The Feast of All Souls — a sense of “Going Home”

Do you believe that life ends here …

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or perhaps, somewhere else?

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Today’s Feast of All Souls gives me pause; I wonder …

  • My mom and dad are gone, but are they? Where are they?
  • Where will I be going? Where do I want to do?
  • Do I believe there is something beyond this life?

For some reason I have always had a strong belief in the afterlife; it’s what got me through the deaths of my parents. I remember looking at my mother’s casket covered in beautiful purple and white flowers and feeling a strong sense that she was safe and free from pain. It was because she was well loved whether she knew it or not. Her beautiful memorial service showed that love to the capacity crowd that was present.

I believe that love never dies.

Whether our loved ones live on in our memories or actually “live” someplace, perhaps today is a good day to think about such things. Let go of fear and allow the imagination to fly higher and deeper, to that place where we truly live forever with our Creator.

We are loved. And love never dies.

This video of one my favorite pieces from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” performed by Libera can perhaps lead you to such a place. The video provides the beautiful lyrics to this hymn.

May your reflection fill you with hope of things to come.

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Healing begins with knowledge: understanding the emotional impact of IC

JUNE 29, 2016 – Last week I wrote about dejection; today it’s anxiety. This current season of feelings, beginning with extreme aggravation, moving towards dejection and now morphing into anxiety has me quite puzzled. After this past weekend I needed to step back and try to understand just what was going on,

Last week I anticipated a wonderful weekend away with my husband at Hampton Beach, NH. I looked forward to the carnival atmosphere, the gorgeous pristine beaches along Route 1A, the shops and restaurants, and finally, the Happy Together Tour featuring singers and bands of the 1960s (The Turtles, The Cowsills, Mark Lindsay, Billy J. Kramer, Chuck Negron and Gary Puckett).

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Happy-Together-Cover

The weather was perfection – upper 70s with a refreshing onshore wind. My husband and I have needed this time together after the last hectic few months.

And yet during the trip I was overcome with anxiety. Why?

I have continued to ask God for healing as I pray for friends and family as I sensed I needed those prayers. Just as the book lifted me up and out of myself, prayers for healing uncovered information that related directly to my anxiety. It came from a most unexpected source.

I am researching a biography at the moment and have several years’ worth of notes. They need organizing so today I attended to that.  In the course of the task, I came across an article called “The Psychological Effects of IC.”

ICJust what is IC? Short for Interstital Cystitis, IC is a painful and chronic urinary condition. When paired with Overactive Bladder (which I also have) sufferers experience sudden urges to urinate. If you are not near a bathroom, it can be an excruciating experience both physically and emotionally. It can be quite embarrassing as well. Over time you are conditioned to place the needs of your bladder above all else. I go nowhere now without immediately scouting out bathrooms.

It took years to have this condition diagnosed. Heck, it took years to get a doctor to take my complaints seriously! I took meditation for the Overactive Bladder but it did nothing for the IC. Over time I learned what foods to avoid. The discovery of AZO products (especially Bladder Control Go Less) finally began to bring my IC under control, at least during the daytime. Nighttime is another story (and for another day).

What I have discovered about IC is that it is triggered by stress and anxiety. Going away from home is a sure-fire way to trigger it. If you are not sure where the next bathroom is, you are going to obsess over finding one. Such stress triggers flare ups and before you know it, you’re in a vicious cycle.

What I did not know, however, was that there are long term emotional consequences, something I had begun to suspect after coming home from our weekend. The article I stumbled upon today confirmed that suspicion:

“Although IC is a physiological disease, the effects are emotional. The pain of IC automatically induces an emotional response … The messages from the bladder pain can make a patient feel upset, emotional and depressed as a result.”

In my case, it’s panic. And that’s what I kept experiencing in the lovely yet unfamiliar setting of Hampton Beach, NH. That, and hyper-vigilance:

“IC patients may be seen as emotionally laden victims of a traumatic experience demonstrating hyper-vigilant behavior (the need to be on guard against harm), instead of a person in need of medication to calm the unsettling symptoms of interstitial cystitis.”

This may sound a bit dramatic but the fact it that it is true. This article described my experience to perfection. There was more:

“IC is a daily responsibility … it is not a situational stress that will resolve in time. And, even though most of us build a certain amount of tolerance to the everyday bladder sensitivity (not the painful flare-ups), we still have to place our bladder needs first.”

The world with IC can become very small. And, problems can seem too big to overcome. Sometimes the limitations can make us feel stuck, sometimes with no hope for the future.”

anxietyMy world has definitely shrunk as demonstrated by the tremendous anxiety I experience whenever I have to go away. I am a confirmed homebody—no trip to Europe for me. I chaperone confirmation retreats twice yearly and each weekend is a constant struggle with anxiety-induced obsessive and compulsive tendencies that interfere with my work on the retreat. Finally I have a better understanding of WHY.

I reflected a bit before sharing this blog post. IC and Overactive Bladder are hardly things spoken about freely in polite company. I don’t even know anyone who has it though I know it’s common. So why share this with you?

  • First of all, because someone out there might also be a sufferer and perhaps, this information can be helpful to them.
  • Secondly, to show that healing that comes through God’s grace is more often revealed in steps rather than granted miraculously. But just because a healing unfolds rather than effects an instant cure doesn’t make it any less miraculous in my mind.

I am convinced that because I approached God in prayer for healing (even though I didn’t specify what the healing ought to be) that he gave me the mindfulness to pay attention to this article when I found it.

We’re told that knowledge is half the battle. I believe that. This knowledge has given me great relief.

  • I’m not going crazy.
  • There is a reasonable explanation.
  • Now I know what to ask for in prayer for my healing.

This wave of anxiety will, in fact, pass. And when I feel it return, I know where to go and Who to ask when I need help.

p.s. Those of you suffering from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – there is something for you in “The Psychological Effects of IC.” Something tells me we have walked down a similar path.

 

 

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Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way

Did you know that blessings multiply? If you are familiar with the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes then you know that when Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fishes, they multiplied enough to feed five thousand people.

Beginning with St. Blaise

from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28
from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28

This is how I would characterize my miracle healing. It began with a visit to church on the feast of St. Blaise where I received a blessing on my throat (see previous post for more on St, Blaise).

I entered the line out of habit. The wait was long because the priest chose to do the blessings himself. Fr. Stephen LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester takes his liturgical responsibilities seriously, loving every ritual with fidelity and reverence. Each throat blessed received his utmost attention.

Desire for healing?

As I waited, I wondered why I was there. Did I believe in healing? Did I even want a healing? You may ask why someone might not desire a healing but when you get accustomed to being a certain way, change is hard to imagine. I was used to my voice being gone. I had accepted it.

Still, I remained in line, deciding it couldn’t hurt. I left the door open for possibilities, for anything God wished to give me.

Unfolding of a blessing

After receiving the blessing, I left the church in tears. What could possibly come of this? A few days later, the blessing began to unfold.

It began with an emotional healing.

Loss not private

When I initially lost my voice, I thought I could mourn in private. I could resign from music ministry at my parish and that would be the end of it. I was wrong. My singing was not a private, individual affair. I had shared it with a community and my loss impacted people. There were the other musicians who had to pick up the slack when I resigned. And there were the people who had enjoyed my singing. I should have been grateful for the many kind inquiries and offers of concern but instead I found it to be an intrusion. I didn’t want to accept my loss and thus I pushed music away from me. The inquiries and offers of concern pushed it right back at me. I couldn’t get away from my pain.

Thomas and his loss

It made me think of Thomas. Poor doubting Thomas. He was the one disciple who was not there when Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection. Filled with joy to overflowing, they told Thomas they had seen the Lord and he would not believe. Hidden in a locked room out of fear, Thomas hid from his pain as well. It hurt too much to face it; thus he pushed away any semblance of hope that Jesus had risen. Just as I had pushed away any connection, any reminder of my music: it hurt too much. Healing through the wounds Thomas demanded to touch Jesus’ wounds. It was the only way he would believe.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

A beautiful homily given by a newly ordained priest celebrating his first mass described what Jesus did for Thomas in response to his demands:

“‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Bring your hand and put it into my side. Hide yourself in me. Hide yourself from all that troubles you, from all you doubt, from all you fear. Hide yourself in a love more penetrating than a brush fire, more overwhelming than a deluge. Hide yourself in a love that will remake you entirely. Do not be afraid.’ Jesus invites Thomas to literally enter into his wounds of love, to pass so deeply into the reality of love incarnate as to move within it. To physically put himself into our Lord’s resurrected body, unconquered by everything that would seek to destroy love, to put to death all that smothered God’s life within him. To touch resurrection, to touch eternity. To hide himself in Christ’s love forever. But not to hide Christ’s love from the world. Not to remain behind locked doors. Not to continue in sadness and fear. Jesus fills Thomas with a love so transforming that he can proclaim without fear, without doubt, ‘My Lord and My God.’” Rev. Patrick E. Reidy, C.S.C., Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame, April 27, 2014

Transformation through healing

Jesus transformed Thomas; he changed him from a man filled with fear, sadness and bitterness to a man who proclaimed his love for Jesus boldly throughout the world. He healed Thomas and Thomas embraced him. He healed me in the same way. Once at war with myself over the loss of my voice, I learned again to love music, to re-embrace my gift and to learn to use it in a new way.

Openness to God’s way

In the next post I will tell you how Jesus healed me. Like the loaves and fishes, it was a blessing that multiplied over and over. Remember when Jesus told the disciples to lower the net for another catch even though they had worked hard all night and caught nothing? The net was filled to overflowing.

That’s what happens when you leave the door open, just a bit, and let God have his way.

Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.
Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.

I highly recommend listening to the entire homily given by Fr. Reidy. You can download the video from iTunes; about 27 minutes in, you can hear his homily.

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