The Sigh of the Weary

Well, it’s been quite a month. Here’s another weird post….all my issues,with just a tiny bit of Father Michael. Late one night in July my brother called to tell me that he was taking my mother to the hospital ER.  I knew that likely we wouldn’t know my mother’s status for a while. I tried to sleep that night , but my head was spinning and I couldn’t stop thinking and worrying. So I lay awake and then I felt I ‘heard’ Father Michael’s voice telling me to relax and pray . And he said “I want you to just keep praying ‘Into Your hands I commend my Spirit’. I questioned this as I associated those words with the sad moment of Christ’s death. “Oh no,” Father M said,” they are words of trust and hope! Keep saying them!”  I did fall asleep then and when I woke in the morning those words were the first I thought. And they kept coming back to me and calming me, all through the craziness in these last six or so weeks: ultrasounds, CTs, angiograms, arteriograms, stents, amputations, debridements, EKGs, echoes, more amputations and debridements, mild heart attack, paralyzed vocal cords, mental confusion and perhaps a ‘little cancer’ i.e., a spot on the lung, etc, etc. But my little prayer has kept me going, despite it all. Thanks so much Father Michael,my helpful friend!  Thanks too, to my sister and brother, who have shared in the medical excitement. And our hospital saga with my mother continues…

And the craziness spilled over ! My niece with the MS  fell down the stairs, necessitating stitches in her chin, three inside, three outside! My husband’s car was stolen , involved in a hit and run, and totaled.

On the bright side, we now have a ‘new’ used car. And, I may have experienced a healing-I’ve had very painful Achilles’ injury for several months, but in these last few days, it seems to be gone!! Being cautiously hopeful on that.  And then last weekend, my youngest son got engaged to a lovely young woman! God is so good!

You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s not the mountain ahead that wears you out -it’s the grain of sand in your shoe”. I’ve always known that I was more of the ‘grain of sand in your shoe’ ilk. The little things! They bug me! It’s been a sandy journey lately. But of course, I try to keep aware of others’ great  pain. So much unbelievable suffering is happening all over the world. People are dying and cultures are being systematically  destroyed . Their suffering puts my complaint in perspective and dwarfs it. Besides, I know I need to stop complaining if I ever expect to become a saint (per St Catherine of Siena, according to my pastor).

American composer Stephen Foster expresses our sense of compassion for our brothers everywhere in this song. It is almost a prayer. I place it here to remember the suffering:

And the Prayer Goes On

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 Father Michael was always more than happy to pray. In fact, in one of the first emails I wrote to him, I asked for prayers for my niece. Emily had been newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis -just three weeks after her wedding. Always kind and reassuring, Father Michael wrote this back to me:

“I promise to say Mass for your niece. Again, I can’t imagine what it is like to be so happy at one’s wedding and to have this diagnosis so soon afterwards. Did you see the lady with the cane giving out Communion yesterday? She found out she had MS just a few weeks before her wedding. And that was 40 years ago. She is very happily married to a great and kind man.”

Father Michael continued to pray for Emily and often inquired about her MS treatments and general health. Once I visited him in the sacristy and we just chatted and joked casually. Father M then got very serious and said he wanted to ask a favor of me. I listened attentively. He told me again about Mrs. M (the lady in the quote above) and explained that he had asked her, a while back, to pray for my niece. “No names were mentioned” he said. I gratefully expressed my thanks for the prayer.  Father Michael , smiling sweetly, said ” So I would really love it , if you would start to pray for Mrs M. She’s recently had some labs done and the numbers were not good. She needs the prayer. And I thought it would be nice that you, being members of separate families handling the same illness,  would pray for each other.”  Well, what could I say? “Of course I will Father M. I ‘d be happy to do that”.  Father Michael was so pleased.

So after that , when I’d visit, I’d often ask Father Michael how Mrs. M was doing. And he would be cautiously optimistic for the most part. He  would always thank me for my prayer. Eventually, Mrs. M improved quite a bit and Father Michael was very encouraged and pleased. I then said to him a bit tentatively “You know, I’m still praying for her every day.” Father Michael said “Oh yes, I know you are! Thank you!” He said this to me with the biggest grin. I looked at him, thought about it and said ” I guess I will be praying for Mrs. M …..always”. Father Michael said nothing in response,but gave me that huge grin again. I should have known I wouldn’t get off the hook! I’m thinking Mrs M. is still praying for Emily, too.

Father Michael is taking care of all kinds of heavenly business in his new life. He wouldn’t be idle. Here on earth,still, Father’s thoughtfulness, kindness  and grace live on in the prayers he requested of two families.