Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Moving On

You are our hope and our strength, in You we trust --- may we never despair.
From the Intercessions of Week III, Liturgy of the Hours

My friend is finally out of the hospital (and ICU) where she has resided for nearly two months, finally moving to a specialty hospital near her home for further recovery.


She still breathes with mechanical assistance, and is nourished through a feeding tube. The specialty hospital is to strengthen her and wean her from these assists, and hopefully begin her walking again. I saw some of the hospital staff plying their skills this first full day there, as they sat my friend up on the edge of the bed and her feet (at long last) touched the floor again --- and it felt strange and scary to her at first, but then she smiled. Progress!

I’ve written before about how our life’s journey is like floating down a stream, toward the ocean of God’s eternal love. Sometimes we float slowly and seem to make no progress and sometimes changes happen so rapidly we can’t catch our breath. Sometimes we find a comfortable place along the shore, and wish we could never leave, but we must. Sometimes the smooth waters become as rapids, and we bounce from rock to rock, and they hurt and we are fearful. Will the pain never end? And sometimes it seems like we are stuck on an island, and life passes us by, and as the months and years continue unchanging we think we’ll never be happy again, always alone, stranded while others go by happy in the current of their lives.

But even as Jesus rescued mankind a couple of thousand years ago, He rescues individuals even today. He said: “I’ll always be with you.” He meant He’d always be with YOU, whenever you need Him. In your trials, in your fears He will be with you, perhaps to work miracles to end your pains and fears --- He can, you know --- or perhaps just to be present to hold your hand, as I did today with my friend.

The fears of today become the memories of yesterday, only a strange thing happens in the transition. Just as Jesus helped us bear our pains, He helps us bear our memories. Unless we really want to cling to them, He makes them fade, like old photographs. The pains don’t hurt as much, and we don’t recall them as often. And life goes on, moving on down the stream. And as long as we remain in this life, we can look forward to the ocean of heaven which lies ahead.

When we get caught on the rocks and pains of this life, it’s easy to forget in the moment where we’re going. It’s like we’re headed West toward the Pacific Ocean, but when we’re lost in St. Louis and about to crash into the Arch, we’re not thinking about the salty waters of our destination, but instead the possibility of spilt blood --- ours! It’s easy to panic sometimes, especially when we don’t see a way past a disaster. But that’s because we can’t see the future, we can’t know what’s downstream, only He can.

My friend’s long illnesses caused much panic, in her and in her family. And when her health stabilized recently to where she could move on to further recovery, she and her family remained in that panic mode, caught in the recent memory of pains and life-threatening ailments. Move on?? They thought: What if something happens ---- again? Can I go to the hospital near my home to further recover, she and her family considered, or should I stay near these expert doctors, in case …….? For a moment, the raging waters she had recently faced were all calm around her, but she feared moving, afraid of where the current might take her again.

I tried to offer calming words and confidence in either of the two locations she was considering, near the ICU room she was in, or near her home. Finally I held out a Divine Mercy prayer card, with the picture of Jesus on the front, and showed it to my friend. She read the words at the bottom of the picture: Jesus, I trust in You. I told her I prayed that prayer this morning, and every day. Did she agree with that prayer, I asked? She nodded. Then just make a decision to move on, I said, whichever hospital you choose will work out well, if you trust in Him. But still, in fear, she couldn’t make the decision.

While she napped, exhausted by her body’s weakness and drugs --- and worry, word came that a room was now available at the hospital near her home. The family called and told me they were taking it; I concurred, but I was one in the hospital room, alone, to tell her. When she woke I told her where she would be transported to very shortly. “Why?” she wrote on the notepad in front of her. I think she was expecting me to say that I chose that hospital for her --- I had threatened to do just that if she continued indecisive. Instead, I picked up the prayer card, and pointing to the words: Jesus, I Trust in You, said: “He decided. You were physically ready to move on and He made a bed available in your hometown hospital. I didn’t have to choose for you; He did.” And her fears about the decision vanished, and she wrote no more words about it. The 2-hour ambulance ride was uneventful.

I wrote about the progress she has made in this first day at the hospital, her new temporary home. And despite her fears, she smiled many times today. But it was at the end of my time with her when I pointed out the window of her room and told her what a beautiful view was there that she nodded. And then she wrote on her notepad for me to read: “Yes, I’m glad I decided to come here.” All her fears of coming here were forgotten.

God helps us move on, past all our fears and our pains, even if we are not aware He is the one doing so.

Do Not Be Anxious.

Transcribed this 25th day of January 2012, the feast day commemorating the Conversion of St. Paul. It’s a fitting day to consider these thoughts of my friend and the feast day’s reminder that even when all seems beyond hope, God can do anything. Imagine what the people said after Paul’s conversion: How and WHY can this be? They could never know or understand the great plans God had.

My friend’s recovery thus far seems almost like a miracle; certainly I never expected her to survive as she has. If I were to hear she died at this moment, the reason for all her pains and sufferings, like Paul’s conversion, I know will perplex me, but I also know they will have served some great purpose which I never will be able to understand --- in this life. But my understanding matters not.

Jesus, I trust in You.


  1. Dear Do Not Be Anxious. I am going through a painful recovery myself. When I think back of the journey I had gone through, I know and believe that it was and has always been His hands and the Mother's hands, guiding me one day at a time. With my own strength I know pretty sure that I wouldn't be where I am sitting right now and this message will never be written. So yes, although this journey of mine is still long and painful (at times), I will continue to trust Jesus and Mother Mary in seeing me through it, one day at a time. And, I pray that we all will too.

    God bless us all. Send my regards to your friend. Tell her someone from Malaysia is praying for her recovery too. Love.

  2. Although I seem to rarely mention her in my ramblings here, rest assured, Melissa, that our mother Mary is often on my mind and in my prayers. I believe it is she who rescued me, interceded with her Son for me, when I was at the bottom of my well, when I felt things could not get worse. Then my recovery began, back in 1987. It has been a continuing one since then, always getting better. I am happy for you, that you have found His strength also. Sometimes life seems a lonely journey, until we realize that He is always there.

    My friend will be pleased to know of your prayers. She still encounters, in her difficult journey, many days of pain and doubt. But I know she wants to trust, even if for a time she is anxious.

    Peace be to you, and those you love.