Monday, June 29, 2009


In church Sunday, we heard the scripture reading of miracles performed by Jesus. Later, the priest told us of how the Catholic Church proclaims some events to be miracles, even today, but only after a rigorous testing by doctors and scientists who “prove” that under the laws of nature, as we understand them, an event could not have happened – but did. It is a rare thing, and the priest mentioned that he himself has never seen a miracle. How sad.

If I prayed for a man to come to my door in a clown suit with a green and blue shoe, purple hair and deliver me a free pizza and a $1 million dollar check for winning the lottery (which I never entered), and then the doorbell rang – and there he was! I suppose under the Church’s definition that “could” have been a remarkable “coincidence”, and not a proven miracle. My own standard for a miracle given me is far less rigorous.

So, for those of you who are feeling a little down today under the weight of life’s circumstances, I offer you the following series of emails when I and my family were also weighed down. The emails are between myself and a doctor who intervened into the care of my dying sister – while the doctor herself was undergoing a kind of death. For the people referred to in the notes, we believe miracles happened. But even if you view them only as “coincidences”, the answer to our prayers had the impact of lifting great weights off of our shoulders – and making us feel greatly

May your burdens be lightened today, my friends. Even if it’s only a “coincidence”.

July5, 2006
To: D
Dr D,
I want to take a few minutes to tell you something you probably don't hear often enough. Tuesday morning my sister, Sally went home in peace. While in the hospice care someone from the family was at her side 24 hours a day. On Tuesday, her daughter was there saying the rosary with her when she left. And it may not have happened that way if it wasn't for you.
I believe we are all tasked with using the talents we are blessed with to love God and neighbor. We go thru life spreading them as seeds for the benefit of God and neighbor. Unfortunately, as we follow the path of our life to God, we don't often see what happens to the seeds we sow. Sometimes, we may doubt and ask: Is it all worth it? Does it really matter? Am I doing it well enough? Sometimes, on very rare occasions, God gives us the added blessing of being able to see back, and see some of the great fields of grain that have sprouted from our seeds -- and it gives us hope to go on.

I want to tell you of the great field of peace and hope that grew from your caring visit to our family last Thursday. You mattered. Your life, your love, your caring, your talents mattered. God used YOU to bring us his graces. Thanks for being open to be His servant.
After 10 days of tests at M Hospital, my brother-in-law, my nieces, and my sister were at their ropes end. She wanted a life-ending surgery to remove her spleen, the focal point of her cancer, in order to remove the excruciating pain. The doctors said no. More tests were talked of, painful tests, as my sister grew weaker and ate nothing because of the pain -- and I know that she, like me, can bear tremendous amounts of pain. I can't imagine what she felt if she was willing to give up. But knowing all this, I believed that if we could find the source of the pain, which doctors indicated was NOT the cancer, since it was in control (size-wise) thru the chemo, that we could remove whatever was causing the pain and she could continue to stay with her children and grand-children. Everything we were told throughout the long stay was that the doctors were searching for the source of pain. It was never mentioned that it could be the cancer, since the cancer was not present at the apparent focal point of the pain.

Thursday morning as I prepared to go to the hospital to consider moving my sister to another hospital where they might be willing to perform the surgery she wanted, where she might undergo even more tests and pain, I saw the picture she had of John Paul II on her bookcase. I prayed to him to intercede for us, to just show us the way. He who underwent so much pain must know what my sister was feeling, and understand. And we went to the hospital and you asked to talk to us -- we had no idea who you were, or that you were to see us. And the lights went on in our heads, and in my sister's. Thank you so very much. You truly were a blessing from God; He used you to answer a prayer.

D, I know in your job there must be times when you want to say: What's the use? Am I making a difference? Or, I can't do this anymore. Know, however, that God sometimes uses you to do His will. He won't always tell you that though. You just need Faith, and to go on doing the best you can with the talents He gave you. Trust in Him, He's always there. He was for us.

Thank you, and may God continue to bless you in your work and in your life.

July 07, 2006
To: T
T, I am so sorry to hear about the death of your sister Sally. My hope is that you were all able to spend some quality time with her and that those few days will leave you with peaceful memories.
I cannot begin to tell you how thoughtful and timely your kind words were. I've not shared this with anyone except family but for the past few weeks, I've known that I may have breast cancer and had the biopsy done on Wednesday (the day before she visited my sister). Your email was the first I opened yesterday and your heartfelt words really put me at peace.

My work is my passion and I've been blessed by meeting wonderful people such as yourself. God willing, I will continue my mission and go on to help others.

Please don't hesitate to stay in touch should you need some help getting through the tough times ahead.
God bless all of you.

July 10, 2006
To: D
D, I am sorry to hear about your concerns. I hope that YOU have someone you can talk to, sincerely, about your anxieties and worries. Although I only spoke with her briefly, I found E, the M Hospital chaplain to be someone very understanding -- and, although I can't tell you why, someone who I felt could also use an understanding friend.
I'm sure I don't have to recommend to you any of the very good books out there on the meaning and purpose of life, and (from a Catholic viewpoint) the value of suffering. No one goes through life without healthy doses of pain and sorrow, and it's how we deal with these things that impacts the quality of our life. It's the knowledge of what pain and suffering really are, both physically and spiritually, that helps us to deal with them. My sister and our family are very blessed with understanding the spiritual facts of suffering, and you helped us see the physical facts. The booklet at the hospice on the facts of death and dying was especially useful for my nieces, who initially felt frustration that we were giving up, until they read and understood that the decision was not ours to make.

My sister's death was filled with many minor miracles. From your showing up, to the wisdom to make a family pledge to her on her last day -- to tell her how very proud we were of her, her struggles -- which we know were for us, and her whole life which gave us an example how to live ours. And to make a pledge to her that, looking down from heaven, we would make her proud of us -- we will follow the examples she gave us, and always remember to ask in our troubles: What Would Mom Do? And then we'll know the answer. And the final miracle was her becoming aware in her last minutes, having her daughter say the rosary with her, and in her last moments as she saw the angels, having her daughter be calm enough to say: It's ok mom; don't be afraid. And she wasn't.

D, in your life's vocation you are able to be an instrument of peace from God. How very blessed you are. And having helped you find the very reason He created you for, God won't abandon you in your trials now. I pray for the best results from your tests, and your peace with them. All with turn out ok.

Thank you for your offer to be there for me. Keep in touch, and let me know how the tests came out -- and if they're bad have them double checked. You know you can't trust those doctors.
Peace and blessings,

July 10, 2006
To: T
Hi T,
I received the good news Friday night and the results are negative. I am thrilled and of course, have a lot to be

thankful for. So glad that you found minor miracles during Sally's final few days. These memories will sustain you during the rough times.
Please let me know how you and your family are doing. I will be remembering you in my prayers.

Note: Ain't God grand??

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Want To Be Happy

Orig Date: 06/15/09
I was thinking this morning about things that make me happy. Like the lunch shared last week with Ginger, Kim, and Jim. It was raining cats and dogs and a few bigger animals outside, I wasn’t going to get to cut my VERY long grass, and I had to run to care for mom early that day as her caregiver had ANOTHER emergency which needed her tending to. It would have been easy to be grumpy about the bad things happening that day, and even be upset over the bigger bad things happening in my life – especially those which I can’t control. But instead, we vented about some things – and laughed about them. And we laughed about the weather. And I was HAPPY that I didn’t have to cut my grass. We put our mind to it, and we found happiness. Having, and being among friends helped.

So, this morning I considered that day, and other things, and wrote the attached. Save it for when you are having a bad day.I pray today isn’t one of them!
P.S. And of course, if it helps you to buy me lunch like Ginger, Kim and Jim did, I’d be willing to sacrifice my time to make your day better!

I Want To Be Happy
Recently a friend told me he wasn’t happy with his life. He was moving to a new city to find his happiness. Another told me he was changing jobs and had found happiness. And I was happy, for each of them, but …

Often it seems that even sunny days can dark for me. So many things to worry about! So many things to make me feel: “I’m not happy”. But then I remember, happiness is just a feeling, like hot or cold. I can make it change. I can! It’s only a lack of Joy in my heart which should really trouble me. It takes many of us, unfortunately, a long time to discover what true Joy is, and how to find it. Some of us never do. Happiness is a thing of the present moment, and it can feel so good and desirable, and can sometimes overrule all the logic and wisdom we have built up over our entire life. Maybe that’s why seeking it is often called “temptation”.

Last night I read the homily given by then Cardinal Ratzinger at Pope John Paul II’s funeral mass. In it, the cardinal notes how the pope wrote about his initial call to the priesthood:

“In these texts he interprets his priesthood with particular reference to three sayings of the Lord: First: ‘It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain’ (Jn15:16). The second saying is: ‘A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep’ (Jn10:11). And then: ‘As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love(Jn15:9). In these three sayings, we see the heart and soul of the Holy Father”.

Twelve years later, the pope was called to be a bishop, and assume a greater role in the church. He wanted to stay in the area he grew up, with his friends, but:
“He heard in the church’s call the voice of Christ, and he realized how true are the Lord’s words:‘Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it (Lk17:33)’.

Finally, as Pope JPII, he traveled energetically to the ends of the world, like no pope before him. He continued to answer the call he heard:“Follow me”.
“But afterward, he increasingly entered into the communion of Christ’s sufferings; increasingly he understood the truth of the words:‘Someone else will dress you’.”(I see this last point big time as I dress my mom each day.)

As I read the words describing JPII’s life, I reflected on my own. In truth, where he answered the call "Follow me", I often followed my own ways, thinking that would "make me happy". Oh, I truly believed I was doing good and following the right "recipe" for a good life, but still often times I would stop to "taste" my creation, and know that something was missing from the formula. You see, I was striving for an eternal happiness here on earth, but my time here is not eternal. That's what was missing in my formula. I wanted out of unhappy times thinking I could find lifelong happiness. I can't; you can't.

I read in the homily about JPII a man who lived his life from his heart. he listened for God's call; he was willing to hujbly follow. He changed his life course "to be who he was created to be (Kierkegaard)", not who he wanted to be -- to "be happy". He didn't live his life to find happiness; he lived it to find Joy. Most often that meant not focusing his life on pleasing himself, but on pleasing others.

There will always be some sadness in our lives, my friends, just as there will always be some happiness, and we CAN change ourselves to be more happy: we can get a divorce, we can change our job, we can move to a far away city, we can get drunk every night. And we think we will be happy -- and maybe we will. For a time. But we will only find joy, in our heart that can't be lost, when we, like JPII listen for the words: "Follow me". We can WILL ourselves to be happy, but we will find eternal joy only in listening for the eternal call to be who we were created to be. You've got to ask yourself, and God, that question. And you WILL find happiness along the way, and unfortunately sadness, too. But as you grow in faith, in trust in God, in truth as you grow in holiness -- even though you may not think of yourself as holy -- you will find yourself growing in Joy, and that is like a happiness that doesn't end. It IS eternal.

As I glance over at the birds eating in the feeder on my mom’s front window this crisp, sunny morning, I find much Joy in the moment.I choose happiness, even in sad times.My life, like the cans I put at the curb this morning, contains much garbage, but I don’t have to rummage through it and smell the foul odors.And I don’t have to move or change jobs to make them go away.I can put those things at the curb, and trust someone else will take them away.He always does.

I pray you much happiness, little garbage, and a whole lot of Joy this day, my friends.