I came home for a night but am going back to Connecticut to be with Mom until she dies. I could say, ‘Until she passes or until she goes to God.” It’s all true. She will go to God, but when she dies she will be with us no more in bodily form, and no getting around it, I will hate that. I know it’s her time, but I’m still saying that I want my mother to live forever. Of course the blessing for us all, and of course for Mom is that she has always been with God.
My prayer routine has shifted since I’ve been down here with my mother for the past three days. My mind/body/spirit is working in high vibration as I sit with her, talk with nurses and administrators, make plans with my sister. Plans? For when Mom dies? I have the sense that the ‘for when’ question is the wrong question. That’s about kronos time, worldly time, but Mom is floating in kairos time, God time.
When I’m with Mom I’ve been able to slip into the present and ask, “What does Mom need right now?” A favorite question I used to ask my kindergarteners comes to mind: “What do you notice?” On a practical level, I notice that Mom doesn’t look comfortable propped up in her wheelchair, especially when she slumps to the side and falls asleep. She needs a morning nap time in her bed, something I can advocate for her.
I also notice that Mom likes to look at me and hold my hand. She doesn’t speak any more, nor respond to the questions I write out for her, but I have the sense that Mom likes company. I can provide that for her.
I thank everyone for their prayers during this time
Yesterday on my cottage-by-the-sea blog I wrote about my bus buddy, Pete, who had just climbed Ben Nevis and was on his way to the Glasgow airport for his fifty minutes flight back to his home in the Midlands of England. Pete, age 68, was an seasoned mountain climber but the flight to Scotland two days prior had been his very first ever, and he was petrified about the return trip.
Pete was a dear, gentle man. His wife had died the year before and his buddies, younger than he, were doing their best to help him muster courage to keep going in life by using his hiking skills to gain confidence in conquering new heights, namely flying. If he could feel okay taking off in a rather small plane, in a storm no less, he’d be okay taking steps to create a life without his wife.
Pete had already gained some confidence from his first flight, which had been accompanied by Hurricane Katie, and he felt a tiny bit reassured that the flight home would be calmer. But when I told him that I’d be praying for him when he took off at 9:30 that evening, I felt a palpable sigh of relief. Pete and I were angels meeting each other at the perfect moment, so it seemed.
Monday I had Mohs surgery to take care of a squamous cell carcinoma on my face. All went well and I’ve had no bothersome repercussions such as a head ache or bruising; the only thing I had to deal with was an oversized bandage but that’s gone now.
Other than my immediate family and a couple of friends, I didn’t tell anyone about the impending surgery and I only asked one person to pray for me. I considered contacting the church prayer group, but decided to keep it private.
I’m always asking myself, “Why?”
My simple answer is that I didn’t want a lot of attention about it, and that is true. It’s not that I don’t need prayers or that I am too proud to ask. The closest I can get to the truth is that I knew I would be fine, that the procedure would be brief and successful. As Julian of Norwich’s told us six hundred years ago, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
You see, it doesn’t seem right to send out a prayer request that I don’t need. Asking for prayers is no simple matter, nor is it something to abuse or treat lightly. On the other hand, once the surgery was over, and I couldn’t hide behind the huge white bandage, I began telling people about my experience. Maybe it was my way of thanking God and giving God some recognition. The more thanks and praise we offer God, the more God manifest his love in the world. Good begets good.
I visited Mom yesterday; not much had changed since my visit four weeks ago before I went to Scotland; she still isn’t eating or drinking much and has very few words. However, her faithfulness has remained steady and strong.
For all practical purpose my mom is deaf, but, since her eye sight is excellent, I write simple messages to her. Moving her head slowly, she reads each word carefully, then pauses (processing, I presume) before responding, usually with a nod and occasionally with a few words.
Yesterday she said it all, all that she is feeling at this time in her life, all that she has always known in her life.
Just before I left I wrote, “God has been with you all of your life.” Pause….
“That’s true….Very grateful.”
How easy it is to offer God praise after spending time in the highlands of Scotland. I stepped right into it after the second day here, in spite of the inclement weather. The natural world, in good and bad weather, is all part of God’s creation, and as I mentioned yesterday, all of it is affirmed in the Psalms. But I don’t need the Psalms for justification. I just need to walk around in the awesomeness, both splendid and terrible.
(I’m writing this during my flight, and talk about awesome, we’re flying over the mountains and ice flows of Greenland-- a route not usually taken.)
During this trip I’ve been starting my prayers time with praise and thanksgiving, instead of my usual routine of skipping immediately to confession and intercession. What is amazing is that because of this new “wee” habit. I notice that I am more aware of the little blessings that keep happening and am less inclined to dwell on what might not be going as I’d like.
A gorgeous day today after all those days of rain and wind. To glimpse the fullness of God’s glorious creation and God’s awesome omnipotence, I suggest you read the Psalms. My photos are my humble offering of thanksgiving. Here are today’s offerings.
(I thought i posted this a few days ago.)
At the service last night at the Abbey the leader offered a few words about Bonhoeffer and then invited us to light a candle and place it in one of the candle holders that were arranged on the floor in the shape of a cross. Our candle was to honor someone in our life who exemplified courage and commitment to do God’s work in the world. I immediately thought of my mom, who is still showing us that we should never give up. Mom has always given herself to others and she still showing us how.
If you glance at my cottage blog you can get a sense of the wonderful and windy adventure I’ve had on my way to Iona, where I am now happily settled at the Argyll Hotel, with front seats to watch the ferry come and go, and attempt to come and go.
Today I borrowed “wellies” and waterproof pants and ventured to the abbey, with the Holy Spirit speaking through the wind and accompanying me all the way right through the door, down the nave and into the Quiet Corner. Not your usual silence…. But wait….
This silence and solitude is more nuanced when in God’s hands, or so it seems. I lit a candle for a friend recovering from surgery and sat praying for her and for others on my list; two women came along, used my candle to light theirs, and sat for a while; another woman came in, lit three candles, and went out; a young couple lit a candle and sat. It came over me that all of us were experiencing silence and solitude together, in this community created by God.
It’s evening, the last day at my cottage near the sea on Skye. On Sunday, 9/11, I will be on Iona. I didn’t plan it that way, but what grace. As the day ends, I’m never much for words. But tonight on my final walk along the sea, I felt immense gratitude. In fact, on this trip I’ve been starting my prayer with praise and thanksgiving instead of intercession (or me and for others). How’s that for huge a shift? Starting prayer with God, not me. What grace!!