ailments, maladies and anomalies

Do you suppose there is any living man so unreasonable that if he found himself
stricken with a dangerous ailment he would not anxiously desire to regain
the blessing of health?

Petrarch

Ailments–illness, typically minor.
Maladies– a disease or ailment.
Anomalies–a deviation from the expected or standard

If we live, we will live to experience all three…
be it an ailment, a malady or even an anomaly…
Perhaps we will experience all three.

Some of us will have more than others.
And if fortunate, some of us will have them less and very few.

Ailments are more or less just aggravating…
a sore shoulder, a bruised knee, a cut, a slight headache…
things that don’t bring us to our knees but rather just slow us down.

Maladies, however, usually show up at some point or other, unannounced and
tend to be a bit fierce.

They may sneak up on us in the middle of the night or while on vacation.

They most often cause a disruption to our life’s flow and rhythm…
They come in as a cold, the chickenpox, a sore throat, a broken bone, the flu, a stomach bug…
They are annoyances to health and our time but they are things that are usually
rectified with some attention, a few meds and rest.

At other times, maladies can become a full-blown crisis…

They can come on quickly and out of the blue…
be it something like the physical results from an accident, a case of acute appendicitis,
a heart attack or some ruptured or blocked this or that or the dreaded “C” word…

Perhaps it’s a spiked and dangerously high fever for no apparent reason.
A signal from within that something is terribly wrong.

We tend to worry most when these things happen to children.
Often times their systems just aren’t old enough, immune enough, or tough enough
to fight for themselves.

We tend to go into crisis mode when the malady is within a child.

Yet maladies, be they minute or major, more times than not, happen to all of us
and most need our immediate attention…
or either we may suffer from the consequences of the ‘or elses’ in life.

Some maladies are things we have to learn to live with as it seems that our bodies
and/ or our systems are just the lucky bodies and systems that have inherited something
via DNA or just because we’ve become the lucky recipient of whatever has come our way.

Various long term maladies come to mind such as diabetes, chronic pain issues,
glaucoma, arthritis, and even some cancers…

They are annoying, somewhat debilitating, but we learn to carry on.
That is when many of these issues move from being a malady to the
category of an anomaly.

I know about all of these issues…but no more so than that of anomalies.

I have written before about having to live with IBS…
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When I was young, they told my mom I had a nervous stomach.

Today it’s more of a case that I hate my guts because my guts hate me.
It’s a great relationship.

I’ve also written about living with a bum thyroid as I have Hashimoto’s disease–
It steals your eyebrows along with your energy and gives you weight,
whether you wanted the weight or not…
and just as suddenly, it takes that weight away but it will not give back eyebrows.
It is a living yo-yo.

I’ve also written about living with hemochromatosis—living with a body
and a liver that absorbs iron and seems to store it as if the Apocolypse is coming…
as in holding on to it till it builds up to a dangerous level and then
you become known as Ironman or Ironwoman—not so bad if you’re into Marvel comics.

All of which are maladies, but if the truth be told, they are seemingly more like odd
anomalies…deviations from the expected and venturing off into the surreal.

Yet be they maladies or anomalies, they are most often things one learns to live with—
because as we age, we seem to acquire more and more anomalies—
anomalies that we just learn to live with.
Aggravating but we know the only choice is to carry on.

Remember what Churchill said…”If you’re going through hell, keep going!!!”

Yet within the recent past year, my anomalies have spiked.
I was left feeling simply bad, all the time.
Achy, tired and just almost flu-like constantly.
But who had time for such?
If you looked at me, you knew no difference…but I did…hence the anomaly.

I am the type of person who likes to have definitive answers in my neat and
tidy little world.
I like to know why certain things are and if I don’t like those certain things,
I want to know what can I do, on my end, to fix them or at least alleviate them.
I’m a doer and a fixer.
I was simply prewired as such.

It seems that my general practitioner, internal med doctor, feels much the same.

Let’s get all the answers and then determine what we need to do.
What is our plan of attack?
I like that, it’s like a good general in battle.

So with a spike in anomalies, which has only lead to exacerbating the current maladies,
I’ve had a bunch of blood work.
I’ve had a few ultrasounds as well.
And the call for a few other tests that I just let pass as time has not been on my side.

My doctor was left with more questions rather than conclusions…

So what does a doctor do when they have more questions than answers???
They send you to another doctor.

I was referred to a rheumatologist.
I was pretty certain I had Lupus.
I just knew it!
I was sure of my answer because finally, I would have some vindication.
I could look a few former doctors, who thought that I was nuts, in the face
and let then know I was not nuts after all!

I’ve thought I’ve had Lupus for most of my adult life.
Too many quirks that couldn’t be readily answered and many of those quirks were
immune-deficient related.

It made perfect sense in my non-medical practicing brain.
Heck, I was adopted, I had no history markers.
I was pulling rabbits out of hats!

It took me two months to get into see this new doctor.
She was backed up that long.
Two months of waiting and feeling like crap but living on…

Then it took almost as long to get the labs and bloodwork back…
One round would come back sketchy so she’d call for more and more vials of blood—
I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t visiting a vampire or the good old fashion
leech loving doctor.
Heck, why don’t we just chop a hole in my head and let the bad vapors pour on out!

So Wednesday, when we finally met again face to face, she was very apologetic about the length
for which we’ve had to wait…the bloodwork was sent to both California and Michigan.
Am I sure I want to trust what conclusions come out of California and Michigan?!

“Good news,” she tells me, “it is not lupus.”

“Hummmmm” I muse in my head.

“But it is Sjögren’s,” she announces—“another type of immune disease but
the better of the two out of Lupus.”

“Yes well, at least I could pronounce Lupus” I inwardly grumble.

“Sjögren’s can accompany Lupus or stand on its own—
for now; it seems yours is standing on its own.”

“It does much the same as Lupus…it affects your joints, your muscles,
it causes fatigue, causes Reynauds in your fingers and it can affect your organs—
but it primarily attacks your salivary glands and tear ducts as in it affects
the teeth, gums, swallowing, and the eyes.
Oh, and it can lead to Lymphoma so we will need to do regular labs”

I’m going to prescribe an immunosuppressant drug that has been around since WWII.
It was a drug used to treat Malaria in soldiers but then the disease grew resistant so they
discovered that it aided in joint pain…so…

Huh???
I thought she said this was the better of the two autoimmune diseases???!!!
And so now I am a mosquito repellant…sigh.

However, she added, your liver enzymes are just way too high and your
ferritin is way too high plus your kidney functions are way off…
so…..”

And so now it’s off to the Gastrointeroligist for a liver biopsy and to the
Urologists to check on perhaps kidney stones or something else.

I’m the type of person who is a one-stop-shop kind of person.
I don’t like a hodgepodge of the unknown nor a hodgepodge of doctors.
Yet hence the life of an anomaly.

So I’ll keep you posted on this life of an anomaly, malady, and ailment.
Sorting out the three and figuring out which is what.

But in the long run of all of this random mess, I know that God
is well aware of what is what, which is which and why it all is.
It is that knowledge that helps to lead a malady to a mere anomaly…
something perhaps aggravating, yet tolerable…
because all things are used for His glory…
sometimes we don’t see or understand that glory…
but never the less, that Glory remains…

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1 ESV

And today’s irony…
the Verse of the Day:
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2

Questions and the spirit of God

“We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness
of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit
of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(The Sheriff slumbers / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The Mayor profiling / Julie Cok / 2019)

Firstly…The picture of the Sheriff above is when his parents bring him to me before they
leave for work.
This is a pre-sickness shot.

I will usually put him in my bed and let him wake on his own time since this week he
was free from the dreaded daycare while in recovery mode.

So after visiting the Pediatrician yesterday, it appears that the Sheriff has basically
the croupy crud—
of which she believes he got when he went to the hospital on Friday for surgery.

Don’t you love going to a hospital well, relatively, and coming out like Typhoid Mary?

There’s not much to do but wait it out.
And that’s hard when it comes to babies.

When they are miserable and we, those entrusted with their care and well being,
are helpless to make things all better, we grow anxious,
worried and agitated…and quite miserable ourselves.

Moments, such as feeling helpless while watching the innocent suffer,
most often envoke a bit of ire with our Creator—if not sheer anger.
In other words, we get mad at God.

We get mad over all sorts of things but when it comes to watching our little loved ones suffer,
things can get out of hand frighteningly fast.

I know I felt it when our son was a baby and was sick and had surgery at 3 months.
Just as I know my son and daughter-n-law feel much the same now with the Sheriff…
as well as with the Mayor.

Throw in exhaustion as you sit holding a baby who can’t breathe, and coughs nearly continuously,
upright all night…
and you, my friend, have a toxic breeding ground for damaging negative emotions…
Of which set up a hard barrier between our Heavenly Father and ourselves.

It is at such moments when we lose the blessings He wants to offer because we
have essentially turned our backs.

And so after reading the day’s two quotes, I found them rather appropriate for just those
very moments…the moments when we find ourselves questioning what we don’t know or
understand regarding our God…which mind you can be so very vast.
But it is at such times that we must cling to what we do know.

Questions are always fine…but questions mixed with anger and resentment are spiritually
debilitating.

May we continue, as children, to learn trust while reaching our hand out to a loving Father who
longs to hold that outstretched hand.


(silly faces before we both got sick / Julie Cook / 2019)

“When uncertain about God’s will, it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me, there are always others that
I know for sure and can invest in without any risk, knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing the
essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided: finding ourselves in darkness
about God’s will on an important question…
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day, like being faithful to prayer,
maintaining trust in God, loving the people around us here and now.
Lacking answers about the future, we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

endure the hatred of those he loves…

Suffering is part of Jesus’ mission.
His power to effect conversion stems from the fact that he is ready to endure the hatred of those he loves.
He can conquer this hatred only by a love that is all the greater, a love that is stronger than death.

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
from The Evangelizing Parish


(magnolia bloom / Julie Cook / 2019)

Reading on and off of the back and forth tit for tat regarding Chrisitan suffering vs joy…
I have concluded that in this life we will most certainly know both.

It matters not what side of the fence you claim…both will find us eventually.

We will suffer and we will rejoice.

And we just always pray that we will rejoice a great deal more than we should ever suffer.

But both are part and parcel to living.

And as odd as it may seem…some of us are simply prone to one of the two more so than the other.
Why that is, only our Creator can say.

Yet there are lessons to be found in both of our times of joy and in our times of suffering.

It’s just that during those suffering moments, learning lessons or finding truths revealed
during such a time, is not top on the list as much as it is to simply remove the suffering.

So it came as no surprise that I was moved when reading Cardinal Schönborn’s words…
that suffering was a part of Jesus’ mission…
and the fact that he endured the hatred of those he loved..loved despite and through the
hate He knew existed…thus a ‘suffering’ of abiding love meets a wall of hate.

How many of us can do such?
To love in spite of reciprocal hate?

No easy task.

But imagine…imagine if we met the hate that stares us in the face with only
love.
Boy…how this world could be so different.

But I’ll be the first to admit, that it seems to be our human nature to rile
against that which opposes us on such a very deep level.
It is almost instinctive to have that knee jerk eye for an eye mentality.

Hate for hate is easy is it not?

May we pray that we would rather offer love for hate.

“Helping a person in need is good in itself.
But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done.
If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty,
then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed.
This is because he will feel beholden to you.
If, on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully.
The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help,
but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help.
And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity
are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”

St. John Chrysostom

the Christian Paradox

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our
only necessities.”

Oscar Wilde


(the sad little cherub birdbath has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2017)

Reflecting back over this past and most chaotic year—chaotic on so many levels….
As it has been chaotic, yes, personally but perhaps the correct word there
would be difficult….

Yet chaotic is what it has been, none the less and more importantly, on
a National and Global level….
thus making it more acute because its a sort of chaotic which affects us all.

It has been a year which has seen its fair share of words and acronyms,
some tried and true, some new and biting…each having left us changed.

Words and letters such as BREXIT, Tweet, Trump, Merkel, May,
Hillary, Russia, Putin, LBTGQ, ISIS, snowflakes, cupcakes, harassment,
sexual, misogynist, tolerance, intolerance, conservative, media, fake news,
liberal, Socialist, Nazi, Communist, accept, Democrats, Homophobic, Republicans, e-mails,
leaks, white supremacist, racist, walls, migrants….

On and on the list has grown….
so perhaps the ending of this particular year is coming none too soon.

It has certainly been perplexing watching the shift in dynamics within our Nation
as well as within the world at large.

It has been disconcerting watching this shift in Culture—
particularly in and with what we thought we knew.

It is maddening to be called “phobic” when one simply disagrees with a sinful
lifestyle.

In the latest posting of Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden was also opining
the same sorts of issues but with a more keen eye on the shift within Christian
Culture and the Church….

The good Bishop notes that there are all sorts of calls emanating from various pulpits,
all the way to Canterbury itself, the ancient seat of the Anglican Church—

Calls are being made for a total acceptance, absolute tolerance and drastic change….
Coupled by the actual accusations towards those who opt not to get on board with the
acceptance, the tolerance and the change….
Actually accusing those who cling to Scriptural Authority as being outdated,
out numbered and flat out wrong.

I can remember when words from various pulpits were words of God, Salvation, Fatih, Sacrifice, Obedience, Jesus, Love, Grace—
not this modern mantra of jumping on the culture train or else…….

Bishop Ashenden notes that it seems as if the majority of the English Clergy,
(and I would include their kissing cousins of the Episcopal Church), are
either outright socialists or of socialist leanings.
While frustratingly the more Orthodox remain silent for fear of reprisals.

As it appears that the majority of both clergy and laity have lost confidence in the Spiritual message of Salvation, that which calls for all humans to repent,
having rather “transferred their allegiance to a political solution.”
Because who wants to be told to repent from a lifestyle that society has
deemed worthy as God has succinctly and resoundingly deemed as sinful?

And what we the Faithful must note….is that within that notion of all things
of a political solution, there is absolutely no call to or for repentance.

Anglican unscripted:

And now we look to the paradoxical…

We look to the counter balance to all of the liberal heavy handed hullabaloo
with the story of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt.

It is a church whose roots are found in St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt
during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
A long suffering church body of Believers who have suffered at the hands of Islam
since Muslims invaded their homeland in 641.

Believers who do not adhere to the cultural gods, but rather adhere only to the
Word of the One Almighty and Omnipotent God…

For there is no demand for change, or tolerance of the sinful, or acceptance of
society’s demands.


(Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church of Egypt)


(The Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya on Sunday.
The building was set ablaze on Aug. 14)

Consider the following comment….

What kind of faith makes people go back to church immediately after that
church was bombed?
What kind of faith makes people chant the Nicene Creed right after their church
was bombed?
What kind of faith makes a community continue liturgy outside because their church
wasn’t yet safe enough to be in?
What kind of faith makes one go on national TV and tell persecutors that they
are loved and forgiven after they just attacked and killed 28 Christians?
The unshakable faith of Christ.

We mourn.
We are in pain.
We are angry.
We have lost many brothers and sisters in Christ, and their blood continues to flow.
But many of us neglect to remember something –
the Coptic Christians remain undefeated.
They continue to grow.
They continue to inspire and strengthen the faith of Christians around the world.

https://howtoreligion.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/coptic-orthodoxy-and-self-defense/

And so will round out these thoughts with the words of the late Orthodox monk and saint,
Saint Paisios…..

“[St. Paisios responds to the question: ‘Geronda, what is this joy that I feel?
Can it be that I am not aware of my sinfulness?’]

No, my child!
God gives you a chocolate here and there, in order to give you joy.
For now, it’s chocolates; later, it will be wine —
like the wine they drink in Paradise.
Do you know how sweet is the wine they drink there?
Oh my!
If God sees a little philotimo (*), a bit of good disposition,
He offers His Grace abundantly, and it intoxicates you —
even from this life.
The spiritual delight one receives, and the transformation he feels in his heart
when the Grace of God visits him, cannot be given…
even by the best cardiologist in the world.
When you feel such joy, try to hold on to it for as long as you can.”
~+~
(*) – Philotimo, is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble people,
from whom every trace of self has been filtered out,
full of gratitude towards God and their fellow man.
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding connection with God,
so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good,
right and honorable.
(Although this definition has been repeated many times during these teachings,
the last time was 5 months ago,
I feel it is never too often to remind us of its awesome meaning!)

From Discerning Thoughts

And so we end this year of the humanly chaotic being warned.
For we the faithful are being called.
Called not to be quiet, not to fear reprisals, not to accept that which is wrong
but to hold up to the world the Image of God incarnate in His only begotten son….

His duality is seen in the oldest documented Icon of Christ the Pantocrator.
One side of his face is the Christ who is benevolent, kind and loving,
the other side is of the Christ who sits in judgement….judgement of all mankind.

What those who clamor for all things cultural and accepting have chosen to ignore
that Jesus will indeed sit in judgement.

We are called to repent.
To be repentant.
For in that repentance and in that the turning away from sin is found
the true acceptance of Salvation.


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

a family’s erosion

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.”

George Bernard Shaw


(should not the day a new baby comes home be one of joy? Try telling the little girl on the
right / 1964)

It seems that even at the tender age of 5 I was gifted with intuition…
as in knowing something is a bad idea from the get go.

Just look at that all-knowing face captured on the day the new little brother was
adopted and brought home.
The younger me must have had a premonition that none of this was going to end very well…

and I was correct, it did not.

As most of you who know me recall—
I have written at length in past posts about both my adoption as well as the
dysfunctional life my family suffered at the hands of the mental illness that
engulfed and eroded my brother…

In his erosion, my family eroded.

Today it is not my desire to rewrite any of those posts but maybe today’s post can be a
bit of an addendum…

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/
and
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/mr-mole-continued-forgiveness-and-grace/ )

The reason for this heavy revisiting is due in part because I happened upon a letter
that I’d found in a box that has been buried deep within dad’s basement for many years.
It was in a box tucked away in a forgotten back corner, under a table,
left to the spiders and whatever else lurks in a dark 65 year old basement.

The letter was written, or more accurately typed, in 1986.
It was a letter from my dad to my brother.
Wednesday was the first day I had ever seen the letter.

I want to share the letter with you and I’ll explain why after you read the letter:

September 2,1986

Dear Ed,
As you know, your mother is seriously ill and will probably die within the very
near future.
Because of that I am under probably as much stress as I have ever felt.
At the same time, it seems that our past problems have come to a head and are causing
me more stress than I can handle.
I had hoped that we could continue to relate as father and son, and to live in the
same household.
That has become impossible, so I have had to ask you to move out.
I hope you understand that I take no enjoyment from all of this.

I realize that you have some personal property in the house and will make it
available to you if you will just call me and set up a time to pick it up.
I cannot, however, consent to you coming and going if I am not present,
so please do not come to the house without calling.
If you don’t have any place to store your things I will help you with a mini
storage warehouse for a couple of months.

I want you to have the bank account your mother and I set up for your education,
and hope you will use it accordingly.

When we talked last Tuesday you said I couldn’t make you leave, and you refused to return
your house key: so I checked with my lawyer to see just what our respective right are.
He said that technically I could ask you to leave the house, or not return, and have
you arrested if you come back. I sincerely hope this never happens, but you must understand
that I will do whatever is necessary to preserve my sanity and to be sure I can be supportive
of your mother during her illness.
I hope you can understand how I feel and that I still want to help you to whatever
extent I can and feel justified, but cannot have you living at the house any longer.

Please let me hear from you and let me know what you want to do about your belongings.

Love, Dad
(the typed letter was signed personally)

And now a little background if you are new to this history of mine…

My brother and I were 5 years a part in age, with me being the oldest.
We were both adopted and not biologically related.
Even in the beginning Ed was different from me, mother and dad.

He was very fair complected, burning easily rather than tanning and he was covered
in freckles where we were not.
His hair was much lighter than our darker hair.
Despite my not being biologically related to mom and dad, no one could
tell it by just looking at us..
Ed however was different….and he always sensed it.

Even his head was more elongated than ours.
He cried incessantly as a baby.
He wet the bed long past when such was considered “normal”
He was considered hyper in school long before there was ADHD.
He struggled academically but soared in the area of physics.
He loved music, didn’t play sports and had a difficult time “fitting in”
He ran away when he was a senior in high school and was found in Texas,
driving Mother’s car, on his merry way to California, “to watch the moon and the stars.”
He fought dreadfully with all of us as his temper was dangerously violent.
He had threatened each of us at different times by promising “to blow our brains out”
Dad tried to get counseling but it was to no avail.

He eventually attended Ga Tech where he excelled in science with a keen interest
in aerospace engineering.

During this time Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the tender age of 53, only
to die within a 9 week window from the initial diagnosis.

I know without a doubt that death was mother’s blessed release as she had lived 15 years
of abusive hell at the hands of my brother—
who was especially vindictive to her despite her unending kindness.
He succeeded in eventually breaking her spirit.
Cancer and death were her ticket out.

I know now that his “abuse” to her was the misplaced anger he had so wanted to direct
to his own biological mother.
He was full of rage and simply could not live with that initial rejection.

During all of this time, my brother had actually begun a quest into his adoption and to
finding his birth parents.

I had long since gone off to college, graduated, moved to what I hoped would be far
enough away from the madness, and eventually married.
I had promised myself to “get out” and out I did.

My brother was the first case in the state of Georgia to have an adoption annulled—
my dad wanted to do whatever he could to help this troubled son of his find the peace
he so desperately sought…as is evidenced in his letter written prior to the court case.

This was a story of two loving people who simply wanted to have a family and because they
were unable to do that on their own, they turned to adoption.
And this is a story of a family member who suffered for years without
understanding what was wrong with him.
Life in a family where one member has a severe undiagnosed mental illness….

For those of you who don’t buy into the fact that much is happening in utero with a
fetus except for the physical development….
Let me tell you that there is also a great deal happening as far as mental,
emotional and cognitive development is concerned.
I am a firm believer in the transference of both positive and negative emotions
from mother to forming baby…
that there is much in the way of a lasting impact from mental and emotional miscues
just as there is with the physical miscue.

The long story is that my brother was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he
did eventually locate his birth mother…moving states to be near her…
However she resoundingly rejected him again.

The adult rejection was more than he could bear, and so in his rejection he found no
alternative but to end his life.
He shot himself.
He was only 30.

I don’t write about this to make you sad or upset or to discourage anyone hoping to
adopt a child…
I share this story because I want to hopefully bring awareness…

I am the sole surviving member of my little family of four.
I am an ardent advocate for adoption as I am gravely opposed to abortion.

Yet there are those who would callously argue that had my brother’s birth mother sought
an abortion or had it been in a time when an abortion was legal and “acceptable”
perhaps years and lives suffered in misery, with an eventual suicide,
could have all been avoided.

Yet murder is never truly justifiable now is it?

I also know that despite the tragedy, the heartache and sheer madness—
God’s hand was alway there for me…guiding, steadying, leading….
but I also know that He is not a manipulator and will not
stop folks from doing what seems to be on their inevitable radar…

Yet He can bring goodness and light from both the bad and the dark.

I believe this, because I know this.

I simply write this because I want others to know that there is now help more readily
available for those who suffer mental illness than there was even 30 years ago.

Sadly my dad had also became broken in the loss of his son—
for he lost this boy he had loved on so many different levels,
only to find the loss unbearable.

For my dad was not a strong man who could bear up under tragedy.

He went to his grave just two months ago still feeling guilty over ever having to have
written that letter, for “kicking Ed out of the house”
He had rationalized, unjustly so, that somehow he too had contributed to my brother’s
rejection—
and no matter how hard professionals and loved ones tried to convince him over the years
that he did what he had to do in order to perserve the safety and sanity of his
remaining family, he carried that painful guilt with him to the day he died.

So this little story which is all about adoption, rejection, mental illness, suicide
and even survival is just as much a story about Grace…

For I have seen and lived both the dark and the bad and had it not been for God’s healing Grace…
this sole survivor of 4 might not have been here today to share her story.

So everyone who has ever been touched by tragedy, sorrow, heartache, darkness, cancer, suicide,
mental illness…must know that even in the darkest dark, there is always HOPE!!!
Because there is help…on so many different levels!!
And no matter how bad things often seem…God is always God and He has overcome the darkness
so that we may find our way to the Light….

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

Waiting and arrivals

“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life”
Simone Weil

boucicaut-meister
(Illuminated manuscript from the Book of Hours, the Annunciation 1410)

We have entered a new season within our faith…
Those seasonal cycles of the Church.
For we have now entered the season of waiting…
Otherwise known as Advent.
Taken from the Greek word, parousia, meaning arrival.

As in we are waiting for an arrival.

Yet do we not seem to spend our lives waiting?

Waiting on things to take place, to happen, to hurry up, to change, to come or to go….

However Father Henri Nouwen, in his essay Waiting For God, reminds us that
“for many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go.
And people do not like such a place.
They want to get out of it by doing something.”

So waiting seems to be something we are relegated to suffer.

But Father Nouwen continues…
“Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state
determined by events totally out of our hands.”

“But there is none this passivity in scripture.
Those who are waiting are waiting very actively.”

“Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction
that somethings happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
A waitng person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.”

“A waiting person is a patient person.

The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and to live the situation
out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and
therefore want to go elsewhere.

“Waiting, then is not passive.”

“To wait open-endedly is an enormous attitude toward life.”

So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that
God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear.
The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment,
trusting that new things will happen to us,
new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.

“That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

And so we begin to wait…
actively and radically waiting….

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5:7-8

(Father Henri Nouwen’s words taken from Watch for the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas
/ Plough Publishing House

Not alone

God is not in heaven: he is hanging on the cross.
Love is not an otherworldly, intruding, self-asserting power—
and to meditate on the cross can mean to take leave of that dream

Dorothee Sölle
On This Gallows

RSCN2923
(blooming wild shrubs / Julie Cook / 2016)

There is a sobering reaccounting of a tale by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz turned author and activist, taken from his book Night.

The tale is found within Dorothee Sölle’s reflection On This Gallows and is here, paraphrased…

Mr. Wiesel recounts one of many tragic episodes…of how several SS guards rounded up the camp’s prisoners and hung three of their members in front of them…for no apparent reason but that they could.
Two of the victims were grown men and the third was but a boy.

Mr Wiesel notes how quickly the two men died but not so for the young boy.
He struggled and suffered for nearly thirty minutes before succumbing to the slow torturous strangulation.
As Mr Wiesel stood, witnessing this numbing atrocity in a long line of atrocities, he hears a voice from behind him coming from the assembled crowd…
“Where is God? Where is he?”
As the boy struggles, he hears again…
“Where is God now!”

Mr Wiesel and the other prisoners were gathered to witness another round of senseless deaths.
But this time it all seems so much more barbaric, completely incomprehensible.
A boy slowly and horrifically dies…
A single vocalized lamentation, representing the silent question screaming in the hearts of all those gathered…how, why, where…. is offered up to the empty void of hopelessness…
As the single answer is heard echoing within Mr Wiesel’s head…

“Here he is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”

And so He is…
He is here now…just as He was then…

God is indeed in the midst of each and every horror and atrocity.

He is present in each and every lonely pain filled moment of agony and emptiness.
He is every bit a part of our struggles as we are ourselves…

He is not watching coldly from some remote vantage point as so many imagine.
Not as some maniacal puppeteer who finds sick and twisted pleasure watching the suffering of those so far removed.
He is not far removed…

Quite the contrary…

He is in the unimaginable
the unspeakable
the horrific
the sorrow
the agony…

He was given up…
to suffer
to share alongside us in our suffering
to hang on a cross
to die along side each one of us…

As we in turn, are now allowed to rise with Him…
In His final vanquishing of death…

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

Psalm 118:17