Some of your hurts you have cured/And the sharpest you still have survived/But what torments of grief you endured/From the evil which never arrived.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
~ quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson
There has been an acute attack on my nervous system during the last few weeks. For good reason, mind you. But, still. It’s debilitating—all the worry and allowing my imagination to run rampant and wild to places that more than likely, will never be. It’s an evil cycle when these objectionable fears get the best of me. They increase my stress level by taking a gripping hold and strangle out the very best of my being. I’m slowly fighting my way back by working through it all—in tiny steps—and trying to figure out why all of a sudden my anxiety is on the rise. A few significant events have occurred in my personal life, in my family, and physically. So, I have narrowed down the culprits and am focusing on paying better attention to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Last month, I invited my capable and compassionate therapist back into my life and already she’s helping me to clear out the clutter in my heart and mind. I’m finding more light and hope now, and for this, I am grateful.
Question: Is it too personal—maybe too much?—to write so openly about my grief and the anxieties that riddle my life? Does it cross some imaginary “don’t go there” line by writing about the anxieties I feel? I certainly hope not. I hope by writing about my struggles that I can offer a light to someone else dealing with a challenging time. If anything, the writing is cathartic. And my struggles won’t be in vain if I can offer hope through my pain.
My worries are real, but the scenarios I dream up are not. I have to keep reminding myself of that fact and, if possible, read more Ralph Waldo Emerson (as the quotes, above, suggest)! I’ve always believed him to be so wise; his words just make sense. What I’m trying to remember—especially on the more difficult days—is that I can only control so much. A simple notion to comprehend for most people? Yes, I understand this to be true. But, for me, I’ve always needed the gentle reminder: all that can be expected of me is to arise with the best of intentions to make the most of the present day that I’m blessed to live.
I find that it’s also good practice to contemplate that no matter how awful I feel—be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually— I’m not alone. However heavy my burdens feel upon my shoulders, I know of so many others facing far greater struggles than I am right now. It’s so important to not discount my personal struggles, but rather, try to gain some holistic perspective in spite of them. Being Catholic, I also try to focus my pain and anxieties toward Christ. He helps me to carry my daily crosses and lifelong ailments, and is my spiritual answer to so much suffering going on in my own soul and in the world around me. When I’m in a suffering state, I also try to offer up my troubles for those in far greater desperation. Lately, I’ve been turning away from my own self and praying more for some special people in my life who are going through some tough times beyond imagination.
About eight years ago, I started a life-changing, life-affirming practice: sponsoring an Indian child’s educational and basic needs through the help of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. My sponsored friend, now in her early twenties, is working toward her educational goals and dreams for a better life. Despite the hunger, poverty, and lack of resources she and her family and friends face on a daily basis, her letters come to me frequently. As a breath of fresh air, her words are laced with nothing short of positivity and joy. She is a skilled artist and the drawings she includes with her translated letters are an added bonus. To receive such creative and heartfelt greetings from someone I’ve never met, well, that’s a type of beauty and grace beyond measure. This person—this beautiful young woman dwelling across the world feels like another daughter to me. If ever I am offered the chance to fly to India and meet this sponsored friend and her family then I will welcome that chance to embrace her as my own. If you’re looking to “do more” may I gently ask you to consider sponsoring a child or adult through CFCA’s project? Not only is CFCA’s mission incredibly organized and worthwhile, the entire experience changes lives. To read more about how CFCA works, the mission of the organization and more, please visit http://www.cfcausa.org/AboutUs.aspx.
Today, I’m also reminded of the true struggles facing some dear friends of mine—close to my home and heart. The Girl’s best friend from preschool suffers from a severe case of epilepsy and has been in and out of the hospital too many times to count since diagnosed as a toddler. It seems like the last two years, especially, have been one long hospital visit, with countless tests, breathing tubes and IV’s, multiple surgeries, and more medication adjustments to figure out why she is struggling so much with her disease. This young friend has had to endure more procedures and physical invasions—at such a precious, young age—than most of us will ever need to withstand in our lifetime. This beloved friend of The Girl’s is in a Children’s Hospital ICU right now as I type suffering from aspiration pneumonia and recurrent seizures. She has been there for most of the week. Her devoted, amazing, super-human mother never leaves her side–in or out of the hospital—and is on her way to sainthood, if you ask me. Her father, siblings, and extended family are incredibly resilient and strong, as are the extended friend network they’ve built over the years who pitch in to help out any chance they get to lessen the burden in what seems like a constant, endless cycle of crisis. These dear friends of mine have been through so much and I feel helpless most of the time except when offering prayers of support, words of encouragement, and the occasional gift card or meal. If anyone deserves a miracle, this family does. So, I’m asking that if you’re the praying type, please pray for this sweet girl and her beautiful family. Prayer is a life-changer, too.
As God’s perfect season falls upon us, I pray for stolen moments of time of which to rest and rejuvenate the many facets of body, mind, and soul. I welcome the chill in the air—even better with a steaming cup of tea to wrap my chilly fingers around–as I face whatever comes my way. With the strength of my faith, the support of my loving family and friends, my writing to fulfill me, and an endless list of books to lose myself in during the early darkened nights ahead, I know the season will be a more joyful, fulfilling one. As October’s days come to an end, the poetic words of Emily Dickinson come to mind as I reflect on the cleansing beauty this season has to offer:
Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.
A few incisive mornings,
A few ascetic eyes, —
Gone Mr. Bryant’s golden-rod,
And Mr. Thomson’s sheaves.
Still is the bustle in the brook,
Sealed are the spicy valves;
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many elves.
Perhaps a squirrel may remain,
My sentiments to share.
Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind,
Thy windy will to bear!
~ Emily Dickinson, “November”
What has helped you to gain perspective during difficult times in your life? How has a friend helped you in a time of need? Are you currently in need of prayer support? Can I pray for you?