A big part of establishing a framework on which to manage the many moving parts of this new health journey for me is to approach it holistically from a physical, mental AND spiritual perspective. As we wait for the medical consults to come into play, we’ve started to address the other areas as well…mental health through grief/hospice counseling and, for me, spiritual health through spiritual direction.
I met with a friend this week who is also a spiritual director…a person trained to come alongside, listen & ask questions to help guide a client in his or her reflection and spiritual growth. I mentioned before that I feel God is calling me to focus on “heart and family” during this time of waiting for the 2nd opinion and exploring the spiritual elements of the journey I’m on is foundational to that. Because it feels like my whole being has been consumed with physical battles the past few weeks, it feels really good to spend time listening to God in a structured way with a friend.
At one point in the session, my friend asked me if I felt forgotten…I thought for a minute and told her I can honestly say “no” because even in the midst of all the layers of heartbreak, I can see God’s fingerprints. She asked for an example and I shared this story…
When Rudy became unresponsive the morning he died and we raced him to the local hospital in Guymon, OK, I remember looking up at one point and saying out loud “Oh my god, we’re in the middle of nowhere. What can they do for Rudy here?”. Looking back on it, I feel bad for judging the small town because the ER team there did a great job and I recognized that even in the midst of the chaos but God chose to take it a step further…fast forward a couple of hours…after Rudy was declared dead, the hospital staff left the room and gave our family some time together alone with Rudy. After awhile, the staff began to filter back in to offer their condolences and finalize official business. At some point, we had a conversation with the ER doctor that went something like this:
ER Doc – “So, you folks are from Santa Barbara?”
Trish – “Yeah, well a small town just north of Santa Barbara.”
ER Doc – “Goleta?”
Trish – “YES! How do you know Goleta?”
ER Doc – “I live in Santa Barbara”
Trish – “Wait. You do? Where?”
ER Doc – “Up in the hills by the Santa Barbara Bowl.”
Trish – “But if you live in Santa Barbara, what are you doing in Guymon, OK?”
ER Doc – “I fly out once a month for a week-long shift here in the ER.”
Trish – “You mean to tell me that we just happened to pull through town during the one week this month that a doctor from Santa Barbara is on duty here in Guymon, OK?
As we drove away from the hospital that morning, I was not only at peace with the care Rudy received but I was doubly at peace knowing that Rudy was in the care of an ER doctor that could have just as easily been serving us at Cottage Hospital had we been home when this happened! One of many fingerprints that day.
I had no problem identifying the many evidences of God’s presence as it relates to Rudy and our grief over losing him but it was harder for me to identify God’s fingerprints in my situation…that is, until I got into my car.
Here’s a little back story…Rolf, Olivia and I made a quick trip up to the Bay Area last weekend and I enjoyed catching up with a good friend who shared her enthusiasm for some spiritual formation study she is doing and how impactful a book about Julian of Norwich was to her. Julian of Norwich was a British Christian philosopher and theologian who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries, was known to have suffered great pain and loss but whose primary message remained one of hope and trust in God. My friend thought maybe I would be comforted by her story…fast forward to my spiritual direction session 3 days later…at the end of the session, my friend facilitating the hour asked if I would be interested in using Anglican Prayer Beads (much like a rosary) to help me focus in prayer (as I confess this has been difficult for me to do with all the thoughts swirling around in my head). I told her I’d love to try it, took the packet of beads and I went on my way. When I got home, I opened the little pamphlet that came with the prayer beads and read the recommended prayers and to my surprise, one of the four prayers was titled “Prayer of Julian of Norwich”!!! There she was again intersecting my journey again…within just a couple of days! You can bet I stopped and took a closer look at Julian of Norwich! 🙂 Another reminder that God is present, He knows my heart, He knows my needs and He is guiding.
Julian of Norwich is best known for “Revelations of Divine Love” which she wrote in response to an encounter she had with Jesus on what was thought to be her deathbed but from which she recovered. My friend was right. I am encouraged by what little I know of her story so far and many of her questions for Jesus mirror my questions for Jesus. I am particularly challenged by this quote: “It is God’s will that we accept His promises and His comfortings as broadly and powerfully as we can receive them and He also wills that we accept our waiting and our distress as lightly as we can take them and pay no attention to them. For the more lightly we take them and the less value we place on them for the sake of love the less pain shall we have in experiencing them and the more favor and regard will we have because of them.” -Julian of Norwich Hmmmmmm…
The beautiful thing about taking small steps to draw closer to God is that God meets us in those moments, takes the reins so to speak, and begins to pull us in because, I believe, He is just as eager for us to draw nearer to Him as we are eager to experience His nearness…He loves us that much and more.
And really important for me to remember today…He loves me that much and more.
I really miss posting pictures of Rudy…he provided us with endless photo opportunities. I’m not taking as many pictures these days but here are some fun glimpses into recent goings on in the life of the Geyling family.
Thank you friends!