Friday, March 25, 2011

When our Lenten journey intensifies...

It's coming up to week three of the Lenten season, and I've been pondering how uncanny it is that the myriad of intensified medical everything for my hubby, always - just happens (!) to fall in early Lent.

Is the timing a blessing (try to suck it up - after all it's Lent), or a possible reminder of the cross?

It is one of those times when the calendar does not fail to remind us of the fragility of LIFE in itself, and of the undesired but ordained cross many have no alternative than to carry theirs all year long. 

It is a time when deep scarring emotion often tends to resurface, a reflection of another time when our Lord suffered hardships all the way to Calvary. 

The season of lent for some unusual reason, always seems to be a more intense time when I feel my soul droop a few notches, and my heart tends to yearn for a few more heartbeats of added strength. My mind is ravenous with reminder whispers and then that is when I want to beg for an understanding, a purity of sincere wisdom to answer the never ending natural question of;

"How come Lord? How come?"

I want to know how come for so many things, something personally would be why we are constantly attacked emotionally and spiritually by well meaning folks who haunt our days with their well intended litanies of big pharma and medical virtues and moralities, the shoulds and the should nots, the rules and the legalism, the judgements so quickly rendered and passed by even verbally opinionated strangers - when all we want is to "attempt" is get on with life and try to cope with a rare diagnosis and a crappy prognosis gifted many years ago now on our journey forward as a married couple. So very much of it is "emotion without substance"!

This is when we also seem to hear the returned sweetest of whispers of; "Why not you?", and we as mere mortals, we can only try to understand just what that is supposed to mean.

It is during intensive medical weeks such as this present one when the darnedest things manage to suddenly appear, and the strangest timing quickly squeezes us into a paralyzing stronghold, in the attempt to suck the life right out of our precious days in lent. 

And it is here we are reminded that ...we're ONLY heading in to week 3!

I know that all one can really continue to do is to pray and offer everything up. And we do. And we try to rise above for continued "pay it forward" reaching out to others who are in the same type of medical position, to encourage folks forward in their own tough prognosis', to maintain positive attitudes, to use our time wisely and to always remember gratitude trumps the toughest of days. 

Yes, gratitude! 

It is the strangest thing though because even though I am a super positive person at the toughest of times, and know that for me personally, it is a natural action to accelerate the ushering in of a grateful spirit as my best defense during hard times, it is in weeks like this one in lent when I often find myself instinctively praying harder, in prayer longer, purposely and repeatedly begging our Lord to please hold my hubby's hand, please hold my hand, keep us strong in the face of the surreal moments, and please allow us to walk this road to Calvary with you, honored to do so through our own struggles. Help us to keep our chins up high, to be willing and able to offer up everything for the good of our prayer intentions, and not even daring to miss such a single opportunity to do so. 

Especially during this present Lenten season! 

In all the gentle reminders this week on the topic of the absolute fragility of life, tears wanted to spill over yesterday while sitting in the Pulmonary Function area's waiting room when noticing the petite, young, long-blond-haired teenage girl in my midst, struggling to breathe, after returning from her pulmonary tests, and then observing as her father and mother expressed their deepest love for her, assisting with her every movement and the handling of her bulky heavy oxygen tank. 

Around me, I saw nothing but reminders of poor suffering souls, ultimately and automatically thanking my Lord and my God for all that is good in our lives, no matter what the road ahead may offer to us as a couple, and as a family. 

Like a light bulb dawning moment, I realized this is where we also belonged, right here in this same waiting room like the rest there at that moment. For like them, we too are God's children and he has most definitely created us for a purpose, one we may not know intimate details of for now, but trusting that there is a greater plan than we can even imagine, once all is revealed to us in the future. 

Jesus, I trust in Thee! 

It was also while sitting and taking my place in that same waiting room when I began to feel my strength growing weak, and became in the rare position where I had to fend off a bit of despair. Mostly, I began to pray as I always do to pass the anxious time of awaiting the return of my hubby from his exhausting tests. My prayer was specific and intentional. I prayed for something good, something to offer a bit of hope, anything really as a sign all would be okay for now. That was it. Nothing grand or extreme, just a simple sign of something hopeful. Usually I don't ask for anything, but this day more than any other day, for some reason I just really desired to throw out this selfish request. 

When my hubby returned to me, silently I picked up my things and in sync as usual, we both began to walk as we normally do, towards the elevators for the descent to the cafeteria floor for lunch, having a bite to eat, and waiting until the next appointment time with his surgeon. 

Once down the hallway a bit from the waiting room, he turned to me and announced for some reason he was able to do a bit better in his "six minute walking pulmonary test" than the last time, claiming this small unusual victory to himself, and yet I knew, while stunned, it was an answer to prayer for me. 

Not wanting to appear overconfident or anything (wink), naturally I couldn't hold back and broke out in one great big grin, nodding my head graciously when understanding the message, and then I proceeded to have one grateful wee personal chat with God, that I would take that as the sign to the prayer request I had uttered earlier.

"I'll take it Lord, yes, I'll take that"...

Unbeknown to my husband, I began to share with him what I had struggled with while spending time in the waiting room and the sign I felt I had just been blessed with through his words. Surprised, I caught myself almost beginning to cry as we continued to walk along, finding it a tough thing to fully digest and verbalize at that second. It was super emotional for me, a happy teary moment which very obviously rose up from the deepest depths of my anxious heart's tender timing. Shucks, even if I had spilled a few tears over the brim of my eyes downward over the contour of my cheeks, I cannot express how truly cherished, relieved and blessed I felt at that moment.  

Onward ho. 

All would be fine this least I had hoped and felt confident about that.

I wondered why I felt that sting of hurt yet again when having to sit in the transplant waiting room, after making our way up from the cafeteria to the twelfth floor for the surgeon appointment. 

I tried to be jolly while joking around about the how ridiculous it was to have so many dusty fake plants decorating the waiting room when many respiralogy cases were awaiting their appointments and dust is their enemy. 

No tears, only smiles began to visit when realizing we were wrapped in the love and prayers of my dear ones all across the country by now, but admittedly, a few wet heart lurched threatening tears surfaced one time when noticing the young teenage girl again with her parents on that same transplant wing as us, knowing what that meant for her to be there. She had cystic fibrosis and was in the transplant area, such a young life and suffering soul. Here was this young beautiful girl, bubbly and perky after she had endured a grueling pulmonary function testing that my hubby told me about because they were in the same room together performing their tests, and he said she really struggled with hers.

My soul cried out in my weakest moments because my hubby and I;

Unfortunately we needed to be there, and it has been a long road of trying to feel this is anything but a new "normal" for us, but now this is it, as good as it gets, our new normal for sure. Truth is, it usually feels just fine. 

Funny thing though, the breadth and depth of it somehow always seems to intensify during lent.

I have no trouble ever believing there is in place already a greater plan for us, which is why I can so quickly continue to rise up from any emotional ashes, from the depths of despair when times such as yesterday leave me experiencing that unexpected momentary weakness. Thankfully it never lasts long, and it is still easy to smile, still second nature to find joy and laugh, and to move onward.

I am thankful the tears welling up in my eyes didn't overflow, even though a good cry may have actually made me feel so much better. 

I am thankful I managed to get a grip and try to be as strong as I was hoping for, not for anything in particular, just for everything in general.

I guess others knew I would need a tougher fortress wrapped around me, a stronghold because it was a surprise when the surgeon wasn't pleased when my husband mentioned what a great time we had snowmobiling. That was a bit upsetting, but how did we know not to? Okay, we both felt a little chastised, then assured him all was great and well that day, and have zip zero regrets for having done that as a family. Nope, not at all.

It seems we continue to be uninformed in the ways of the dos and don'ts...but then, all came to pass once more when we left the examination room with another appointment card in hand to repeat all of this down the road in a few months, and the surgeon's words kept ringing in our ears; 

"I still don't understand the nature of your disease or why you continue to experience severe and traumatic breathing episodes."  

Confidence never seems to rise to an all time high after hearing such statements, grateful for the honesty though as the journey continues, always attempting to just keep on managing and coping, while living with a respiratory disease so rare, there is little in medical literature or journals for even the most well revered surgeon in all of North America (!), so he could (if only) offer his patient more wisdom for solving the traumatic fallout from sudden respiratory difficulties. 

For this very reason, the medical puzzle is never fully able to become resolved, resulting in frustration to everyone surrounded by, and in the loop of this unusual diagnosis. (And, that my friends is one thing that I know for sure!)

Interesting readings from "In Conversation";

** ...while we carry out as perfectly as we can (with all our mistakes and limitations) the tasks allotted to us by our situation and duties, our soul longs to escape. It is drawn towards God like iron drawn by a magnet. One begins to love Jesus in a more effective way, with the sweet and gentle surprise of his encounter. 
 ~ J. Escriva, Friends of God, 296

**...there is no suffering, however cruel or violent it may be, which is not made bearable or even reduced to nothing by love..
 ~ St. Augustine, Sermon 70

...Cheerfulness, maintained even in the midst of difficulties, is the clearest sign that the love of God informs all our actions.

**...he who loves either does not feel the difficulty or he loves the very difficulty itself.. The works of those who love are never distressing.
 ~ St. Augustine, De bono viduitatis, 21, 26

Happy Weekending Everyone! 

May you be blessed with abundant graces during lent, always with a joyful heart, many moments to break out in beautiful smiles, special loved ones to hug and hold, a few cleansing tears if necessary, and an abundance of gratitude for all things given unto you.

We're headed outdoors today as the sun shines its brightest rays in several brilliant shades of golden hues. Perhaps we will walk up the road in the hunt of a very large porcupine who made its way along our road last night and had all the neighbors peering from their windows, or stepping on onto the roadway to capture the moment. How exciting that was!  How big he was as he waddled about!