Saturday, March 24, 2012


I don’t know how to describe how I’ve been feeling of late. I’ve prayed the Divine Mercy prayers for my friend each day for many weeks now. I’ve fasted and tried to make this a good Lent. Spring has arrived waaaaaaaayyyyyy early in my neck of the woods. In summary, I’ve experienced pains and sorrows and joys of late, but none of them to a degree of fullness. And the only word which comes to mind to describe my feelings and emotions in total is: disappointment.

The Scripture and Office Readings these days talk of us as being on a Lenten Journey; for some of us it is a long journey. In many ways, our time now is meant to dwell on our Lord’s journey, and His passion and death. His was a journey for which He had a map; He knew where He was going, what He would feel along the way, and what was the purpose for it all: the reason He willed it to go on to its end. I feel as if I am paralleling His journey this Lent, but I am not at all sure of where I am going, I have mixed feelings along the way, and I can’t see why things are happening as they are. But I guess I do relate firmly to one thing which Jesus did along the way: He prayed for His Father’s mercy and strength. And so do I.

I continue to visit my friend’s mom in the hospital. While she lays dying, she is mentally alert and chooses not to turn off the ventilator which enables her to breathe. She is afraid. That is her right, and maybe it IS right, but suffering abounds. Her daughter, in trying to find a hospice for her mother’s compassionate care, finds that hospices are turning her away: “We will only take her into our facility if she turns off the vent” --- which means instant death. They will allow feeding tubes, “we won’t starve a dying person,” but they will suffocate her. Catholic teaching, as far as I can discern, says that if the mother chooses to stay on the vent it would be euthanasia to turn it off against her will ---- yet many hospital employees are trying to convince the daughter to do just that “to alleviate her suffering.” A Catholic hospice, in denying admission to her mother told the daughter that “it’s your fault that she is suffering, since you should have never allowed her to be on the vent in the first place.” This “compassionate Catholic hospice” believed the daughter should have told the number one rated hospital in the country that they were wrong in recommending her mother be put on a ventilator “temporarily.” The hospice apparently believes that the daughter should have instead said: “No, just kill my mother.” And my friend is in despair and riddled with guilt, but she will not euthanize her mother, nor spend time trying to convince her mother to do so.

And all this just disappoints me. My friend asks where is God in all this pain and suffering; I have no answer.

Balancing out this deep sadness, this week a new neighbor moved in next door to me. The house which had gone through foreclosure was bought by someone who fixed it up in two months, and then re-sold it in another two months. The new family is a young couple with two small children; they are building a playscape in the yard. And they have no bulldogs, as the last neighbor did. I look forward to their company, and the joyful sounds of their children --- and a lawn which is tended to.

At mass on Friday across from me in the chapel, sat a mother and her daughter, who is now about one year old. Since the week of her birth, the young girl, Grace, has been brought to mass daily and has rarely made a sound. Instead Grace could usually be seen staring at the priest and his actions. She seemed to know something important was going on there on the altar and acted almost reverently, like she knew more about what was happening than I did. On Friday Grace stood next to her mother as the priest walked near them to accept the gifts to be offered on the altar. As the wine and water were given to him, Grace sensed his presence, turned, and took a few wobbly steps, and then hugged his leg. Grace’s mother quickly grabbed her, and as the priest returned to the alter he commented softly to himself: “And Grace comes to us all.”

And I guess I felt, then, a level of contentment, not a great joy or happiness or a feeling of a need to laugh, but just contentment. It seemed right, and I felt right about it. Maybe it was a grace coming to me. It wasn’t much above the level of disappointment I had felt earlier, but it was a move in the right emotional direction, from a negative feeling to a positive one. Perhaps that is what grace does for each of us, if we look for it and accept it.

In politics in our country it seems that people can only comment on the EXTREME right or left; anyone who disagrees with them is extreme the other way. But I don’t believe that’s true. Emotionally, I think most of us usually vary from a level of disappointment to contentment in our lives, and it is only on rare occasions when life turns in some radical direction of pain or joy. Those extremes are few and far between, although whenever they happen, our reactions also become extreme, to avoid the pains and to seek to extend the joy --- even to eternity. But all of life is not a pain, although like Jesus’ Passion, there may be long treks along that path, nor is all of life a joy --- no matter how much we may hope and pray it to be so.

And so, I think, when those extremes come to an end we will find ourselves not in some other extreme, but rather only in a level of disappointment or contentment. And life goes on. And we should also

The flowers are blooming on the trees outside my front door, and along the fence in my back yard. Spring is here, and I can’t help but feel a joy at the beauty, and the birds I hear singing in the early pre-dawn hours. All of creation seems to be calling out for the summer of warmth and light. And all seems at peace. But there will come storms. Some flowers may be buried under hail stones at some point. And considering the earliness of this Spring weather, perhaps there may yet be a killing freeze in the temperature, wiping out all the beautiful flowers and perhaps stilting the trees’ growth. Even in the best of times, in life, disaster and death are near.

When the great storms arrive in our lives, especially as the time of our death approaches and we cannot expect to see another Spring, it is easy to despair. For the dying, they must remember that there will be joy again and, even more amazingly, it will be eternal. They must hope in this, and trust in His promise. For those of us who remain as our loved ones depart, we must recognize that this is just another storm, albeit a killing one, but that there will be more Springs for us. We must take comfort in His words, Do Not Be Anxious.

And for the rest of us, neighbors and friends of those undergoing storms in their lives, we must remember to love our neighbor. Now is not the time to chastise them, even if they have made mistakes in the past. Now is not the time to walk away from them, out of our own fears of pain and suffering. Now is the time to love them.

For a child caring for a dying parent, it is important for them to remember the commandment: Honor thy father and mother, that you might have eternal life. But it will not be obtained easily. And in seeking consolations from others, there will be those who are cruel and those who are stupid. Even as a child bears his own sorrows, he must put up with these also. And it is not easy.

I continue to pray for my friend and her mother, and visit both. But all I feel at this moment is a level of sadness and disappointment. I’ll continue to sit out on my front porch on occasion, and look at the flowers and greening of Spring, and try to see God in all this, for I know He is there. And perhaps my disappointment will fade, and I might find contentment.

Until better days arrive, I wish you joy and peace and love ---- and contentment.


  1. Dear Sister...since I don't know your name, I see you are going through a valley, but you know the LORD is going through it with you! He will never leave us nor forsake us. That is Truth!
    I'm praying for your friend and her mother. I went through something very similar in 2010 with my mother. I was her only child, and I had to make decisions. She ended up with a ventilator also, and she had left the NO VENT request. But like your friend, I was told that the vent might be what she needed to pull through. As it turned out I had to FIGHT the doctors one night in the ICU to get that Vent out, because I knew my mom was gone, and they wanted to keep her on it. Your friend's mother is in a different place because she is fully aware, and I would not remove the vent either!!! If she can think and is aware of what she is going through, it would be cruel to just tell her she was going to die because they don't want it in any longer. All these things are between the family, patient and the medical staff and insurance company. It is also KNOWN by the LORD Himself, and she is ultimately in His Hands! I AM PRAYING for this situation, and for a miracle with your friend's mother. Just realize that this is a struggle that was not intended, so and it really isn't anyones fault. When we try to help extend a life it is an act of mercy, not a bad choice. Don't let that negative thought take hold in your mind. Just continue to Trust Jesus with her life, and with these difficult matters we have to face!

    My best advice is to say JESUS LOVES ME AND MY LOVED ONES< and put a smile on your face and it will move to your heart!!! ♥♥♥

  2. Tom-thank you for sharing all of your thoughts here. It helps, doesn't it, to be able to just put everything that moves throughout your heart and soul into the written word? I can relate to that need and have often been a victim of disappointment as well.

    I am praying for you and hope that Easter will bring more than just contentment but a true joy to your soul!

  3. Well Cathy, my name is no secret --- and I don't mind being called a sister, in fact it feels as a privilege to be thought that way. I'm sorry you had to go through this fight with you mom also. It is most difficult. It is so hard to find peace these days, although as Anne commented, just writing my thoughts down does help give me a certain level of peace. It's confirming my thoughts, as shared with God. I know He hears and understands, as does His mother.

    I think I'll go out shopping today (tomorrow is another day to go visit my friend in the hospital). Maybe I'll get some Easter cards for friends, and some candy to fill a basket for the children of my friends. And maybe I'll even get a small basket of candy and stuffed animals for my new neighbors. For at least today, I'll look at the sunshine and flowers and smile --- even if I have to fake it a bit.

    Thank you, my friends, for your thoughts and comments, and prayers. I trust you know that all life is not hard --- and despite the title of my blog, I DO write of good times also! :-)

  4. Tom, I can understand your feeling of disappointment. You're going through a very difficult time, and I believe you are carrying part of the grief that your friend's family are bearing. Your connection to their problems helps them, I'm sure.

    I pray that your neighbors and the young family will lift your mood. They are a gift to you right now so you can experience with them the joy and laughter that children bring to us. Perhaps the disappointment will be alleviated by the exuberence of youth. Springtime, too brings a sense of hope, and hope doesn't disappoint.

    You may never know what God is accomplishing through your burden for your friend and her family. God bless you, dear friend. Clinton and I have both benefitted from your generous prayers, love and concern. You have been called to be a Burden Bearer, and you do it very well.

  5. Ah, Maryellen, you bring me much joy. Surely when you refer to "the exuberence of youth" you are referring to me. Thank you. :-)

    A Burden Bearer? Hmmmmmm. I shall try to remember myself as a BB, a small thing, but which in some ways can bring joy ------ and unfortunately, in others can bring pain. I shall try to be the joy part.