Archives for category: love

For several weeks now I have been trying to think of the word “focus” whenever I go up or down steps. That must sound like a very strange thing, and you may be wondering what does that mean? I will try to explain. Since about mid-September my leg has been trying to heal from a bad fall that resulted from trying to climb up on the concrete edge of a flower bed that runs the length of my house. I had just awakened and needed to see if my window was damaged from something I heard hit it the night before. I wasn’t fully awake, and just started to climb up to the window’s height like I have always climbed up on things.

This was were “judgment” or “critical thinking” should have stepped in but did not. My body no longer has the balance or strength it used to have, so in trying to climb up I started falling. I had a choice—-I could land on my back on the hard ground or I could stop my fall by hitting the flower bed edge with my left calf. I chose the latter.

I probably escaped a concussion, broken hip, or broken back (I have osteopenia, the pre-cursor to osteoporosis). But what happened instead turned out to be a real nightmare. I hit hard enough that I thought I would look down and find a bad bruise starting to develop. Instead, I found a bad cut that would not stop bleeding. I had discovered that concrete edges can be very sharp.

The bleeding would not stop when I applied pressure so I ended up calling 911. The responders were wonderful, and they got me to the emergency room. They started an IV and measured my vital signs on the way there. My blood pressure was something like 82/64—-weird enough and low enough to scare this retired nurse who usually has hypertension. I realized that I just might be going into shock. The doctor who saw me in the emergency room “sewed me up”—–it took 35 stitches, some of them internal. The doctor said I was very lucky I did not break my leg. The hospital billed me for surgery.

My wound has still not fully healed even though October and November have come and gone…..but it is very close to being so. I’ve had to cushion the wound all this time so that I would not bump something and open it back up. Being a diabetic I am most grateful for the slow healing; the alternative would have been much worse.

So, I have been trying to discover a way to remind myself to “think” before I try to do something that seems relatively easy for the body I used to have and, most importantly, to pay attention to my balance which has emerged as a major culprit in my tendency to fall. I finally thought of the word “focus.” My sister who works with special needs children tells me they teach those who cannot accurately judge where their body is spatially located to “plan their motor.” I tried that. All I could visualize was a motor in a car. That didn’t help.

So I bought a “flower-power” quad cane (see photo) when my doctor told me to start using a cane on a regular basis. I have been using it, but sometimes I do not either because I forget to pick it up or I don’t want to go in a store with it and forget to pick it up before I move on. Now, I try to think “focus” when I recognize and react to anything that might negatively interact with my balance problems (mild vertigo) or my problems with three dimensional perception. I don’t always remember the magic word “focus”—-but it is helping. Hence the title for today’s blog, “Focus, Focus. Hocus Pocus.”

The magic comes with my growing ability to accept myself as I am in the current moment. The “aging challenges” have been difficult for me to accept because my subconscious seems to create a constant self-image of someone who is thirty or more years younger. Oddly enough, this morning’s sermon in church was about the need to transition—– the need to work at accepting change and to realize even the specific change we’ve adapted to can also change instantaneously.

Today’s gospel reading in church was from Luke 21: 25-36 in which Jesus says, among other things, that “Heaven and earth will pass away.” This is the first time I heard that heaven would also pass away. What did that mean? So, on the way out of church I asked my priest. She explained that there is no one answer to that, and that it is an invitation to go within and find out what it means. She further explained that when I have discovered my answer to let go of it and keep searching as things will always be changing.

I have never thought of heaven as passing away even though I have come to belief that heaven is a state within each soul where God, love, and compassion dwell—–and from which our thinking and actions can, with our permission, be guided so that things may be “on earth as in heaven.” Of course, due to my Ozark upbringing, I still tend to think of heaven as a destination as well as a way of being in constant relationship with our Creator. To be honest, no one really knows what “heaven” is, and every one must search out that changing meaning for themselves.

I have thought of myself as an “evolving elder” for quite some time now, and I am just beginning to understand that means both my physical state and my spiritual state. I am focusing at this moment on trying to comprehend that change will always be active both within and outside myself—-as well as throughout the eternity of an ever-changing individually perceived heaven. All the different change theories I taught during my time as a professor have either just taken on new meaning or need to be discarded. The one constant that is, has, and will be is the need to “let go” and accept a change that will, in turn, change. The twelve step concept of “Letting go and Letting God” is not only a lesson for the present but for eternity.

Advertisements

cross
This is one of those times when I need to write and write fast in order to get my fleeting thoughts typed before they fly away. Twelve Step folks teach us to let go of resentments, and many of us pray to be forgiven as we have forgiven others.
I went to church this morning for the first time in months because I have had multiple physical problems. I have sat through the familiar words of my church’s communion process many times, but this time something different happened in my head. Maybe it was because I’d just heard and felt a sermon about how God loves us and we need to love others. This was accompanied by the statement that our minds have their own “auto-correct” in place that can blind us to what is actually true and real.
As I was praying I suddenly thought, “Oh, My God! I need to forgive God!” Now, I know to some that may sound blasphemous, but perhaps it won’t seem so ridiculous if I explain the “auto-correct” I’ve been wrestling with for decades. I basically view father figures as authoritarian and harsh, and, in fact, I have experienced moderate physical  and non-physical “abuse” as a child and non-physical abuse as an adult in my last marriage. My “auto-correct” has been set on the concept of male-driven abuse for most if not all of my life.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with needing to forgive God?” The “auto-correct” God I encountered in religion that took root in my heart and mind caused me to view Christ’s crucifixion as a father’s child-abuse of His son. When I considered the crucifixion in terms of the trinity it began to seem like self-abuse and/or suicide. I have had years of trouble reconciling these automatic “mental reflexes” with the God whom I know has been loving, kind, and forgiving to me as well as giving me the gift of multiple miracles.
Fortunately, I have been working on accepting that God and the Trinity gave the gift of Christ’s crucifixion to save people who could not be saved from the darkness of their own self-centered being without such a gift—given much as a kidney donor would give a kidney to save a life. When I am being honest I can even admit I have, in the past, been just such a person with a tendency to return to that level if I do not stay in daily contact with the loving God of my choosing.
The foundation planted in my mind regarding unconditional love and my personal auto-correct allowed my mind to realize I have been viewing the crucifixion through the distorted lens of my perception and personal experience——and that I needed to accept it for what it was. I don’t particularly have to like it, but I do need to accept the gift was love-based and start to accept it with gratitude and humility. To do this, I have to “forgive” the concept of God I have carried with me and to replace it with a more realistic concept. Doing this frees me to humbly accept a gift of love and lets me be more able to share love and compassion.
I realize this “paradigm shift” won’t happen overnight and that it will actually be an ongoing process I will need to work on for the rest of my life. What happened to me during prayer in church this morning allowed me the freedom to forgive my “auto-correct” perception of God as a harsh, authoritarian, and punitive. As I prayed, I looked up at the ceiling into a light that blinded me and thought, “God I forgive you. Thank you for loving and forgiving me.” It felt as if a breath of fresh air flowed through the church and into my heart. I hope I can hang on to that very real and meaningful feeling.

IMG_0014

Photo by K. Farwell

It is 2:10 PM in the afternoon with a heat index of 108.  At approximately 2:00 PM I heard a sound I have never heard in this neighborhood before. It bothered me, and it bothered my dogs. It sounded like the “Hound of Baskerville” baying —you know, the one in that old Sherlock Holmes black and white movie. I opened the blinds to try to locate the source of the racket; no dog could be seen. Then I looked at my watch. My best friend’s funeral had just started at 2:00 PM. The noise stopped, but I feel like howling and baying too. Because of my health, my age, the heat, and the long distance involved, I decided not to drive to my friend’s funeral. I am there in spirit as I type. In a way,  I am relieved not to be attending because it will make it easier to remember my friend alive, vibrant,  and full of spiritual energy.

I do not think the howling, baying dog was a coincidence. My friend spent many years working with rescue dogs and in shelters. I am sure her pets which were put in a no-kill shelter miss her as much as I do, if not more.  She was the “go to person” in my life whenever I had a medical question or a dog question…..and she was the one I could and did talk to about any and everything at least several times a week. For instance, last night I made a memorial donation to Wounded Warriors in her honor (she was a Navy nurse), and  the form I was filling out asked for a family member’s address.  I was stuck—–my friend was always the one I called for information about addresses and birthdays.

I was involved in a long theological discussion at a bible study group last Sunday, We discussed the meaning of resurrection, the importance of one’s body, and the role one’s spirit plays at and after the time of death, etc. I shared I did not believe one’s soul, spirit, or body can be divided into separate entities—-that we are holistic beings created by God in this life and will still be following our death. I probably didn’t say it quite that clearly, but I think my friends in the discussion understood what I was trying to say. My friend is still my friend  whether she is in this world or the next, this universe or a parallel universe, or is in the exact shape she had on this earth or one a bit different once her transition is finished.  The difference is, however,  I cannot see her, have a conversation with her (at least one in which she answers me), touch her, or enjoy her company as I once did. That hasn’t stopped me from talking to her a lot, and at times I can almost hear/feel her answer.

I am writing this for myself as well as to and for my friend. Maybe I just want to get my mind off the funeral, but I think what I really want this writing to accomplish is to make some sort of order out of my jumbled thoughts and bruised emotions…..to let my friend know somehow how much I still love  her and always will.  Today’s photo is a reminder of how much she loved Noah’s Ark and rainbows and God’s promises.  As always, I will close with God bless and keep you…..and with a big thank you to God for keeping and blessing me at this time when I feel like I need it most.

Teddy Bear

Photo compliments of K. Farwell

I thought I was almost through grieving my father’s death—–and then came this morning. I was searching for a number in my telephone contacts and discovered I needed to delete “Daddy” from my contact list on my telephone. It has taken me over three months to have the courage to do that. Guess that makes me a number one “wuss.” I punched “delete contact” and cried.

It is not like I am a child. I am a grown up—-at least that is what my calendar tells me. In fact,  it is telling me next week I am one year older and am well over the age most people are when they become grandmothers.  So, why am I still “Daddy’s little girl” who cries because her father has died? Maybe because I love him. Maybe because it is part of the normal grieving process. It would be more worrisome were I not still grieving. I know all this theoretically, but the pain is still intense. Understanding it doesn’t make it any easier.

My recovery program tells me to “get out of myself and into service” when I am feeling sorry for myself. So today I am going to help lead another support group, and I am going to do some sponsor work tomorrow , and lead a recovery meeting on Saturday.   I am staying busy at home, too. I am busy crocheting projects for my business and for gifts—-and I am enjoying “squeaky clean abstinence” in terms of letting God guide my eating. I am even exercising. But there are still moments my mind wanders to what is painful in my heart.

At least now smiles come as often as tears with the memories. For that I am grateful. And I realize “deleting” my father from my contact list does not mean I am deleting him from my heart. Somewhere in the Bible it tells me there is a season for everything, and this is my season for grieving. It is part of my life journey, and Got is traveling right along beside me. Writing those words  triggered a sigh along with a bit of tangible relaxation. Once again, God is with me helping me live life on “life’s terms” as is so often said around recovery tables. I could not do so without God’s help, and I am very grateful for God’s unconditional love. God bless and keep you.

Advent candle

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

It is time to write again. Everywhere I go I seem to run into what I think of as “Christmas Frenzy.” I have come to believe how we celebrate Christmas is more pagan and commercial than Christian. That is OK, I suppose—–but that just turns it into another commercial day off from work.

I grew up in a church that never used the word Advent. Now I am a member of a church that makes a big deal out of Advent. Up until now, I just thought it was all “pretty.” You know, the lighting of a different candle every Sunday, special music, a bit of greenery sprinkled here and there. But I always wondered why they made such a big deal out of it.

This time I get it. It is about nurturing our soul so that “Christ” can be born again in our inner being and manifested in our interactions with each other. I have been learning about the benefits of going inward and listening in the silence expectantly for several years now. Now I am able to see Advent as a way of celebrating this activity. I am grateful it is, for the most part, not commercialized. Sure, you can buy Advent calendars or sign up for online, expensive “spiritual” courses on the topic of Advent. But the real Advent is a recurring “Event” in our souls and in our lives. This particular season reminds me to give “God time” to my inner being so I can “feed” the “infant God-oneness” that I am allowing to become part of me so that it manifests “inside-out.” Meaning if I nurture God’s will in my inner-self, then it follows, I hope, that God’s love will manifest in how I think and how I behave.

That is all theoretically very impressive. But what does it mean, really? Does it mean remembering to  mediate, to  immerse myself in centering prayer,  and/or to practice yoga each and every day? Does it mean praying my rosary? Does it mean being friendly and giving to others—-considering all persons as my family because we are all one in God’s family?  I don’t have the answers, but I do what I can.

However, as for putting my newly discovered meaning of Advent into practice, I have to confess that I do not remember to nurture the “infant” within my soul as often as I should; nor do I let its trusting, child-like love manifest in my thoughts and actions as I should. But, at least I can toss out that word “should” and realize that whatever I do to feed and share that “infant” is progress.  That progress, however small, is my personal “birthing process” that will allow me to celebrate Christ in my life every day—–and yes to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.  God bless and keep you.

002

Photograph compliments of K. Farwell

It is time to write again. My world is coming back to some semblance of normal. I was able to have a telephone conversation with my father yesterday. He was happy; he was going to watch a football game with my youngest sister. He was able to hear me tell him I love him, and he was able to tell me he loves me. That seems like a somewhat insignificant thing to be happy, no delighted, about. But, you see, there is a bit of history with that point of delight. On Tuesday of this past week my father’s appeal to Humana to extend his rehabilitation coverage was denied, and, as a result, he was moved to a long term care “restorative program” that will focus on keeping him at his present level of functioning by encouraging walking and regular exercise. He was not physically able to benefit from the rehab therapies—-partially due to his deteriorating physical health/COPD issues. He was, and is, too ill to live at home alone even with caregivers in the home.

Making a move to long term care has long been one of his most dreaded possibilities. For years my father has said he wanted to die at home and has repeatedly asked us to never put him in “one of those places.”  He has out-lived his ex-wife, his wife, his best friend, his younger brother and sister, and his older sister. Now, in spite of everything, he is exactly where he never wanted to be. Most people are “there” long before they reach the age of 92. It is a small miracle he has made it this long “at home ” alone even though he had a lot of loving, caring people helping him do so—-especially when you realize he has severe cardiac problems, COPD/asthma, a history of a bowel blockage, and now, more recently, renal failure and a newly developed  swallowing dysfunction. In addition, walking has become increasingly difficult for him. To make a long story short, he is where he needs to be. And he still loves me and my sisters even though we were instrumental in making the decision for him staying where he is.

It is a gift from God that love can survive and overcome the boundaries of circumstance, environment, and necessity. I can sleep better at night now knowing he is being taken care of by professionals. Granted, I know even though he is in long term care, he can still fall, contract contagious diseases, and even fall victim to MERSA and other dreaded “evils” that lurk in today’s medical care settings. But at least now, if he falls, there will be someone there to help him up, to check him  for injuries, and to notify family if needed. My youngest sister who lives close and other friends and neighbors have been visiting him on a regular basis, and my other sister and I call regularly. It is very important that he not feel abandoned.

Lurking in the back of my mind is the constant, nagging thought that when I am “in my father’s place” should I reach such a cross-roads in my life,  there will be no children to help me make decisions or to visit me. But, then, I remember God has always been with me when I have been hospitalized close to death and away from friends and family.  God will not forsake me; nor will he forsake my father.

Enough about the “family crisis” I have been surviving. What I want to emphasize is the increasing importance of a particular quote I found crumpled up in pocket of a jacket I was wearing when I was taking care of him in the hospital while  he was recovering from renal failure. Finding this note wadded up in my pocket was no accident.  I truly believe it was a direct gift from God. It kept me going then, it kept me going through the stress of finding a good rehab and long term care facility, it kept me going through placing him in long term care, and it is still keeping me going on a one-day-at-a-time basis.  It is a quote from “The Cloud of Unknowing”—-and it has become my mantra: “Love is our task; everything else is up to God.” Not a bad mantra to have in your heart and soul! Thanks for letting me ramble. God bless and keep you.

 

IMG_0564

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

I was reminded today that powerlessness is a gift—-it is the spur that goads me into surrendering and consenting to receiving and sharing God’s love. Now, I admit, this is not an original idea. However, my mind ran off with it in a slightly different direction today. The article that was shared (one of Thomas Keating’s—-I don’t remember which one) talked about how this type of powerlessness coming from the wisdom of experience rather than through education. I laughingly commented that nobody ever brags about getting their PhD in powerlessness. But Keating’s article went on to discuss how it is through acceptance of suffering that we are brought to the spiritual path of acceptance—-of letting go of all that is so that we can be transformed into approaching and accepting our own death—-both “death of self” and our own physical death.

This article also talked about a sort of spiritual mindfulness—-one that directs our awareness to seeing and accepting God’s will/plan in all things. My mind immediately wanted to argue with this—-too many times I have used such thinking as an excuse to allow my own bad habits to flourish—–to accept them and let them be. Granted, eventually the resulting pain does move me in the direction I think God wants me to go, but I am slowly learning that I can both accept suffering in myself and others as a conduit to God and also simultaneously take action to do what I can to alleviate such suffering. The Higher Power of my choosing, God, does not want his beloved creation to suffer, he wants us to accept our powerlessness and to consent to drawing closer to him. However, when I draw closer spiritually I am also led to do all I can to transform suffering into being both loved and loving at the same time.

It is important to acknowledge I cannot alleviate the world’s suffering—-on our own border, in Syria, in the Ukraine, or anywhere to which  I do not have direct access. It is equally important for me to be aware that such suffering exists and that I need to do what I can to change today’s world by how I relate to my immediate surroundings and the people and situations I encounter on a one day at a time  basis——-and sometimes on a one moment at a time basis. This is where spiritual  mindfulness comes in; this is where I need to be aware of God’s will at work and what I can do to further his will. This is also where prayer and consent come into play. I need to ask God for knowledge of his will and the power to carry that out—for his will and not mine to be done.  Truly living this prayer is something I  strive to accomplish, but I often fall short. Writing about it helps me remember how important it is.

I am so glad my life is a work in progress and that my God accepts and loves me even though (or because of?) I never attain perfection.  May God bless and keep us—-in spite of ourselves!