Resting has never come easy to me. I am a doer. I try hard to be, but my mind rarely stays still. I awoke early this morning and my mind flitted from thought to thought. The journey towards healing is now picking up pace. There is both relief and fear in that. I am no superhero. I embrace the fact that I am a loved sinner and know that I am yoked to Christ each step.
I lay still, deep breathing, this morning, and let the tears fall. Friday I will undergo a medical procedure that means there is no turning back. I hand my body, but not my spirit, over to the doctors. Once that procedure happens the rest is very much in God’s hands. The surgeon has been very clear about the risks that are involved each step of the way. The procedure itself is not bad, though it has risks. The doctor will go in and cut off blood supply to one of two veins that supply the liver with nutrients. This will shrink that diseased part of the liver where the tumours are and allow the healthy side to regenerate. I marvel at this miracle. Medicine has come such a long way to be able to do such an amazing feat and God has made our bodies unbelievably remarkable.
My mind wandered over to my father, resting in his hospital bed across the city. His body is fast recovering from its trauma. He has been up walking on his new knee already. Our bodies are made to be resilient, and more importantly, I believe our spirits are too. I had Dad all to myself last night and he was in an unusually chatty mood. He has not shared easily about his life so when he does, he gets my full attention.
A previous family doctor had refused to slate him for this surgery because he thought Dad would never survive. A new doctor thought differently and could see that the excruciating pain Dad experienced was diminishing his quality of life. Dad, and all of us, knew the outcome of this surgery could be fantastic or heartbreaking. Clearly Dad had been doing a lot of thinking about his life. In Ignatian terms, he had done a graced history without even knowing it. The stories of his memories came out with grace, touching stories about his older sister and youngest brother. He had wandered through his life and I hope, as with a graced history, had given thanks for so much. His pride in his siblings shone in his eyes. I was honoured to receive each memory on behalf of our family. This will be an encounter to remember and be part of my own graced history.
As I continued to lay in bed, my mind returned to my own body, and I did the morning ritual I am now accustomed to of laying my hands on my liver and heart as I pray for healing. My breathing slowed again. I let God’s love and mercy wash over me. I breathe out the fear and anxiety and breathe in peace and healing. I see myself as whole and well. My mind wanders after awhile so it is time to get moving.
I return some emails and realize that if I hurry I can make it to mass and go to Adoration afterwards. After mass, I sit at the back of the church and stare at the statue of the Sacred Heart from afar. I breathe deeply again and I place myself in the centre of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Jesus and I have an intimate, personal relationship. I sit there breathing, eyes closed now. I see Jesus place his hands on my head. I wait and feel the warmth pulsate through my body. Then I feel him lean forward and place his forehead on mine. We stand there, in my mind’s eye, and he is silent but breathing in synch with me. I return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where the priest reminded me that Jesus is in the silence. I cannot describe how glorious it feels to stand with Christ in this Holy Silence and feel his deep love for me. My eyes brim with tears. I hear a parishioner tell her husband that she is just going to check in with me and she will meet him outside in a minute. I pull myself away from the vision and open my eyes, still teary. She greets me, this woman, and asks if there is news. “Friday,” I respond, “the procedure is Friday.” Suddenly, the tears well up and she reacts too: “You are too important to us for anything to happen to you.” I simply nod, and whisper my thanks.
After she leaves, I sit for another moment and then move towards the chapel. I pass the beautiful stained glass window of St. Ignatius and his encounter with God at the river. We all have our moments when we encounter the holy. God is there in the hard moments if we seek God in all things. I was about to discover this again as I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration.
I start with praise and thanks. I once again slow my breathing. After awhile I sit back on a chair and lean my head against the chapel wall. I am grateful for the vision of the Sacred Heart. I clear my mind and another image takes shape. I am carrying a heavy cross. I fall. I am on the ground, on my hands and knees, and I am staring at the ground, crying. I want to pick up that cross again but I need to rest a moment. At once, I know that Jesus is there. My eyes turn upward as he is stooping down, cupping my face with his hand. “I’ve got this,” he tells me tenderly. “I.have.you….and them.” The sense of relief at those last two words penetrate me. I let them settle into my soul.
Last night a friend asked me what scared me the most. It is still the one thing I cannot control–the pain that my being sick and possibly dying brings to people. Each inviting into my journey still feels like a burden–the Simons forced to carry the cross with me. Yet almost every person responds to the invitation with such grace and love, it is me that holds a great privilege. Today a friend sent an article regarding holding space, which is a willingness to join someone, in this case me, here in the uncertainty of the desert and be, yes, that elusive be, with me.
I have often thought about those who do not have the resources I have and how challenging it must be. Yesterday’s Gospel about the sick man who had lain a long time before the healing waters without anyone to put him in reminds me that not everyone is as blessed as me. I find myself wanting to pray for these people, and entrust them to Christ who will find them, even if the rest of us disappoint them.
Jesus however has them. He has this, too. He has the outcome already. He has me. He has you. Words cannot express my gratitude for this. Let our hearts take courage as we walk together.