Tuesday, February 05, 2008
On Mothering, and Visions and Healing
I got in about an hour ago (as I begin this, it is 9:30 PM, Tuesday), spoke with my beloved, loved on the puppies, unpacked, checked in on my email, poured myself a glass of wine and started to write this blog.
I'll get right to the good news: My mother's condition has stabilized. She is still very, very ill, but out of ICU and in a step-down, telemetry unit. The new antibiotic seems to have gotten the pneumonia under control, as she is no longer running at temp (had been as high as 104) nor is she in septic shock (had been as low as 94).
Her pulse oxymeter was reading at 94% at noon today. Her kidneys are now functioning within normal limits (her BUN/Creatinin level down from 12 to 7). Her diabetes is back under control (down from 350 last night to 180 at noon today). She is on continuous oxygen and very, very weak, but for now, she is out of the woods.
Her appetite remains good, and she regaled my daughter and I with story after story after story during our 4 hour visit.
Here's one she told that surprised even me: She reports that at about 8 PM last night, she could feel herself beset by a chill that began, she said, somewhere "deep in my core". She began to shiver with such force that it shook her body violently against the bed.
She remembers the nurses coming around and wrapping her in a thermal blanket ("It looked like something from a science fiction movie.") while others were shouting out medical orders.
She remembers that someone - she thinks it was the priest who had come to give her "last rights" (she refuses to call it 'unction', even though the Roman Catholic Church in which she practices her faith has called it that since Vatican II) - whispered in her ear - "Hang on, Lydia, hang on. Your daughter Elizabeth and grand daughter Julie will be here in the morning. Just hang on."
Shortly after that, she says, she saw a very bright light, and emerging from it, a vision of St. Therese of Lisieux, 'the Little Flower of Jesus', her very favorite-most saint in all of Western Christendom, who came to her and said "It's okay, Lydia. Everything is going to be okay. I will take care of you."
At that moment, she says, the chill subsided, she stopped shivering and was overcome by as sense of deep peace. And then, she says, she fell deeply asleep.
When she awoke at around 4:30 the next morning (today), she said she was filled with a sense of hope and knew she was going to be alright. When Julie and I arrived a wee bit before 10 this morning (having left NYC at 6 AM to escape 'Super Tuesday' and the Victory Parade for the NY Giants), she was sitting up in her bed, in a private room on the Step-Down unit (out of ICU), and was obviously delighted to see us.
The only time she stopped talking was when her lunch came and she took a bite of her egg salad sandwich, ate her lime fruit jello ring, or sipped her tea.
My mother is 84 years old (she'll be 85 in July, God willing). To my recollection, she has never reported ever having either a spiritual 'vision' or an 'audition'. While I do not discount the veracity of either of her experiences, I think her report of them is an indication of just how gravely ill she really was.
I have other miracles and healing to report. I must pray on them and consider them deep in my heart before I write of them. I only know that there was, in the hearts of three generations of women in that room on the telemetry ward, some powerful, I would dare say 'miraculous' healing.
For now, I simply want to thank you all for your prayers for my mother. And, I want to thank St. Therese Lisieux, the 'Little Flower of Jesus' for showing up and bringing my mother a sense of hope.
As I left, Mother gave me these meditations from the Society of St. Therese, of which she has been a member for as long as I can remember. She was most insistent that I take them home to read tonight.
I share them with you in what the nuns of my youth would refer to as a 'spiritual bouquet.' (My mother reminded me of this. A lovely term, no? I think we ought to reclaim it as our own.)
From the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux: "How few there are who accept failure and weakness, who are content to see themselves on the ground and to be found there by others."
2 Sm 18:9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30–19:3
Absalom unexpectedly came up against David’s servants.
He was mounted on a mule,
and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth,
his hair caught fast in the tree.
He hung between heaven and earth
while the mule he had been riding ran off.
Someone saw this and reported to Joab
that he had seen Absalom hanging from a terebinth.
And taking three pikes in hand,
he thrust for the heart of Absalom,
still hanging from the tree alive.
Now David was sitting between the two gates,
and a lookout went up to the roof of the gate above the city wall,
where he looked about and saw a man running all alone.
The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said,
“If he is alone, he has good news to report.”
The king said, “Step aside and remain in attendance here.”
So he stepped aside and remained there.
When the Cushite messenger came in, he said,
“Let my lord the king receive the good news
that this day the LORD has taken your part,
freeing you from the grasp of all who rebelled against you.”
But the king asked the Cushite, “Is young Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king
and all who rebel against you with evil intent
be as that young man!”
The king was shaken,
and went up to the room over the city gate to weep.
He said as he wept,
“My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you,
Absalom, my son, my son!”
Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom;
and that day’s victory was turned into mourning for the whole army
when they heard that the king was grieving for his son.
86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (1a) Listen, Lord, and answer me.
Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.
R. Listen, Lord, and answer me.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
R. Listen, Lord, and answer me.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Listen, Lord, and answer me.
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to him,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
"Mighty and Mysterious God, You have a wonderful and strange way of mixing defeat and victory, joys and sorrows. We celebrate David's triumph yet weep with him over the death of his beloved son Absalom. We have wept over relatives whose loss empties our heart. Sometimes we want and even demand miracles, like the healing of Jairus' daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. Touch our lingering pains and immediate hurts. Teach us to trust you, especially in times of painful darkness. You are the God of life and You make what seems like losses, death and disease into victories, life and wholeness."
Somebody in the church give me an Amen.