“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
(a small framed image of Jesus that my dad has had his entire life sitting on his
dresser from the time he was a young boy until now)
Sitting with my dad who is just shy of 89 and is indeed dying…
who despite my small attempts of diversion when he hangs his head low in despair
and utters a forlorn…
“I’m on my death bed…with this terminal cancer.
I just don’t have much longer….”
As I find myself countering with a rather matter of fact “well Dad,
I suppose we could say that all of us are terminal to some degree or another…”
And it is not my intent to be callous or flippant in my reply but rather to stave off
the black places Dad has always gravitated to.
For you see that not only has Dad been a glass is half empty kind of guy…
his glass has always been nonexistent…
He is A.A. Milne’s character Eeyore come to life
“Reckon man just made all this business up about heaven?
How do we really know we go to be with God?
How do we know there really is a God…”
as his warbly voice trails off as his heavy lids flutter over the now glassy tired eyes…
Despite being raised a Southern Baptist, who years ago jumped ship for the
Episcopal Church, and despite serving on the vestry and serving for years as
an usher at church…
Dad has always played the role of doubter…often bordering on the ludicrous.
And always oddly seeming to enjoy drawing my ire when, after watching countless
shows about extra terrestrial life and sweeping galactic space shows,
muses about aliens coming and going verses the foundations of our faith….
He even got caught up in more lunacy after watching a show about the missing
years of Jesus’ growing up…
the what ifs of what happened in those years following a youthful Jesus of 12 being lost
from the family during the pilgrimage for the Passover,
while finally being found in the Temple,
to the next part of the story, years later, as he meets John at the River Jordan….
Dad’s mind wandering to what Jesus did in those 21 yeas in between.
He watched a show that claimed the young boy Jesus took it upon himself to travel to
India to be enlightened during those missing 21 years…
Dad buying hook, line and sinker into the nonsense….
I would get so frustrated wanting to know why in the world he would watch such crazy
and for heaven’s sakes…
why on earth would he buy into the foolishness…
And just as easily as I share my disgruntlement over Dad’s willingness to dip deep
into the well of snake oil and falasies,
there are those who are currently reading this post, who in turn are thinking…
“Julie’s dad has a point.”
How do we know?
How does anyone know?
And that’s when I looked at Dad, who is now swiveled and shrinking and racked with pain
in his little hospital bed which has long replaced his regular bed,
as I tell him, “we simply call it faith Dad…”
“Yeah, that’s what John Bruster use to tell me”
John Bruster being Dad’s former parish priest.
“We’ll Dad, it is the foundation of Christianity…
the underpinning as it were…
Which brings us all back around full circle to the quote by Father Teilhard de Chardin…
that man is indeed a spiritual being.
And he, man, yearns, nay aches, to be connected to that which he seeks.
Many people spend a lifetime seeking to quell the ache.
It is sought so falsely…in so many dark corners of our lives.
Empty and fleeting.
Always grasping for the tangible proof, we run a lifetime into the empty ground of
conjecture while being placated by magic…
wanting, seeking…yet always coming up empty.
It is found in the faith of the God who offered a piece of Himself to be born
into our misery,
Who chose to bear our burdens,
the darkest and most foul reassess of our diseased and blackened minds…
who took upon himself the sickness and brokeness and shortcomings of our bodies…
who faced depravity, deception and falsehoods…
who died and was buried…
Who vanquished hell…
And who rose again…
and is now seated at the right hand of His Father
And who will indeed truly come again…
Who will judge both the living and the dead
And who will welcome us home…
It is that which we claim although our eyes do not see…
For it is in that which we rest our hope in…
say the prayer;
stop idle talk;
close your mouths to criticism;
place doors and locks against unnecessary words.
Time passes and does not come back,
and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit.”
Elder Ephraim of Arizona
I know this story is painful for you, but for me and many others it is a great teaching and even encouragement. Thanks for sharing it as it unfolds.
I agree wholeheartedly with Brother Wally.
thank you Don—what I just said back to Wally is for you as well… 🙂
thank you Wally…I think that surely there is someone out there who is either currently walking my same journey…or who will…and maybe something from my journey may be of help to them….
I heard in a sermon once that very thought. That maybe, just maybe, a trial we go through is God’s way of helping another with the same issue.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
I have those same doubts at times. I think we all do, but our faith is a powerful tool – really the only tool we have to get through it. You are blessed to be spending this time with him. You are indeed a blessing to him as you express these thoughts to him.
I know Kathy–I’ve had those thoughts and will most likely on and off for the remainder of my own life–as that is human nature…and I am grateful for when I come back around to the solid ground on which I stand…as everything else is shifting and sinking sand…oh but to paraphrase the song and verse…
Love that song.
amazing how a song as such just pops into ones head at the best of times 🙂
Julie, What a blessing to read your post and see that what is happening is enabling you to articulate your own faith. This is what will bring you through, even to the time when, at the end of your life here, our Lord will bring you to Himself. Still praying for you and your dad, understanding where you are and what you are going through. The Lord is with you both. ~ Fran
Your dad is blessed to have you at his side during this difficult time. Yes, we all have doubts at times but that is where faith comes in – in spite of our doubts. I was talking to the youth group about faith this evening and how we need to recognize that our lives are not in our control – and that’s where faith comes in as we trust that God is holding us. Blessings and prayers as you continue this vigil with your dad Julie.
Every one has those doubts from time to time and especially at the end of life for so many. I’m so glad you are there with your strong faith to help him keep the faith as it were. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤
even a “mustard seed” size faith is welcomed by our Gracious Heavenly Father….Thank you for sharing your confidence in that faith not only with your Dad, but with us. Blessings ~ Laura
thank you Laura—hugs