Everyday Spirituality

Archive for July, 2011

Restless…Body, Mind, and Soul

This has been a difficult few days. Sitting…waiting…just “Be-ing” in the moment and yet at the same time feeling restless. Where is this restlessness coming from? I watch my friend tossing and turning in her hospital bed. She cannot get comfortable too many tubes too many interruptions… vital signs. Even the slightest move…even in slow motion takes every ounce of energy from her frail body. I try to help, but where do I place my hands to not cause her more discomfort?  Sometimes even the next breath takes all of her energy.

I look into her eyes. I feel her frustration and pain? I speak to her in gentle kind loving words…how is this? Is your head comfortable on the pillow? I gently bring the covers up around her shoulders…trying to keep out the cold air. She is so cold. I wish I could warm her with the very breath from my own body.

When I was little I remember having little ribbon streamers attached to the end of my bicycle handle bars. When you rode fast into the wind the streamers would blow and twirl around. It was so much fun!

We did not have air condition when I was little so a fan in every room was the norm. You could tie thin ribbons on the grill of the fan. Once you turned on the fan the ribbons would blow out from the grill and ripple in the wind.

I was just across the hall from my friend in her home. She has finally gone into a deep restful sleep. I am tossing and turning…restless… I cannot get into a comfortable position.

Then it happened; as my body settled down my mind entered into this restless state. Memories, but not like a movie or a scrapbook page. These memories came as ribbon streamers. Each ribbon a different color bearing the written account of a time we’ve had together. I could clearly see the printed words some larger than others…some written in bold type.  

The ribbons were blowing, swirling, dancing perhaps in my mind. Swirling as if some undetected source was generating a breeze in my head keeping the streamers in constant motion…restless…

Eventually we are both taken into sleep…taken away from our own uncomfortable restlessness of body and mind.

I wonder, if this restlessness is part of the dying process…is this restlessness a symptom of our resistance to surrender? Sleep became the salve for her restlessness and eventually for mine too.

St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

I know in my heart that God has a plan…we just need to be patient within our restlessness…more than once Jesus calmed the restless waters…speaking words of peace…Be not afraid, for I am with you. The familiar music drifts into my heart”…I go before you always…”

How do you handle restlessness in your life?

 

 

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Desert Terminal

The word terminal can either be used as an adjective or more frequently as a noun.

Most of the time when I am using the word terminal it is associated with making a journey…taking a trip…going on vacation.

 

I usually use it as a noun, but I was reflecting today on how in our English language we came to use this same word “terminal” in a very different context. How did we decide to use “terminal” to mean end of life…eminent death? The dictionary says “terminal” is of or relating to an end, extremity, or boundary. The dictionary continues…leading ultimately to death…being in the final stages…extreme or hopelessly severe.

 I am accompanying my dearest friend on this “terminal” journey. I also am thinking about the place where this terminal awaits. This terminal is in the desert. We are not willingly or joyfully making this journey. It just is a journey we must take together. This desert journey is hot, dry and we are often choked by the dust.

We reluctantly began this journey carrying our luggage. Don’t you need luggage for a journey? Little by little I am leaving my luggage to help her carry her luggage. Occasionally we visit about whether or not we still need to carry a certain piece of luggage. Sometimes we realize a bag is no longer necessary or we are just too exhausted to drag it along anymore.

Jesus said, “…take nothing for the journey…” he knew we would not need to carry things.

You can get tired of dragging luggage even if it has wheels. Wheels are not too useful when one is walking in the desert sand.

It is so difficult to walk in this desert.

Other friends and family members are in the desert with us. Not much is spoken because they are also struggling with the heat and desolation. We walk together yet we walk alone. The desert hills shift and swirl around us. We are often blinded by the blowing sand, our lips are parched, but we slowly keep walking.

Where is this terminal? Is it just there on the horizon? It seems near yet illusive.

At times I think I see the terminal, but it is just a glimpse. I fear that one day when I am not vigilant I will look up and we will have arrived at “the desert terminal”.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are thirsty…weary…”

 Is this terminal our final destination?  No.

This terminal is where we must  part and go in our separate directions. At this terminal I can only walk with her to the gate and bless her. …walk her to the gate… That vision is painful I must admit…letting her go through the gate. But go she must. She will go on to her final destination, an oasis. The living waters will refresh and revive her.  She will see the true light of the glory of everything we believe about God. She will live in eternal joy.

What happens after her plane leaves this earthly ground? I will still be standing there in the desert. I will be looking for a glimpse of her for a while…a sign of comfort that “all will be well”.

I cannot stay there in the “desert terminal”. It will not be allowed. I must make my way back out of the desert. The Old Testament is filled with desert stories. God does provide his “manna” even in the desert.

I am weary thinking about the trip back across the desert. Will I be able to make the way out of the desert even though I am tired? Will I be able to find the footprints we left in the sand? I cannot bear to let myself think about that today. I am not yet ready. The time will come, but not today.

One thing I know this “desert terminal” only has departing flights, how unusual, a terminal with only departing flights.

We, her family and friends, must make the journey out of the desert no matter how long it may take.

Etching the Heart

 

“Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

James 5:8

One of my favorite crafty art projects is called crayon etching.

You begin by taking a plain white piece of paper, any size will do.

 I will use my heart today in place of paper…not a young child’s heart…not a well seasoned heart…just a heart open to all the possibilities friendship has to offer.

Next you gather crayons of every color.

The heart explored all that was new and good in this loving relationship…it took in every little nuance…each twinkle in her eye…the curve of her mouth in a warm smile…and the joyful sound of her laughter.

 The more colors the better.

We joined together the hearts of our families bringing together every color possible under the rainbow…it was glorious…sharing together around the table…playing games late into the night…sharing funny stories.

  Now you begin to color the paper with one color at a time pressing as hard as you can.

Our two hearts reveled at each opportunity to bring more colors into our souls’ consciousness…we had so much precious time together…sometimes filled with hurried busyness…sometimes simply sitting in silence enjoying the sunset.

 The whole idea is to get the paper saturated with as much color as possible.

The more opportunities to share together the more saturated our hearts became with the vibrant colors of our beings…the colors filled up our hearts and overlapped with such vivid brilliant color…it was almost magical.

 It should feel slick as the wax builds up from the crayons.

As our hearts became “slick” with the love of our friendship…they also came to an understanding of unconditional love…an acceptance of the short comings of one another…a knowing that we would always be there for one another.

 When you have completed this step no white paper should be visible.

Our hearts are now filled with so much love… only the colors of love can be seen; by all who observe from near and far.

  Oh, and one word of caution I forgot to tell you; there is one color you may not use, black.

The heart was happy not to use the color black. But now the heart is beginning to feel as if it is being covered in black and there is nothing it can do to stop the black from coming. The heart tries to only look for the beautiful colors, but it gets more difficult each time the hearts are together now. My heart tries to comfort her heart as best as it can…mostly no words are necessary. Even if my heart can no longer see the vivid colors I know they are there underneath the black…for together we completely filled our hearts with vivid colors.

 The color black is not used when you color your white paper…

 I know the other bright happy colors are there, but the color black absorbs and obscures all other colors. 

  …you will see why later…

 In this craft project you have one more step. In this step a new colorful picture emerges as you carefully scratch away the black crayon little by little. Little by little the scratching reveals a “new” picture. This “new” picture becomes intensified because of the black.

 My heart does not yet know when or even if this black will be able to be scraped off.  I can only hope that when it happens the new etching revealed will be equally as beautiful.  Patiently we wait, trust, and struggle to believe.

 

 

For my heart the color black
is Sorrow…
 an emotion of great sadness associated
 with loss or bereavement.