I went for a walk early Saturday evening at the retreat centre I was at and saw this broken tree. I raised my camera and that was when I saw the cross before me. I lowered the lens and looked at this natural gift of resurrection from the broken. This was what was going on for me in this retreat with Fr. Matt Linn, SJ, talking healing.
The content turned out to be different than I imagined and focused on being grateful as a way of of healing. He talked about a study that showed that the least positive people have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease while the most grateful are still active and sharp-minded. Another large study conducted by Harvard, Linn said, since 1939 until the present showed that the biggest factors of being healthy and happy are first gratitude and then forgiveness.
He said that we change through love and the key to love is gratitude. A study in Stanford showed that when two groups who suffered from chronic pain could not sleep, the one that was told to list nightly the two to five things for which they were grateful, slept faster and deeper and woke up refreshed. They also needed no to less medications for their pain. Linn said that the hardest thing to believe is that you can be blessed when everything around you is broken. I am learning that lately on a deeper level.
I have maybe had three nights since January of not sleeping well at night. Even with everything that has happened and is still unknown I feel blessed. So many people tell me I look great and those who are praying say they have a good feeling about what will happen. Most days I have a deep calm about what is to come. I am not sure why. A lot of suffering will be in store. I might change my mind at some point, but currently I return to St. Catherine Laboure’s words: The protection of God is always there. In terms of Ignatian Spirituality, the Principle and Foundation comes to mind. We are born to praise, honour and serve God, in sickness and in health. May my heart become even more grateful for all that is mine right now, even amidst the brokenness.