still drive myself crazy when what I usually view as a choice or decision comes into play. Okay, I know, I’m rambling again – here we go…

The day before yesterday was pretty rough in terms of strength. I had none. So yesterday when I woke feeling even worse, I wasn’t too surprised to end up in the stinky embrace of the Migraine Monster. September was a relatively easy month in terms of migraines so I tried hard to just go with it and not think too much about the loss of what little up-time I get in a day.

I do have at least some appreciation for how fortunate I am even in the midst of the monster attacks.  I count my many blessings backwards and forwards and they are breathtaking in their expanse.  You might think that would make me humble and again – you’d be wrong.

In the grip of the stinky Migraine Monster’s embrace, I realized that it was Tuesday and that meant I’d probably have to miss the Scripture study group at church that I’ve been going to.  It meets once a week in the evening for two months at a time and then is off for two months.  Take note, please, of that word in italics “probably.”

At the best of times the physical toll of going to that group is almost more than I can bear.  Yet there I was, wondering just where to place the drop cloth to catch the mess when my head would finally explode through my eyeball (gross, eh?) and I’m thinking I would PROBABLY  have to miss it?  Granted, I have the blessing of triptans to abort the attacks but they work only about 50% of the time if I am very careful.  Going out to a meeting that involves sitting  upright in a sadistically designed metal folding chair for an hour and a half is not being very careful – not ever  – let alone on a migraine day!   I know that.  I knew that.  Yet I still felt I had to make a choice.  Until the very moment it would have been time to leave I still thought “maybe I should go – it’s not that bad right now.”

Credit my husband with common sense, not me.  I don’t want to think about how many times I asked his opinion before I let him go without me.

Credit God and knowing I’d just posted here that I wanted to be accountable for better integrating my spiritual life with this disease for doing what I could do; praying Evening Prayer (aka Vespers) instead.

And then the kidney stones began to move.

Yep, this disease will truly mess with every single system.  Neurological, endocrine, immune and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Lately, it’s been messing with them all at one time but those stones really topped it off.

I was going to go that meeting despite a migraine attack.  Unbeknownst to me, the chills I’d developed in the later hours were the foreshadowing of kidney stones, but no matter what the cause, I was going to go to that meeting because I had a choice!  I had to make a decision!

At 3:00am as the kidney stones became only occasional zings, I finally understood the only decision I really have in life with this disease and I committed to it long ago.  I understood it thanks to the wisdom of a priest who recently submitted to being pummeled by my Niagara Falls of words and anguish about “am I trying hard enough.”   I heard him at the time but it took new life in the wee hours after a really hard day.

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

It’s a balance – again with the balance!

I don’t actually have choices and decisions in these matters beyond that.   All these years I’ve sought  permission to see to what I need. Yet all that time I not only had permission, I was actually commanded to love myself, too.  I would not do to a neighbor what I do to myself.  Where is the balance in that?

There was no decision to be made yesterday, no choice.   Only that sweet voice of invitation saying I am loved and telling me to extend that love to everyone else;  including myself.  I have been making it all so complicated and so muddled.

It is all so simple.

 

Peace.

 

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Recently, I read something which moved me so deeply that I contacted the author and asked permission to post it here.  Receiving a resounding “Yes!… for His glory!” I post the following – may it inspire all who struggle.

Peace.

 

From her book, Wow God by Sister Francis Clare, S.S.N.D. :

 

I will open for you every door I want

and close those I do not want . . .

 

When you are beset by doubts, know that

I am still here. These plans are My plans,

not yours. You’ve asked to be used by

Me and I’ve told you that I will use you.

The plan is Mine to work out. I’ve not

given the plan to you.

 

I’m only asking you to be My tool. The

hammer does not know what the

carpenter is doing. It only follows the

hand of the carpenter. I will pick you up

and I will lay you down. When I need

you I will use you. I know what I am

doing. I know what I am building. All I

ask is that you be on hand when I need

you.

 

Because I have called you a hammer, do

not think that I despise you. A carpenter

loves his tools and the more he loves

them, the better he handles them and the

better work they will do for him.

 

I have many tools. They are arrayed

before Me and I pick the one I need. Be

content to lie still if I do not need you,

for I know where you are and I will pick

you up when I need you.

 

 

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